The state minister for trade and cooperatives Michael Werikhe has commended Rosebud and Premier Roses for the work they doing in floriculture industry.
The two firms owned by Ruparelia Group have continued to be the leading exporter of rose flowers to inthe international market. Because of their resilience, they have earned Uganda billions of shillings in foreign exchange.
"We commend both Rosebud and Premier Roses for continuing to remain the biggest exporters of high quality Rose stems to the international market and do encourage their colleagues to double their efforts in terms of improved products to attract better export returns" the minister said in an interview with Xpress Times, a local online news publisher.
He said that Rosebud did the country proud when they exported close to 16m high quality Rose stems to the World market during this year’s International Mothers day which falls every May 13th, a season where the world flowers demand shoots up especially in the Americas, Europe and the Scandinavian countries.
"Statistics emerging from the sector indicates that Rosebud being the biggest exporter of Rose flowers did our country proud by way of increasing their export capacity down from the normal 13m stems per month to over 16m respectively just within that one month of International Mother’s day festive," he revealed.
"My ministry which is strategically charged with responsibility of observing figures of all types of exports from Uganda shall continue to work with these investors to ensure that all necessary technical and logistical support is extended to them because of their pivotal role of empowering our people in fighting household poverty by way of creating thousands of jobs for them not only in the flower sub sector but other key areas of the economy such as education, Real Estate, hospitality industry, Insurance among others” noted Werikhe.
The farm manager Ravi Kumar exclusively told Xpress Times recently that they have stepped up their corporate social responsibilities [CSR] efforts by way of helping the community of Namulanda which surrounds both their two farms to benefit from a special pack of free social services like access to clean water, healthcare, education and sports among others.
"We sincerely appreciate the close cordial relationship we enjoy with the community of Namulanda at large as we closely ensure that they access free social services like access to water, financial services, education, healthcare and sports respectively as these are part of our official company corporate social responsibility work of giving back to the immediate communities’’ noted Kumar.
Rajiv Ruparelia the managing director of Ruparelia Group said Rosebud is now well placed and has capacity to export more high quality Rose flowers to the World market because they have increased on their acreage output, fighting pests on farm and the deliberate introduction of new high quality flower species.
"Rosebud assures the country that they have developed full capacity that enables them to export more volumes of flowers to the world and promised to continue creating more jobs especially empowering the women who are vulnerable to poverty as they carry the biggest burden of nurturing their families" Rajiv observed.
In 2010, a new private university, Victoria University, opened its door to Ugandans who wanted to pursue post secondary education but wanted something different from what the existing universities were offering.
However, it was not smooth sailing for Edulink Holdings Limited which owned the university at the time. Dr. Sudhir Ruparelia came to the rescue and in 2013, Victoria University, became part of the Ruparelia Group.
The University was moved from its original home on Kiira road to Victoria Towers on Jinja Road, opposite Dewinton Road in the accessible city center.
In this interview, the vice chancellor Dr. Krishna N. Sharma expounds on the abilities and future of the University.
What is the difference between the Victoria University of five years back and the one of today 2018?
Victoria University is growing on a steady progress, every university grows slowly and universities are not like secondary schools, where you can keep loading in students on short term basis. You know any university is a universal thing, it doesn’t handle only teaching, it has many responsibilities, it does teaching, community engagements, research and publication .
when we talk about the university progression we talk about all the aspects. When we started we had only four programs in 2010 but now we have 20 programs, we have reviewed all our curricular with in these five years and the beautiful thing is that government doesn’t stop you from keeping reviewing your curricular in order to do something extra to your students.
When it comes to publications, we are building up capacity and just with in 2017 we published 25 publications including two books and our students have published because right now we have 5-6 publications in the pipeline.
On community engagement, we are moving because we keep going to camps to do the stress tests, counseling and apart from that our students have new creation, they have set new small nutrition groups in schools.
Right now if you visit primary schools in Kamwokya pupils will tell you what to eat or not what to eat, how to clean your hands in homes and communities they are living in courtesy of knowledge they got from our students.
These students do their research within the community. So when you talk of progression, yes we are moving.
Where do you see Victoria University going within the next 10 years or more?
we have many plans but the education system is such a dynamic field, you cannot say that you are going to do A-B-D-C. We have bigger plans, we are going to start more masters programs, we are going to have more international collaborations like now we are in touch with Iceland government for a project, and we are in touch with one Swedish company and some hospitals to help them in research.
In future we are going to focus much on research and innovations. And certainly we shall set up branches in the next 10 or 15 years, in other parts of the country, that’s the plan but initially we wanted to first build up our expendable own campus in Kampala. so once we grow and become bigger then we shall expand this campus.
What makes Victoria University different from other universities in Uganda? Let me start with the different aspects of personalities of students or the student’s life. When you went to university trust me you went to study and pass the examination.
For example you may have some good friends you studied with and they are of big ranks in government and you can call them and say hi, and that kind of environment is what we want to give to our students and not only on national level but also internationally.
In lifestyle, were are in the heart of the town, they have that exposure, a person can come from the village and then learns how to live in high society.
When new students come here and see the cleanliness here after spending with us three years they will not want to see dirty environment in their homes or where they are employed.
