Baz Waiswa

Baz Waiswa

How Victoria University Is Driving Oil And Gas Skills Development In Uganda

For Ugandans to be able to work in the nascent oil and gas industry will need requisite skills appropriate to meet the demands of the sector.

But because the oil industry is new in Uganda, few Ugandans have been able to get the required training. Many had to fly out to access learning institutions able to offer such an education.

This is however changing because Victoria University is now offering oil and gas courses. In this interview Dr. Stephen Robert Isabalija the Vice Chancellor of the University gives the details.

Mr Isabalija, briefly tell us about you as an individual?

I’m Dr. Stephen Robert Isabalija the Vice Chancellor of Victoria University. I have been here for the last two years; previously I was in the United States at a University working as a professor.

I was also a senior lecturer at Makerere University. And I did my PhD in United States were id did studying Public Policy and I specialized in International development and sustainable future. I am a full time Ugandan

As the Vice Chancellor, tell us about Victoria University

We are motivated by experiential learning; that is what brought us to the market, our promoters are entrepreneurs and our vision is to change the way how education is done.

Every person in the market has been saying the new graduates don’t have skills; we are here to skill students, we are here to give them new ways of working. We want students to leave the university when they can go out and do different things.

Most of the people are retooling themselves and we thought we would that service by bringing the school nearer to the people.

Going by your experience and CV, what attracted you to work with Victoria University?

It’s the University’s vision; it’s the uniqueness of what Victoria University had to offer. Again am attracted to work with the promoters and entrepreneurs of the University who have a passion for education. To us changing the world and the way things are done in the country is our passion.

 Victoria University talks of state of the art facilities, what exactly are these facilities, elaborate more? 

Our classrooms are top notch with air conditioning, not that we don’t have good air in Uganda but we believe students must be in good environment and that temperature must be controlled.

But also you must be aware that we insist that every student must own a laptop which the school provides freely, that is going to expose our students to new ways of doing research.

The whole campus has internet, also our class rooms have projectors and interactive blackboards. So in a way we are exposing our students how international schools in the western world operate.

To us that is very important. Also our students stay in a clean environment which is not common in other universities.

 The January intake is on till February, why should someone come to study at Victoria University?

Again it is something we talked about, experiential learning. The things we provide, we want them to leave Victoria University when they are equipped with necessary skills ready for the job market.

We also provide them with internship. At Victoria University, internship is a must. Any student who comes to us will leave ready for a job and they always perform well or they can start their own. 

So for us we are providing courses and give the students the opportunity to leave the university not to look for jobs, they get the employed or are able to create jobs for other people.

What unique courses do you have that give you leverage over other private universities?

Of course you know that we have oil and gas courses. We also have courses like Bachelor of Science in Human Nutrition and Dietetics, Bachelor of Midwifery Science, Bachelor of Nursing Science, Bachelor of Science in Public Health, Bachelor in Business Information Systems, International Relations and Diplomatic Studies, Bachelor of Environmental Science among other traditional courses.

Tell us about the Department of Petroleum and Energy Studies at Victoria University

It is one department that was formed out of the need to see what is happening in the economy because oil and gas is a new thing that everybody is talking about.

We thought we can bring this training near the people, we thought we would start the training so that when the first barrel of oil comes out of the ground we have people working in the fields.

What are some of the oil and gas and mining courses that are taught here at Victoria University?

We have Bachelor of Science in Oil & Gas Accounting, Certificate in Oil & Gas Law, Certificate in Oil & Gas Project Management, Certificate in Oil & Gas Health, Safety & Environmental Management, Certificate in Supply Chain and Logistic Management and Certificate in Oil and Gas Management under the department of petroleum and gas studies.

How many students are undertaking these courses and how does one qualify to study oil and gas courses?

We have so far trained 150 students, some we have trained and they have left. We do retooling for some people. We linked these students to employers and are now duly employed in and outside the country.

To qualify for such courses, you must have done senior six and for the bachelors you must have a bias for economics and math. We also take on people who have qualified in other fields because this is a skill they add on their daily routine of working.

What do you intend to achieve by teaching these courses?

We are out to engage the public, we are here partnering with government to provide value. When government indentified these resources then we thought we can do capacity building. So in us teaching these courses we are building capacity and also providing a service.

