Baz Waiswa

Baz Waiswa

Victoria University Council Moves To Realize Much Needed Growth

Victoria University, as a leading private university, continues to grow and insists on tapping into the existing resources that can help its growth as a learning institution and trainer of young people.

This ambition to have a prospering university is made possible by an innovative management that has been able to lure young and enterprising young minds to join the university as a guarantee that the university is here to empower young people.

The recent development from the university is that seasoned journalist Andrew Mwenda and businessman Dr Chirag Kotecha joined as members of University Council of Victoria University.

The two joined others like Dr. David Byatike Matove, Chairman University Council; Joseph N. Biribonwa, Vice Chairman University Council; James Kelebo, Council Member; Justice Maintum, Council Member; Joram Francis Kahenano, another Council Member.

The University said the Council strives to achieve the educational objectives of the University and those matters that affect the common interests of faculty, staff and students.

It is authorized to initiate policy proposals as well as to express its judgment on those submitted to it by the administrative officers of the University and its various academic divisions.

With the guidance of the Council, Victoria University is building capacity of not only the teaching staff but also that of students graduating from the institution. Initiatives such as Total Graduate Program which was recently conducted are taking the university in the right direction.

The workshop training themed ‘towards a complete graduate training - after university, what next?, was aimed at teaching the University’s student who will be graduating in September the basics of formal employment and doing business.

The training which took place on Monday 15th and 16th Tuesday, July 2019, addressed issues to do with the social life of the students, the business world, religion, personal and community security and work-life balance.

Topics discussed at the workshop included career planning, job searching and retention, writing CV and undertaking job interviews, public speaking, business startup and registration, business etiquette, financial literacy, investment portfolio and social media for business.

The University is also looking at collaborating with institutions like Uganda National Council for Science and Technology to undertake powerful and purposeful research.

Victoria University under the stewardship of Vice Chancellor Assoc. Prof. Dr. Krishna N. Sharma has prioritized research as a cornerstone for their teaching and education delivery. This has been much more evident in the faculty of health sciences and ICT.

The faculty of health sciences published more research papers and journals than any other faculty at high rising Victoria University in Uganda. The Vice Chancellor of Victoria University Dr. Krishna N. Sharma said in the academic year 2018, 35 publications were released from the University.

Also, Victoria University recently offered free financial literacy training to the public. The two day training helped attendees to ‘possess the set of skills and knowledge that allows you to make informed and effective decisions with all of you financial resources.’

Participants got skills on informed and effective decisions on financial resources and also learnt the main steps to achieve financial literacy. The also learnt the skills to create a budget, ability to track spending, book keeping, techniques to pay off debts and effective financial planning.

I Want To Make Victoria University A Good Place For Learning – Guild President

The desire to improve the lives of students at Victoria University inspired Mark Serebe, the new crowned Guild President, to take up a leadership role at the Ruparelia Group owned university.

In this Interview, Serebe narrates his life’s story, ambitions and all that he plans to do for the University.

Tell us about your background, your childhood, time through schools and what you want people to know about you as the reigning Guild President of Victoria University.

I can say that my parents have done a great job in as far as educating me is concerned as I have gone to some of the best institutions in the country like Kings College Budo where I did my O' level and from Buddo Secondary School where I did my A' level.

Two things that I say about myself is that am an easy guy and I can easily get along with anyone and I respect everyone irrespective of where they come from so I believe that I will be the same for the students of Victoria University

What attracted and inspired you to join students’ leadership here at Victoria University and in schools that you have attended?

From my personal experience at Victoria University, there were issues to do with communication between university management and the guild especially when it came to the area of internship and defending of research and dissertation especially for those that are at the final stages of their degree programme.

So I decided to stand to resolve these issues and make university life easy for the ones that plan to join us.

How do you intend to balance being a student and a Guild President of a vibrant and growing university?

I set my priorities straight and I am making sure that my activities for the week are fully planned to ensure that am not caught off guard and that at the end of the day I am able to work both effectively and fulfil my commitments as Guild President.

How do you plan to deploy the skills and knowledge you have acquired from this University to grow the institution and to the public benefit?

With the knowledge that I have acquired while studying my course (Human Resource Management), I plan to use it to create harmony with the team and promote real human relations.

This will enable us to go forward as a university. I will use my knowledge to explain to guild members their roles so that they can be effective in the execution of those roles.

What are some of your plans for the University as Guild President? What do you want your tenure to accomplish by the end of the mandate?

I plan to ensure that the academic affairs of students are greatly improved by making sure students get their results on time and that they receive information from their deans as quickly as possible.

I have greatly emphasized the lack of information flow at the University, therefore, students couldn't take action; so my method to solve this is to often organize meetings to address student issues.

These are some of the few things I plan to accomplish during my tenure along with ensuring the school cafeteria provides food to students that is affordable. Right now it is not yet available.

You mentioned in an earlier interview that you want to bridge the gap between the students and University management – please describe the current state of affairs and the solution you intend to offer.

Currently, students get to know important information about the guild and the university through WhatsApp. This system is not enough as some students are not on WhatsApp and others lose their phones during the semester.