They also want to keep the open roof policy. We don’t treat them as students, we treat them as participants and our methodology of teaching is very beautiful I can tell you.
What do you do to students who come from far? Does university have students’ halls of residence? First of all we don’t differentiate our students, we treat all of them equally, we identify their challenges and we sort it.
Those who want to rent hostels they can rent, our hostels are located just near at Nkrumah road about five minutes from here, students who come from abroad, we pick them on the first trip, our admissions office help them for visa .
Every year we see thousands and thousands graduating and joining street life, searching for jobs, but with little success. Who should we blame for this unemployment in Uganda? Government?
I think government is not a problem, what else do you expect from government? The first problem is the thousands and thousands of graduates.
You cannot teach one thousands while you are graduating one thousand. Teach the number of students that you can handle. You see in developed countries like in India if anyone wants to start nursing school, the nursing council has to come and tell you the number of students your supposed to teach.
What is lacking in Uganda is technical skill, students go to classroom, a lecturer comes and you know professors have their own problems all over the world. They want students to read what is written in the book but the book is outdated, which is different with Victoria University.
We teach knowledge, attitude and skills. In UK or other developed countries I don’t think people die to get government jobs, graduates want to work for themselves because they have knowledge and skill. Literally governments around the world cannot employ every one.
It’s us the institutions that must prepare students for the market. For example we have mentored some of our students at Victoria University to start up their own companies.in Uganda it’s only our nursing students that do dissection not anywhere else. Uganda’s problem of unemployment is the poor quality of graduates institutions produce.
Skills development in the oil and gas industry is a key component in preparing Ugandans to work in this new moneyed industry. In this industry we talk to Dr. Drake Kyarimpa, the Coordinator of Oil and Gas Training at Victoria University Kampala.
Victoria University Kampala is one of the few tertiary institutions offering oil and gas related training, right now, what is the Department of Petroleum and Gas Studies under the Faculty of Business and Management offering?
What I can say is that the programs that Victoria University has been offering, the short courses which run for sex weekends and the long term program, the BSc in Oil and Gas Accounting, which is three years, are actively running.
These are skill imparting courses; normally we include practicals aspects in all the modules we delivers in the oil and gas certificate courses. We have the theory and practical part of the training.
The practical part is enhanced by field trips to the albertine region. The field trip is compulsory once you do the six weeks. We work with ministry of energy and mineral development and oil companies to make these trips happen.
Our target are students who have finished A-Levels and has two principal passes; that is the minimum for the certificate courses. We cannot admit someone who is or has only finished senior four. Then we are also looking those others working in the industry.
Apart from those who have completed A-Level, all the others, whether you are a degree holder, diploma holder in any other sector of the economy, but you want to want or have interest in knowing the workings of the oil and gas industry, we can admit and train you.
We are now recruiting delegates for short courses, for July-August intake. We train our delegates along the entire oil and gas value chain.
Lets talk about accreditation, oil and gas industry is quite demanding and sensitive, there are international accrediting bodies and organizations, are you working with any or has any accredited you to carry out these training?
You know very well that this University wouldn't be existing if it has not been accredited by Uganda National Council for Higher Education (NCHE). This implies that all courses offered by Victoria University are genuine and of high quality. Most importantly, the short courses offered here are localized and introductory modules.
The advantage Victoria University has when it comes to oil and gas training is that the quality of our training programs has been enhanced by our partnership with Coventry University in the United Kingdom.
We are coordinating an oil and gas project with Coventry University and Ministry of Education and Sports called Twinning for Curriculum Development, International Accreditation and Adaption and Training in Petroleum Related Construction Trades at Uganda Technical College, Kichwamba.
In the long term, we hope that Coventry University together with the ministry of education, will also accredit all the oil and gas short courses at Victoria University.
You mentioned that you are worried our graduates won’t be accepted in the industry, this is not going to happen. Some of our students who did short courses have been absorbed and are now working with oil companies and service providers. All they needed was basic knowledge to be able to work in the industry.
Others have used these certificates to upgrade their education in the UK. I have recommended about five or six who are admitted. You cannot be admitted in UK if they don’t value the programs you have studied locally.
In terms of using it to work, these short certificate courses are basic. An introduction to how the market works. These students cannot be engineers of geologists. But what you should know is that Victoria University is in the right direction in acquiring all accreditation.
Under this Kichwamba project, Coventry University has a City and Guilds Collage which will accredit the four courses in vocational skills. But we also have an understanding that the ministry of education will allow Victoria University to offer the same courses once they are accepted.
Do you have a time frame to say between now and then Kichwamba should be able to offer these Coventry University accredited training programs?
The project is a two and half year project. We are in the second phase of its implementation. We are making sure the labs in Kichwamba work well and that they have the right equipment. We want the international partners to come when the labs and equipment work well. That is where are are now.
We begin instruction (teaching) at Kichwamba this September. This means that by the time teaching is allowed, then all courses have been accredited. The first graduads for this program will come through mid half of 2019 - one year certificate, 70 percent practical.
We are talking about students who are going to build the pipeline. This is purely a government program. Coventry and Victoria University are implementing agencies. We have the capacity. We can fly in the facilitators and they teach our students.