Uganda's oil and gas industry is nearing take off, how ready and competitive are your students?

They are very competitive, that’s what we have done, making them ready for work in the oil sector. Like I said, those we have trained are now working in the industry. Our students are ready to work once they graduate.

That is why have we have partnered with international organizations like Institute of Public and Private Partnerships (IP3), we are also trying to target other universities to support using delivering this education.

The most marketable jobs in the extractives industry are the engineering related jobs, when are you starting to offer engineering courses since there is a skills gap?

It is something we are looking at and by August next year we will be able to roll out these engineering courses. You will get the details later when we are ready.

Uganda drafted a local content policy which tries to minimize import of goods and services, what kind of relationship do you have with oil companies since they will the ones providing jobs?

We have a very wonderful relationship with oil and gas companies; that’s how we have been able to take our students to oil fields for tours and practical studies. Every student has been to oil fields.

We recently partnered with the College of Natural Science in Makerere. We signed a MoU so we will be implementing some of the training here at Victoria University.

And what have been the challenges in conducting these courses?

It’s a new a field, highly specialized, sometimes it’s very difficult to get the trainers to do the job but we have managed to assemble a good team to ensure we have produce quality students ready to work in this demanding sector. Victoria University has managed to attract the best trainers.

Where do you see Victoria University in 5 to 10 years?

We are fronting ourselves to be the best university in east and central Africa.

CNOOC Joins Cholera Outbreak Fight In Hoima


CNOOC has handed over assorted items worth $10,000 to Hoima District authorities to assist them in fighting the cholera epidemic. Speaking at the handover ceremony in Hoima, Mr. David Byaruhanga, the CNOOC Community Relations Manager, said that as a good partner; the Company found it necessary to contribute to the efforts of District in fighting the Cholera epidemic.

Earlier in the day the Company also donated assorted medicines and supplies to Buhuka health Centre III in Kyangwali Sub County Hoima District to help in Cholera treatment. The RDC Hoima District Mr Isaac Kawooya who was the Chief Guest appreciated the role Oil Companies are playing in the development of the Country.

He appreciated CNOOC Uganda’s CSR initiatives in health as this will ensure that the communities within their area of operation live in good health. The RDC called upon the host communities to support operations of CNOOC Uganda Limited as it has demonstrated that it’s a good neighbor, he further encouraged CNOOC to engage his office whenever they encounter challenges in their area of operation.

Mr Williams Byakagaba, the District Planner who represented the Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Hoima District appreciated the role of development partners like CNOOC Uganda in supporting the district in various causes and asked them to continue with the same spirit.

The Community members through their representative thanked CNOOC Uganda Limited for extending a helping hand to their Health Center as the donation will go a long way in addressing the cholera epidemic.

They appreciated CNOOC Uganda Limited for always extending support to them which demonstrated their commitment to the good neighbor philosophy of the Company. CNOOC Uganda Limited is the operator of King Fisher Oil fields in Kyangwali Hoima District.

The company has partnered with the District on various initiatives such as the Best Performers Award where 240 candidates at Primary, Ordinary level and advanced level have been rewarded for exceptional performance in examinations since 2012.

The company has also sponsored 70 students to undertake vocational skills training in various trades in Hoima district. In addition 2 students from Hoima District are undertaking petroleum studies at a Chinese University as part of capacity building of the host communities.

Lake Albert Gas To Facilitate Iron Ore Processing In Kigezi


The great Kigezi region in western Uganda will get a big iron ore smelting plant, president Yoweri Museveni told a political rally in Nfasha village, Kacherere Parish, West Rubanda constituency, Kabale district. 

Museveni who is seeking re-election as president of Uganda said the region is rich in mineral resources that can be exploited to transform and enrich the country. “Rubanda is rich in iron ore resources. The NRM Government wants to build a big iron ore smelting plant. 

The gas from Lake Albert will be delivered to Butogota and the neighbouring areas to facilitate the processing of iron ore,” he said, adding that the target was to produce and process one million tons of iron per day. 

The president revealed that the resources available were sufficient to cover a period of 45 to 50 years. The country, according to Museveni, would benefit a lot because the processed iron today fetches US $ 550 per ton. 

However, his competitor and former close ally, former Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi during a presidential campaign rally in Kabale district faulted his former boss for failing to make deliberate efforts to process the iron ore. 