They end up missing out on that information. I plan to combat this by getting student numbers so that alongside WhatsApp, we can send them SMS in case they cannot access the social media platform.

What are some of the pressing challenges that the student leadership and university management need to address?

I must say this right from the start that the university challenges are not too big to be solved but for me, the challenges are communication between the two bodies (University Council) and the guild body to ensure that the students are served and that they acquire the best education in the best way possible.

Do you feel any pressure to perform as a Guild President – from your peers, university management or from yourself?

Yes, I do get that pressure. Sometimes from my peers who expect me to know every single thing about the guild yet sometimes, I also get information late from the university management.

Management must maintain a good public image to ensure that Victoria University is seen as a prestigious university in Uganda.

What do you hate and love about leading your fellow students?

I like leading these students especially when it comes to important university information or calling people to attend conferences outside the university.

The current challenge is when it comes to parties. They don’t turn up as expected which is really disappointing considering the time you take to budget and prepare the venue for the event.

Why did you choose Victoria University Kampala of all universities in Uganda and the world?

At first, I didn’t really see much importance which university I went to but over time, the more I got engaged in student activities and lectures, the more I got to see the true value of understanding the concepts that we were being taught.

In Victoria University, the student numbers are small so lecturers can easily explain better the concepts putting us at the advantage when the time of employment comes into play. So as of now, I don't regret the decision my parents made for me to join Victoria University.

How best can you describe your stay here, at Victoria University, as a student?

I don't exactly have the right words to say because I have had good days when I enjoyed myself like on International Day and very bad days like when under bad circumstances I was almost given a retake yet it wasn't my fault but that of the people that were correcting our exam timetable.

But what I can say is that I hope by the time I pass on the torch of Guild President to the next person, the university will truly be on a different level from other universities.

Would you join Victoria University if you had another opportunity and task to choose which university to join?

I wouldn’t mind joining it again though there is another university that truly interests me; that is the International University of East Africa.

I like it for its diverse cultural identities - with people from DRC, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Kenya and Tanzania all studying in one university.

Did Victoria University meet your expectation once you joined and became a student?

At first, I wasn't satisfied with the university but over time I came to appreciate all that it had to offer. So I can say my current stand is fair with room for improvement.

Would you recommend parents to bring their children to this University?

Yes. I would. I know one of the things that scare them is tuition but the university management has enhanced scholarships that smoothen the burdens that the parents have to bear for their children.

The scholarships enable students to proceed through the semester without any delay or mishaps unlike some of the other universities where students lose between 2 weeks to a month because of strikes from students and teachers.

Mercury Continues To Eat Into Health Of Gold Miners

Gold is possibly the most mined mineral in Uganda. Even with the monetary value attached to it, it remains a rudimentary adventure for artisanal miners with little or no large scale gold mining currently ongoing.

The government carried out an airborne geophysical survey and geological mapping to identify areas with minerals including gold, only Karamoja missed the exercise because of insecurity, but no high profile company has been able to venture into large scale gold mining.

According to Africa Centre for Energy and Mineral Policy (ACEMP), the places most known for gold mining in Uganda albeit rudimentarily are Mubende (Kitumbi, Kayonza gold fields), Namayingo gold fields on the shores of Lake Victoria in Eastern Uganda, the Buhweju gold fields in Western Uganda and Karamoja.

Artisanal And Small Scale Gold Mining (ASGM) in Uganda is highly informal with no high tech exploration but rather discoveries are made by ‘barefoot geologists and sniffer dogs.’

The challenges of the artisanal miners are varied but one that stands out and has proven to be fatal is the continued use of two hazardous chemicals to hasten the process of extracting gold and separating it from the soils. These chemicals are mercury and cyanide. They are also hazardous to the environment.

EFFECTS OF MERCURY/HEALTH RISKS

World Health Organisation (WHO) says that mercury is toxic to the central and peripheral nervous systems. The inhalation of mercury vapour can produce harmful effects on the nervous, digestive and immune systems, lungs and kidneys, and may be fatal. The inorganic salts of mercury are corrosive to the skin, eyes and gastrointestinal tract, and may induce kidney toxicity if ingested.

But even with these health dangers, and according to Mr. Don Bwesigye Binyina, the Executive Director of ACEMP, no specific laws are regulating the use of mercury in Uganda. He says the Mining Policy 2001, the Mining Act 2003 and the Mining Regulations of 2004 are silent on the use of mercury.

LAWS SILENT ON MERCURY USE

He explained that part six of the Mining Act, 2003 addresses the protection of the environment in mining operations but puts that responsibility into the hands of the holder of an exploration licence or mining lease who must carry out an environment impact assessment of his or her proposed operations in accordance with the provisions of the National Environment Act, Cap 153.

“Unfortunately, this requirement is only for holders of exploration licences and mining leases and does not cover holders of location licences who are predominantly small-scale miners applying mercury and cyanide in largely gold ore tailings to enhance their production,” Mr. Binyina stated. 

While most of artisanal gold miners are illegal, unlicensed and not regulated, Mr. Binyina reveals that there is a steady increase in the number of small-scale gold miners holding location licences and applying mercury and cyanide in gold extraction.