We are in the development phase of the oil and gas industry, is there time for people to train and be able to get employed in the industry because infrastructure development which is supposed to employ the biggest number of Ugandans is already happening?
Somehow, when you look at the timeline of the implementation of some of these projects you note that we will miss some and get some. Under the refinery project, you will hear government looking for the EPC company.
When the EPC company is contracted, it takes another good period of time to ensure that this company is in place and functioning. Remember here you are producing graduates with HSE knowledge, graduates with the basics of the industry, they are already existing.
What value does Coventry bring to this partnership?
The facilities and facilitators and instructors of this program are administered by Victoria University. By virtual of that, we have the advantage of accessing high quality training material from Coventry University.
Coventry is a leading trainer of oil and gas accredited courses therefore by being partners with them it means we can also have courses accredited by them. If we have Coventry accreditation, the issue of certifying our courses here becomes much more easier.
Since you are here at Victoria University coordinating oil and gas training, are we going to see a new degree or diploma course introduced to add to these that are already existing?
My focus now is on these short courses to meet the training needs in the country but in the future, this is possible. The capacity to develop a training program is not hard. We had started a Bsc in Oil and Gas management, the draft is there. It is a matter of submitting it to National Council for Higher Education for consideration.
We are already offering certificate courses like Introduction To The Oil And Gas Industry Certificate, Certificate In Health, Safety And Environmental Management, Certificate In Oil And Gas Supply Chain And Logistics Management, Certificate In Oil And Gas Project Management and BSc in Oil and Gas Accounting.
The girl child in Uganda, like it is in many developing countries, is growing up in a world that is challenging than never before. The problems they are facing is insurmountable but that has not stopped Pimer Peace Monica, a student at Victoria University Kampala to dream big.
For Peace, a 24 year old student studying Procurement and Logistics management, every effort counts and through his Non Government Organization called Nile Girls Forum she has set out to sensitive and empower girls in West Nile, one of the most impoverished regions in the country.
In this interview Peace tells her story, which has so far seen her rub shoulders with some of the most influential women in Uganda and international dignitaries like the United States Ambassador to Uganda Deborah Ruth Malac and Stephanie Rivoal, the French Ambassador to Uganda.
Recently Peace and her Nile Girls Forum participated in the Women for Women Awards event hosted by the French Embassy.Please read her story as told by Peace herself in an email interview.
Please tell us about yourself – who are you?
My name is Pimer Peace Monica. I’m an Alur from Zombo district, Wes Nile sub –region in Northern Uganda. I am the Chief Executive Officer (C.E.O) of Nile Girls Forum and an Ambassador of CHEZA in Northern Uganda.
Tell our readers the story of Nile Girls Forum?
Nile Girls Forum is a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) that is fully registered with the National Bureau of NGOs in Uganda. My colleagues, Ms. Unyuda Mariah Elsie, Mr.Asiku Francis, Ms. Letaru Freeda and Ms. Kadimala Grace met two years ago through Facebook; we had never met in real life. Since we had a common goal of transforming our community in westnile, the five of us decided to meet and have the organization fully registered.
What inspired you to start the Forum?
My mother was one of the greatest inspiration because she believed so much in me and supported me through my education. This motivated me to aim higher and encourage my community to value education.
When I looked at the community, Zombo district where I come from, the girl child had very many challenges including high school dropout rates, teenage pregnancies, child marriage to mention but a few. I, therefore, took it upon myself to start an NGO that would transform and address everyday challenges of the girl child in entire West Nile sub- region.
What do you intend to achieve with the Forum?
We intend to have more girls acquiring formal education, equipping girls with hands on skills for example tailoring, creating more health awareness, sensitizing the community about child marriage.
What are your focal areas of focus as a person and NGO?
The areas of focus are girl child education, child marriage, teenage pregnancies, women health, gender based violence and youth empowerment.
How do you plan to manage time between reading books at Victoria University in Kampala and performing your role as a CEO of an ambitious NGOin West Nile?
I keep an updated schedule of my school work and office work. I set aside specific time throughout the week to focus on academics in order to balance the two. I do not procrastinate and prioritize my work, make time for myself and also get a good night’s sleep.
What change do you want to make in the world and how can we make this world a better place to live in?
I want to give the girls a voice but also teach them how to use it to make positive change in the world. We can make the world a better place by being our brother’s keeper (Genesis 4:9).
Which specific issue regarding women’s rights is most important to you?
Girl child education is most important to me because education addresses so many things. Girls have a great potential to change the world. “Educate a girl, empower a nation”.
“Girls are the future mothers of any society. Every girl that receives an education is likely to make education a priority for her children. It is a ripple effect of positive change in the community and country”. C.E.O Dubai Cares.
From your experience working with young girls, what are the challenges that need to be addressed by the community, government and CSOs like Nile Girls Forum?
In addition to girl child education, gender based violence, to mention but a few; there are other issues that need to be addressed for example, menstrual hygiene, fistula,cervical cancer, fibroids and breast cancer.
What tools are you using to address these disparities in West Nile?
The most important tool we use is seminars at schools and local communities. In light of seminars, we also use radio talk shows on local radio stations in West Nile for example Voice of Life radio station and Paidha FM to sensitize our people.