Aerial geological surveys conducted by the Geological Surveys and Mines Directorate GSMD in Kigezi sub-region show that there are 200 million metric tons of iron ore deposits are in the region. This means Uganda can potentially get US$ 110 trillion. 

"Currently, we have over 200 million tonnes reserves of hematite iron ore in southwestern Uganda and 60 million tonnes of magnetite iron ore in the south eastern part of the country and still have huge potential for exploration,"  Francis Natukunda, a senior geologist at Uganda's Department of Geological Survey and Mines, is quoted by New Vision saying.

According to Natukunda, if the iron ore is extracted, it would not be exported, but rather used domestically to fuel demand for steel in the construction industry. Uganda banned iron ore exports in 2012. 

“Uganda’s geographical position gives it access to over 500 million people, including COMESA and SADC and the recent population surge in the countries forming these regional blocks will trigger demand for construction materials from our industries,” state minister for investment, Gabriel Ajedra Aridru told a sector conference in Kampala last year. 

Iron Ore is a key raw material in making steel. Local steel makers like Roofings have shown interest in making significant investment into exploration, mining and processing of iron ore to add values and eventual exportation.

Museveni said his Government would extend electricity from the Muko junction off the Kabale – Kisoro road to benefit a number of places in the area including Muko, Nfasha, Rubanda Mission, Ikumba Health Centre,nBugyera, Ruhuriza and Kiyabe.



Pension Fund Tipped On Investing In Energy Sector, Oil Refinery


Uganda shouldn’t be borrowing money from China to fund its energy projects when institutions like National Social Security Fund (NSSF) have the money and capacity to finance such initiatives, President Yoweri Museveni has said.

The president was speaking at a dinner organized to celebrate 30 years of NSSF Uganda’s existence at Serena Hotel in Kampala. The NSSF is a National Saving Scheme mandated by government through the NSSF Act to provide social security services to employees in Uganda. 

“We borrowed money from china to build Karuma dam and we (government) contributed 15 percent. In the future, NSSF could have a stake in dams like Ayago; Karuma is already funded,” the president siad.  President Museveni said Ayago dam alone would generate about 800MW. 

Karuma Power Station is a 600 megawatts hydroelectric power project under construction at Karuma Falls on the banks of River Nile in Uganda. Construction of the dam and power station officially started on 12 August 2013 and will go on for the next five years. 

Karuma is projected to be the largest power-generating plant in East Africa when completed. Construction of the power plant was awarded to Sinohydro Corporation, a Chinese construction company. 

In 2014, the Chinese Export-Import (EXIM) Bank of China agreed to fund 85 percent of the construction costs, in the form of a repayable concessionary loan. The Ugandan government will fund 15 percent of the cost. 

In March 2015, the Ugandan Parliament assented to two loans totaling $1.435 billion, from EXIM Bank for the construction of Karuma. And now the president wants local financiers to participate in projects like Ayago Power Station and Isimba Power Station. 

The President’s words came shortly after the Fund’s managing director Richard Byarugaba asked government to put in place ‘necessary vehicles for investment’ so that they can play a part in long term financing.

 “We are able to finance infrastructure projects like roads, railway, the oil refinery and hydropower dams. Give us this opportunity, we won’t let you down.” Byarugaba, the NSSF managing director appealed to government. 

According to NSSF board Chairman Patrick Byabakama Kaberenge the Fund currently has approximately 500,000 active members who make periodic contributions with an asset base of over Shs6 trillion ($1.8 billion), making it the largest pension Fund in East Africa to-date. 

The Fund laid out its strategic path for the next 10 years, with a stronger emphasis on; growth in customer satisfaction to over 90%, providing members with an interest of at least 2% above 10 year inflation, growing the Fund size to Shs20 trillion and to become one of best pension Fund worldwide. 

The National Social Security Fund (NSSF) has paid Sh1, 039bn in benefits to over 200,000 members over the last 30 years. This feat has been inspired by consistent growth in benefits paid from about Shs1.6m in 1986 when the fund was started to Shs186 billion in 2015. 

“Over the 30 years, we have grown to become the largest Fund in East Africa by value and the largest financial institution in Uganda.” Byarugaba said in a press statement ahead of the 30 year celebrations.

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