To avert this, the Mining and Minerals Policy 2018 proposes the organization and legislation of artisanal and small-scale mining operations and management of occupational health, safety and environment with special attention to mercury use in gold extraction in the ASGM sub-sector.

The policy also establishes a mechanism to monitor and enforce compliance to health, safety and with this policy, government seeks to promote the use of environmentally sound exploration and mining techniques and technology and to regulate the use of toxic and hazardous substances such as mercury and cyanide.

A revised national environment law has been aligned with the new mining policy framework to promote sound management of chemicals and products to protect human health and the environment.

Also, National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) is charged with engaging the Directorate of Geological Surveys and Mines (DGSM) to establish criteria for the classification of hazardous chemicals and products containing hazardous chemicals in accordance with the hazards they present to human health and the environment.

The law also provides for the monitoring water bodies, soils or any other receiving environment for any spill of hazardous chemicals and contamination; and monitoring of the effect of hazardous chemicals and their residue on human health and the environment.

MERCURY SOURCE AND TRADE

A study by ACEP on mercury importation reveals that informal in-country trade flows becoming increasingly evident. "Interviews from mercury trade statistics indicate that South Africa and Kenya are the principal source countries, although Malaysia appears to have dominated official mercury imports over the past two years.

According to the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA), eight consignments totalling 615 kg entered the country between January 2013 and February 2016, mostly from Kenya, as stated in official records. A representative of the URA emphasized that smuggling is likely to be rampant given the apparent lack of logistical and regulatory constraints," ACEMP said.

The leading actors in the mercury value chain are foreign traders from Kenya, Tanzania and DR Cong or sell local trader who takes it mining sites. The local trader according to ACEMP are also gold buyers who supply it to miners. Chinese mining companies and jewellery shops owned by Asian also trade mercury.

Malaba and Busia border posts on Uganda’s eastern border and Mutukula on the Southern border with Tanzania, are the major country's entry points for smuggled mercury. Uganda has also been reported to be a transit country for a mercury trade route feeding into the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

THE CASE OF CYANIDE

Alongside mercury, cyanide was another preferred deadly chemical to extract gold but ACEMP says many operators are abandoning their cyanide plants due to the high operating costs while others do not operate at full capacity.

An interview by ACEMP with an operator of a CIP plant in Kasanda reveals on average one needs around Shs6.7 m daily to sustain a commercial CIP. Average ore grade of 3g/tonne would cost approximately Shs160m to produce 1.5 Kg of gold valued at approximately Shs200m living a meagre profit margin of Shs40 million in month.

However close to mother load ore grades of 5grams - 55 grams per tonne  could cost less than Shs40 m to produce between 1-5 kilograms in a week, but hastens to add that these ore grades are a rare occurrence. This largely explains the struggle by majority of ASMs to sustain such a capital intensive technology

In conclusion, ACEMP believes that reduction in mercury use will be more possible with inclusive cooperation and more business support in ASGM supply chains rather than hard policing and enforcement. Primary barriers to mercury reduction are driven by the cost of business for ASGM groups and buyers.

This means that the cost burden for shifting to hg free ASGM methods cannot be left entirely to these two groups. NAP strategies have to allow for testing, developing and incentivizing alternative options to mercury.

Nahabwe's Book Will Help Startups To Grow - Sudhir

Businessman Dr. Sudhir Ruparelia has hailed Dr. Innocent Nahabwe for writing a book that will help young businesses and people. The successful businessman said he was respectful and amazed when he read the book.

Dr. Ruparelia was speaking Friday at Kingdom Kampala during the launch of Dr. Nahabwe’s book titled ‘Treating Small Businesses: Lessons From My Operations’. He was the Guest of Honour at the book launch.

“This book will give guidance to growth of startups and young people in business,” Dr. Ruparelia said. He described Dr. Nahabwe with whom they ‘have been in a long journey together’ as a consistent man who never fails on his obligations.

Dr. Ruparelia encourage Dr. Nahabwe and young people in business to think beyond their generation when doing business. He also challenged the audience on the importance of honesty and hard work.

“In business, it is important to keep your word and maintain consistency which is very, very important. Innocent has worked very hard and is a good man. In our nine years of working together, he has never defaulted on rent and has always paid on time. So, just like him, do not give up and believe in yourself” Dr. Sudhir said.

In the book, Dr. Nahabwe details his life’s journey, employment, starting out as an entrepreneur and how he has managed to overcome the challenges associated with doing business in an economy like Uganda’s.

He said he was overwhelmed by the response this book has received. “Jumia Uganda, who are selling the book online, recently called me to say that they have never sold as many copies for a Ugandan book in this short period of time! They are quite surprised – and so am I!” said an excited Dr. Nahabwe.

As a businessman, Dr. Nahabwe successfully established a number of business ventures including Club Amnesia, a night club; Kagwirawo Sports Betting; Galaxy FM, a radio station; Blue Cube, an SMSing services company.

He previously worked at Red Pepper newspaper as the advertising manager.

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