Women’s health is a global issue which hasn’t been sufficiently addressed, what health concerns in West Nile is haunting women in your area of operation?
Fistula, cervical cancer, HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis are currently a threat to women’s health in West Nile.
Tell us about the state of child marriages and the impact it is having on the welfare of the communities?
According to the statistics of child marriage in Uganda, Northern Uganda has the highest prevalence rate of 59 % with West Nile sub-region at 50%. We should also keep in mind that child marriage cuts across for both girls and boys.
Child marriage affects all aspects of a child life and violates their rights, disrupts their education, exposes them to violence and abuse, exposes them to health risks and more often infants born to adolescent mothers have high risk of being born premature.
What are some of the achievements that you have been able to register as an organization run by young women and students?
We have been able to partner with a number of organizations such as CHEZA, Forum for Christian Empowerment, Keep Me In School, Arua Public Secondary School, Health Science Student Association Victoria University and Rotaract Club of Victoria University.
We have also been honored to have a number of outreaches in the community for example; Sanyu Babies Home in Kampala, Imvepi Refugee Settlement In Terego and keep Arua clean campaign in Arua town.
We were also honored to be part of the Women4Women awards that took place at the French Ambassador’s residence hosted by H.E the French ambassador to Uganda Stephanie Rivoal, an event that was organized by Ambassadors, heads of mission, directors and leaders.
We look forward to strengthening our partners with these organizations and more to come.
And what are the challenges you face running this organization?
As organization there are definitely a number of challenges we face ranging from insufficient facilitation for hard to reach areas, insufficient funds to support the girl child education and cultural norms whereby in some communities child marriage is legal.
How are men in the communities where you work responding to your activities – are they responding well or not?
There has been positive response from the men, especially the local community leaders; for example Mr. Marwothnga Ceasor, an LC1 official in Paidha has shown support towards Nile Girls Forum and is willing to work with us in order to successfully implement our program.
What is the role of youths towards the future development of the country like Uganda?
For Uganda to achieve sustainable development there must be a deliberate move that involves the youth at all levels and also acknowledges their ideas and potential.
Many young girls out there struggle to identify their purpose in life or fear to go for their dreams because they lack self belief or people with them don’t believe in them yet for Namuli Precious Priscilla being surrounded by good people at Victoria University Kampala was a turning point as she explains in this Interview with EARTHFINDS a few weeks after emerging as Miss Victoria University.
Congratulations for emerging winner of Miss Victoria University (VU) Kampala, please tell us about yourself – who are you?
My name is Namuli Precious Priscilla, a foundation student at Victoria University. I am a true Ugandan that loves and believes in God.
What do you like about Victoria University?
Victoria University is a place I could call a second home. It has all the suitable conditions that one needs to read, learn and excel. I got to meet people from different countries and I’m actually getting along pretty well, as I learn new languages too. All I can say is that it’s the place to be for a start to success.
What does it feel like being Miss Victoria University?
Oh! Well, I should say, I feel like a Queen already and this is such a good feeling because I know people are expecting a lot from me, which I’m ready to give as well.
What inspired you to join Miss Victoria University?
During my time in high school, I always told my friends that I wanted to become Miss Uganda and that one day they would see me among the contestants. I wasn’t really serious about it but I had it in mind.
My friends always said that I would need to go to the gym for like a year in order for me to contest and we always just ended up laughing it off. But when the pageant came up, students of the university told me to contest but I was scared, I had never done such a thing.
Though I liked things like that (pageants), I didn’t think I would see myself contest. Everyone around me saw the potential in me and I ended up in the contest. Now that I was already in, I knew there was no turning back, I had to make everyone that believed in me proud, so that pushed me to do all that I could.
What have you learned from Miss Victoria University competition?
I’ve learned not to undermine any single thought or dream in life because it could be your start off point to success. I’ve learned not to let anyone discourage me for as long as I have the potential to do something.
How is Miss Victoria University changing your life?
Being Miss Victoria University, I’m more like a leader now. I’ve always been the down to earth type of girl but now almost the whole country has read about me in the news papers. I’ve met different people now, people I didn’t ever think I’d meet in my life, so its such a big change in my life.
Is your family supportive of your decision to participate in a beauty pageant?
Oh yes! My parents are my biggest push in this. My dad always helps me out in case I have to talk to a group of people. He is not in the country but that’s how supportive he is.
My mum too, always around to make sure I look good and to ensure that people get the best and most out of me. My siblings as well, everyone in my family is really supportive about it.
As Miss Victoria University, What do you intend to achieve as a person and for the university?
I intend to better myself as a woman and as an individual, to take up any opportunity that comes my way because being Miss Victoria University has opened doors for me. I’m obviously the face of the University now and so I plan to take it to another level, encourage other vacists to join me.
How do you plan to manage time between reading books and performing your role as Miss Victoria University?
As they say, there’s always time for everything, if I’m needed in class for a lecture, I’ll always be there and I’ll also serve my duties as Miss Victoria.
What would be your priority objectives that you would want to achieve during your reign as Miss Victoria University?
My first priority would be to let the females in the university stand out and be able to speak up. I would also want to be able to forward students' problems, issues and concerns to the administrators for a better stay at the University.
Many times people realize the value of university education when they have come out of campus and have joined the employment world. However the case is different with Mbikamboli Idu Mikellides, a student at Victoria University Kampala.
In an exclusive interview Mikellides known to his peers as Mike reveals how studying a business course has shaped and changed his life. The second year student of business administration tells of how an entrepreneurship course unit taught him how to start a business.
Mike, a refugee from Bunia in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), would go on to implement what he had learnt in the lecture room to reality. He joined the business world when he opened up a supermarket at the border of Uganda and DRC.
“When I joined Victoria University, I didn’t have any business. I was not a businessman. In my life, I wanted to be a businessman, travel the world and be recognized all over the world, to be rich,” Mike narrates.
“So when I joined Victoria University, there is one course unit, entrepreneurship, which changed my life. It taught me how to start a business, how to take a risk, that is how I started my business.
I had an idea, in Uganda things are cheap and in DRC things are expensive. I said why can’t I buy things here and take them to DRC. Right now, I have twelve employees working for me, in my own company,” he explains how Victoria University shaped his business acumen.
Mike has since opened up a supermarket selling all sorts of things. “It is at the Uganda – DRC border. First thing in business, you need to locate a good place with demand to set your business. In Kampala we have so many supermarkets so I decided to go where there is none. The border area gave me an opportunity to start and grow easily,”
The student, who has secured land in DRC on which he wants to set up a cocoa plantation that will employ hundreds of people, says Victoria University ‘always tries to link you up with big people, to inspire you’, something which exposes students to opportunities.
But juggling business and studies is turning out to be a challenge. “Sometimes I have orders for the supermarket which I need to deliver. That means I have to leave school and go to kikuubo to do shopping, then send to the supermarket.
It can take me about two or three days. In the process, I am missing studies here at the university. But I try to balance my time. When I have an order or invoice to deliver, I call my suppliers, I only go to verify and send to the shop,”
He asked why he chose Victoria University among all universities in Uganda, Mike said: “I went to so many different universities. I tried to know deeply about them. I saw a big difference between Victoria University and other universities.
All are universities but there are specific things that drove me here. It is not only the building but their systems, their standards; Victoria University is different from other universities.”
Not many times do we see women get hold of top leadership positions in our society which is male dominated. It is even uncommon if the woman in question is a student at young but steadily growing university.
Maria Peggy Nabunya, the new guild president of Victoria University Kampala, has added her name to the short list of female guild presidents to rise that high in Uganda’s education history.
In this exlusive interview with Earthfinds, Ms Nabunya elaborates what this feat means to her, her plans for the university and vows to make an everlasting legacy at Victoria University Kampala, owned by businessman Dr. Sudhir Ruparelia.
Tell us about your background and the important parts of your life that the public should know about you as the new guild president of Victoria University Kampala.
My name is Maria Peggy Nabunya. I’m a student here at Victoria University Kampala. I’m doing a bachelors degree in science in public health, this is my second year. I have one and a half years to finish the course.
Aside from being a student, I have a television show. It is called Girl Talk. It was on NBS Television for some time but it is now in Kenya on Citizen Television.
I traveled a lot before university. I started my nursery here in Kampala. I did a little bit of my primary education at Kampala Parents’ School up to P3 then I left the country. I joined my parents in United Arab Emirates (UAE).
I stayed there for sometime before I came back in my O’level – in senior three (It is year nine in Cambridge education system). I came back and joined Agha Khan where I completed by O’level. Then for my A’level, I was at St Lawrence Crown City. While at Crown City I was the head girl.
What attracted you to join students’ leadership in schools that you attended? What inspired you to join school politics?
I have been a leader in high school before. In O’level I was junior house captain and in A’level I was the head girl. In my normal life, I am the first born. So leadership has been with me for a very long time.
So coming to Victoria University and be presented with an opportunity to be guild president was obvious for me, I had to do it. It is a challenge, that I am very well aware, but then it is also something I am sure I can take on.
What do you hate and love about leading your fellow students?
What I love about being a student leader is that if there is anything you want and love, you can easily push it directly to the people concerned and it happens. I also like the idea that being a student leader I can be able to interact with students.
What I hate about it is the meetings. I don’t like sitting in meetings.
Why did you choose Victoria University Kampala of all universities in Uganda and the world?
First of all given my background and moving around the world exposed me, when I saw and read about Victoria University, and talked to a few friends who had been here, it was just a perfect choice for me.
It is an international University. Here you are exposed to so much – networking, great internships plus I liked the idea of a getting a free laptop (Editor: Each student who joins Victoria University is given a free laptop).
Two years down the road as a student at Victoria University Kampala, how best can you describe your stay here, at this university?
My stay here at Victoria University has been one of a kind. It has not been like any other institution where I have been. People here are so warm and welcoming.
And the fact that we are not many students gives you a chance to interact with everyone at a very personal level. And you have access to everybody in administration.
We have an open door place so when you want to talk to a lecture, dean or the vice chancellor himself, it is very easy. They are willing to help you. My stay here has been awesome, the internship – it has been amazing.
Would you join Victoria University if you have another opportunity and task to choose which university to join for your post secondary education?
I would choose Victoria University in a heartbeat.
What inspired you to join student leadership here at Victoria University and later vie for guild presidency?
It is a very funny way how this came about. Like I said leadership has always been with me. There are people who saw it in me faster than I did last year. So they came to me and talked to me.
They asked if I had thought about being a student leader here at the University. The opportunity presented itself and I was not going to turn it down.
I was ready for leadership but I had not thought about it until I was approached.
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?
As a member of the previous guild cabinet there are many things that we achieved and we are very proud. My plan is that I want to leave a legacy.
I want people at Victoria University to look back and say in 2018 this was done. And because of that, I am looking at things that are going to last for a long time.
The plans that I have will start with us in this cabinet but will go on for a long time. First of all, I am looking at engaging students more in activities that make them use their brains.
At the end of the day we are going to leave this place and go out there in the working world. You have to go there when you are equipped. You know Victoria University is all about creating job creators but not job seekers.
So in that aspect, as guild president, I feel there is a lot that I can do with my team to make that happen. We are encouraging students to start something for themselves. We want to look at people developing their talents.
You mentioned in an earlier interview that you plan to engage other universities and other higher institutes of learning, how exactly do you plan to do this?
You see there are very many inte- university activities apart from sports. What we have been doing is that we have been so active in sports especially football.
There are also other activities happening that we hear about like the miss interuniversity competitions and leadership summits, we want to be part of all these.
As a former vice guild president, what are some of the pressing challenges that the student leadership and university management need to address?
First of all, the first thing that has been challenge is students’ cooperation. You know University students want to come, do their thing and get out. I intend to change it. I want people to be more engaged.
The other challenge is raising funds for the sustainability of the activities you want to carry out. But I have a strong team behind me, they are hands on. We have ways of addressing these challenges.
Now that you are the first female guild president of Victoria University, do you feel any pressure considering that people will want to know how a young woman leads such an outstanding University?
No, it’s not pressure but it does count – you are the first female president and you must leave a legacy, that sort of thing. I don’t feel pressurized.
I feel like I am representing women not only female students at Victoria University but other girls and women who may look up to me.
It is not pressure but a blessing for me as a feminist. It is important for me to see young women doing big things. I intend to use this blessing. My sleeves are rolled up.
As a guild president and student, how do you plan to balance the two demanding responsibilities?
Well, the key thing here is planning and being disciplined. I can juggle all of this if I am organized. This can only work if I plan well with my cabinet. I have a cabinet of nine people.
We need to be focused on our books because primarily we are here to study. The only way we can do that is to be ready and organized prior to anything else.
We need to organize ourselves and activities – say this is what we intend to do this semester and we hand-it in so that when the semester begins all we do is follow up so that it doesn’t eat up our study time.
The history of Victoria University Kampala will barely be written without the name Peter Isiko, the University’s third guild president. The computer science student on started handed over the guild presidency to another person who name will forever re-echo in the history of the University – Maria Peggey Nabunya, the first female guild president.
In this exclusive interview Peter Isiko dwells deeper into his one year rule as the top ranking student leader of the Ruparelia Group owned University located on Jinja road in Kampala, the capital of Uganda, East Africa. Read on.
How has been your reign as guild president of Victoria University? How can you describe it?
It has been bittersweet because there have been challenges as well as accomplishments. I have had several things that I wanted and managed to do and then others that I didn’t do. But overall I will give my reign as guild president of Victoria University a 60-40 score. The 60 percent is for the achievements and the 40 percent for the challenges I faced.
Talking of challenges, what are some of these challenges?
The biggest challenge has been the response from students. When you are at Victoria University it is not the same as any other local university. The main component of the student body is not native, they are not all Ugandan.
They come from so many different cultures so their interests vary. It is hard to get them on a common ground. Obviously things like sports and clubs they try to contribute but other activities it was not so easy to get a common ground.
The other challenge was the communication gap between administration and students because of the culture issue. If you have a student from South Africa, Zimbabwe or Nigeria, the way they communicate is different from a Ugandan student, typically.
Obviously the administration can communicate something that you as a Ugandan can understand but the Nigerian may perceive it in a different way so you have to bridge the gap. Those are some of the challenges I can point out for now.
And what are some the things you have done for the University as guild president? What are your achievements?
We managed to set up a vibrate sports club where games like football, basketball and swimming are now very strong and vibrate at the university. Before there were no games the University was participating in.
We also managed to build student clubs at the university; the Rotaract Club of Victoria University was chartered. It is now a growing club with a strong a membership of 30 students.
The business club is also up and running, they are having their launch next semester, we couldn’t do it this semester but they recently had a business dinner.
I also managed to build faculty activities. For example the health science faculty, they just had their own health week. The faculty of technology had their technology boot camp under the guild council were the security mobile app was built.
Under my reign I wanted to do two things; one, to show the intellectual prowess of our student and also engage them to the outside world. These I achieved.
How has being a guild president at Victoria University impacted you at a personal level?
I have met so my people in my field, I am a computer science students, who wouldn’t otherwise listen to you twice before but now they pay close attention they say since he is a guild president let us hear what he has to say.
So at a personal level I have made connections with people who are going to help me out professionally the moment I finish university, this being my last semester.
And how has it impacted you academically?
I maintained my good grades throughout like it were but being guild president imparts more pressure on you. Instead of reading for two hours, you might find that you need to find a third extra hour to read maybe because half the time you were not in class or something like that. It gets hectic.
Would you recommend someone to join Victoria University?
Yes definitely, Victoria University is growing. It is a University that looks at high standards, a university that looks out for the best for their students so when someone joins the university they can’t leave the same way they came. They will meet very many high profile people which help their careers.
At the same time, the learning system at Victoria University is not a typical school system, its quite different. It looks out for things that will train you for the future. It is an interesting and different place to study from.
Now that you have tasted leadership as guild president, would you consider joining mainstream politics and political leaders at a national level?
After being guild president, I understand what is required of a leader but usually my principle has been that always go for leadership when there is a change you can bring to the people.
It is not about people loving you or people supporting you but sometimes it is about what change you can bring about in society or community. Right now I don’t see what I can do because my vision right now is to move in the realm of technology development and innovations.
Maybe we can wait and see what the future holds but at the moment no, I don’t see myself going into that kind of leadership.
Victoria University Kampala recently hired Nigerian associate professor Dr. Omotayo Adegbuyi as the new dean faculty of business and management. He took charge of his new office last month.
Earthfinds caught up with him for an exclusive interview to tell us what he brings to the fastest growing private university, his plans and importance of the faculty to the University. Below are the excerpts.
Dr. Omotayo, welcome to Victoria University Kampala,please briefly tell us about yourself as a person and your professional experience as an academician.
I’m an associate professor of marketing and entrepreneurship. I started my educational career at a University called Enugu State University of Technology in Nigeria where I had my first degree in Marketing.
In our country, we have what is called National Youth Service which requires that every graduate must serve his or her fatherland for one year before moving on to do other things preferred. It is a policy that is compulsory.
So I did that in 1998 at Nigerian Breweries PLC where I got practical and important marketing experience.
After the one year of youth service, I decided to further my education and went for my masters’ degree in marketing, this time at University of Lagos. When I finished my masters I went into employment. I
After years in formal employment, I got appointment to Covenant University as an assistant lecturer; it’s a private university just like you see Victoria University Kampala. That university was two years old when I joined in 2013.
Later, I applied for my PhD at Covenant University, also in marketing – all along, my life has been all about marketing. I had my PhD in 2011; eight years after I had joined as a lecturer.
As a new University, it was not allowed to enroll students for master and PhD programs, it was after we graduated about four five sets of graduate that they allowed us to have PhD programs.
What attracted you to come to Victoria University and Uganda in particular?
I was home and I received a phone call from a lady I didn’t know telling me about the opening at Victoria University in Kampala. Apparently they had looked at my profile and liked it.
I checked out Victoria University online and I saw that it had a good prospect; its future is bright. They sent me a questionnaire which I responded to and a few days later I was invited for an interview which we did on Skype.
Like I said before, this is a prospecting University just like when I started at Covenant University which was two years old when I joined. They are now the second biggest university in Nigeria.
So that is how I came to be here at Victoria University. Since I started with a young university, Covenant University, I said let me go and contribute to the development of Victoria University.
What should we expect from you as dean faculty of business and management studies here at Victoria University?
As a dean, I have been given responsibilities in my contract letter, very massive and a lot. I will divide them into three categories.
Number one, as a dean I am expected to coordinate academic activities of the University. To make sure lecturers are there on time and that they have quality notes they are giving to our students.
I have to also make sure that lecturers deliver their lectures using modern technology and equipment. The University has to be ranked among the best in Uganda and the world; you cannot achieve that unless you start with quality assurance with your teaching.
Apart from that, I also have to make sure students are there on time and lecturers must not miss class. Students must be proud about the lectures, how they feel about the lecturers and methods of teaching. I have to make sure the exams are of the right standards.
The second area is research. As a faculty, we are established to find solutions to problems – solution provider and center. So you need to research into the problems people, companies and community so that you come back and find solutions.
I am planning to introduce a program called Town and Gown Seminar Series. We will identify companies, invite their executives, managers to come and talk to our students. To tell them how it is done outside there. If we are talking about branding, we invite someone who is successful in branding.
Under research, we are teaching our students to write journal articles which we can publish under the name of the student and University address. The University gets to be known all over the world as a research university.
The third area is community service. No organization exists in community in isolation. We want to look at a situations where the University gives back to the community in form of corporate social responsibility.
How important is your faculty to this University and education system in the country at large?
The faculty is very key and important not only to the University but the entire economic system. We have business related courses that we offer like courses.
In this world, everybody is in business; no matter the job and business you are doing, you will need advice from our faculty.
We are planning to go into consultancy, like I said, the University is a solution tower so we are planning to go in the market and tell them that the University is organizing business clinics.
We will give them our proposal to train their staff. When we train them, they go back and see the impact. Apart from school fees, we are looking at consultancy to generate revenue for the university.
Why would a parent bring their child to the faculty of business and management here at Victoria University?
I would encourage a parent to bring a child here because the child has the prospects of establishing own business after the course. We are going to teach them how to start businesses from year one.
Another reason is all our courses are approved by the regulatory body. They have given us approval to run all those programs. So when a student finishes a program here, if they want to go and upgrade elsewhere, they can because our programs are approved and certified.
There is assurance that after the degree, our certificate is recognized worldwide. You apply for master in any university in any university in any part of the world. Also when we establish our post graduate programs, you can stay here.
Solarplaza and GOGLA recently announced the second edition of Unlocking Solar Capital (USC) Africa. After hosting last year's inaugural edition in Nairobi, Kenya, the pair will be organizing its follow-up in Abidjan, Ivory Coast.
The high-level 2-day conference centered around unlocking capital for new solar project development in Africa provides an original and exclusive international platform and will take place on the 25-26th of October, 2017.
In preparation for the event, Solarplaza analyst Marco Dorothal speaks with 3 of the event's main driving forces - Lydia van Os and Adriaan van Loon of Solarplaza and Eveline Jansen of GOGLA discussing the challenges and opportunities for African solar development in the region.
The story of 'Unlocking Solar Capital' did not start in Abidjan. Why did you choose to hold the first edition in Nairobi and what were the main lessons learnt?
Eveline: "The unique design of the USC Africa conference characterizes how partnerships and collaboration can strengthen the solar sector: The Nairobi edition was the first investor conference to bring the off-grid industry together with on-grid and mini-grid segments of the solar sector.
While the needs and demands of the three sectors are diverse, it is vital to maintain open channels of communication in order to effectively advocate for beneficial policy environments and work together towards the shared goal of increased electricity access.
The success of this first edition was a testimony of catering to a new demand for a more holistic approach - and clear indication that there is a need to keep that momentum going."
Adriaan: "Nairobi was chosen to host the first edition of Unlocking Solar Capital because it is the business capital of East Africa. As Eveline mentioned, a truly unique factor was the unique involved mix of on and off-grid players. The fact that a lot of industry players are already established in Nairobi enabled us to grow the conference bigger than we ever imagined.
However, as a conference that aims to cover the whole continent, we learned that the best way to have both a strong international and continental presence is to move to other regions as well to be able to reach a larger and more diverse audience and address different markets."
Lydia: "Currently, we see an extremely promising growth of the solar industry on the African continent. To increase our impact we want to be close to the developments and aim to take our international network to the local sources where opportunities arise.
We have a holistic vision regarding the joint potential of on and off-grid energy, as we think both are crucial to work towards fully electrifying African countries. To accomplish this vision we have chosen to organize the conference in Africa, for Africa."
Now, moving on to Abidjan, what are the differences between the locations and how are you buildingon the success of the previous edition?
Eveline: "Moving the second edition to West Africa is not only essential for a truly holistic approach to the Sub-Saharan Africa market, but also a recognition of the rapidly developing solar market in the region."
Lydia: "This year the event is going to take place in Abidjan as we want to expand upon the success of last year, while at the same time involving more of the francophone community and investors.
Hosting the event in different markets allows us to not only bring the conference platform and our relations to exciting new regions, but also allows us to leverage the knowledge and experience of our previous editions by sharing them with regional partners and attendees."
How did you reflect new regional developments in your program?
Lydia: "Our program focuses on opportunities for both established as well as upcoming market players. With the Solar Incubator, which is co-organized with Phanes Group PV, smaller players in the African solar market are challenged to pitch their projects with the chance of winning mentorship and co-development facilities.
At the same time, we will host sessions that focus on utility-scale projects. For instance, we have a panel in which we'll discuss the bankability of solar projects, which is a recurring challenge, featuring leading regional experts from Standard Bank, Scatec Solar, the EU commission and Africa50."
Adriaan: "Compared to our previous event, we did see a need for more collaborations between development financial institutions (DFIs) and the private sector in order to spearhead the growth of the solar sector in the more challenging countries. Furthermore, the advancements in mini-grid technology will be represented in our 'Generations' track, focusing on bigger mini-grid projects, as well as in our 'Connections' track, which focuses purely on micro-grid developments."
How do you see the future unfolding for the African region; what are the most important things that need to be achieved in order to succeed and how will you hope that USC Africa can contribute to this?
Eveline: "There is a clear need for greater communication and understanding between the different stakeholders in the solar sector, as well as recognizing the patterns and shared challenges in the hugely diverse individual markets. Unlocking Solar Capital Africa accelerates this process by providing opportunities for focused interaction between these stakeholders."
Adriaan: "We aim to contribute by providing people with a platform to share best practices and meet the stakeholders that you need to further your business. With the conference platform, we seek to solve Africa's solar energy funding gap by connecting financiers and developers, and having key market players share their practical experiences. Furthermore, the floor will be given to innovative startups to pitch their business models and secure financing."
Lydia: "There is a lot of dedication among solar industry players to bring electricity to the 600 million Africans that currently do not have access to modern energy solutions. This dedication is easy to understand from both a market perspective, which is obviously very large, as from the conviction that everyone should have access to electricity and that we shouldn't burden the environment through the use of fossil fuels, while great alternatives are readily available at a competitive price point. We want Unlocking Solar Capital Africa to be the driving platform for Africa's solar revolution moving forward."