Anita Badagawa is a final year student of Petroleum Geosciences and Production at Makerere University. She currently represents the petroleum students as the President of the Makerere University (MUK) Society of Petroleum Engineers Student Chapter. She shared with Earthfinds’ Sam Jumbwike their dream for the Oil and Gas Sector in Uganda
Tell more about the Makerere University Society of Petroleum Engineers/Students Chapter. How did it come about?
Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) MUK Student Chapter was basically created under the SPE Uganda Section to extend the arms and influence of the Society of Petroleum Engineers International (SPEI) in Petroleum Institute. The SPEI consists of 168, 000 members in 144 countries and about 368 Student Chapters worldwide. SPE membership includes more than 68, 000 student members.
Our Mission is to collect, disseminate, exchange technical knowledge concerning the exploration, development and production of Oil and Gas resources and related technologies for public benefit to both Students and Professionals.
On top of the above, the SPE Makerere Student Chapter aims to develop professional awareness among members and other Students doing degrees that are relevant to the Oil and Gas sector. We promote social and academic interaction among Geosciences and Engineering and promote unity among all engineering disciplines in conjunction with Geosciences Students’ Societies.
As of now, what are some of the things that you have undertaken as an association to fulfill your objectives?
We have organized recruitment drives to enroll more student members. We have had collaborative projects with Makerere Engineering Society, held distinguished lectures from Petroleum Engineering Professionals, built models for study purposes, sensitized people, undertaken trips to attend conferences on Oil and Gas in leading Oil Companies across the globe, and we recently organized the Oil and Gas forum that took place at Protea Hotel.
Petroleum Geosciences and Production is relatively new in Uganda. Where did your lecturers come from?
Yes it is true it is a new course, however we have had the Geology Department for a longer time and since half of our curriculum as petroleum students consists of geology related course units, lecturers to handle that were available.
Now for the rest of the curriculum, we have had visiting lecturers of Petroleum Engineering from Oil Companies like Total, CNOOC, Tullow Oil Uganda and also government technocrats from the Directorate of Petroleum at the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development.
Can you sum up what Petroleum Students at MUK are taught for the entire course?
Throughout the course we study Petroleum Engineering, Drilling Engineering, Health and Safety, Reservoir Engineering, Geology, Drilling Fluids and Geo-Physics among others.
What are some of the challenges that you face as Petroleum Students?
There is inadequate exposure while undertaking the course mostly due to lack of instrumentation and equipment in laboratories. For instance we study quite a number of things that require hands on exposure and experience; however it is nearer to impossible to have an opportunity to learn with practice.
The software to work with is inadequate. Most of the data we deal with has to be worked on using licensed software that is only available in big Oil Companies abroad and rare to find here. There is also less communication from government concerning the Oil Sector.
Is this having an effect on your competitiveness?
Yes it is. There are few Petroleum Engineers that have studied in Uganda that can actually compete with the ones that have studied for example at Heriot Watt University. This is affecting us in that most of the operating companies are hiring expatriates to do the engineering work available.
We are not having enough practice to be in position to compete with the expatriates that are being brought into the country to do the engineering works in the Oil and Gas operations.
What advice do you have for government if we are to do better?
Government must beef up local capacity in the Oil and Gas Sector. All Oil and Gas Faculties at Universities and Institutes in Uganda should be furnished with efficient laboratories and enough equipment like Microscopes for Christolographical studies, Thin Sectioning Equipment, and Geo-Physical Equipment.
Also Oil and Gas Students should have enough study trips and be availed with the best Lecturers in the Petroleum Industry. The 6.5 billion barrels of Oil in place with about 1.5 billion barrels recoverable is good news to the economy of Uganda.
The revenues from the Oil industry will boost development in almost all the other sectors and this will place Uganda at a better chance of becoming a middle income country. The current Oil and Gas Regulations are good; they just need a lot more professional people to implement them in order to enable sustainable Management of Uganda’s Oil Resource.
From what we have studied, we have a lot to offer to our country in terms of building the Oil and Gas industry through proper regulations, good policy, good management to ensure that the Oil Resource is not misused in order to avoid the Oil Curse and above all ensuring that the Oil will benefit every Ugandan.
For the third year, Shell FuelSave recently launched a country wide promotion that will give consumers a chance to win free Shell FuelSave Unleaded petrol and Shell FuelSave Diesel for up to one year.
The promotion is intended to appreciate and reward customers for their loyalty and support in purchasing Shell branded fuels and lubricants.
How to enter the Fuel and Win Reloaded promotion:
Fuel with a minimum of 50,000/= shillings or more of Shell FuelSave at any Shell service station to receive your unique code coupon. Then simply dial short code *295#, select option 2 and enter the unique code on the coupon. You will receive a message notifying you of your successful entry into the promotion.
What is the cost of the SMS?
Each Short code entry will cost you UGX 220/-. NOTE: You can send a maximum of 2 codes in one SMS separated by a space and meeting the 140 character condition.
What if you’re not given a coupon?
You are entitled to one coupon for every 50,000/= shillings worth of Shell FuelSave. If you spend 100,000/= shillings for example, you will be entitled to two unique code coupons. You are required to enter all these codes into the short code.
How to redeem prize?
Once you receive a call from Vivo Energy 0312210010, prepare to collect/redeem your prize by verifying your identity. You should have the phone number that entered the promotion, a valid ID and the coupon to redeem your prize.
Fuel prize winners up to 300,000 will be awarded using unique fuel vouchers while fuel prize winners up to UGX 3,000,000 will be awarded using a Shell Card (prepaid) to redeem their prize / access free fuel.
What if my coupon is misplaced or damaged yet I have been notified as a winner, what happens?
In the event that your coupon is misplaced or damaged and you have been notified about being a winner, we shall use the mobile umber used to enter the promotion and other identification to confirm winners. Please call the toll free number 0800200400 or Vivo Energy’s telephone number +256312210010; available from 8:00am to 5:00 pm for further assistance.
Should I expect specific communication from a specified source if am a winner?
All winners will be notified by +256312210010. Do not respond to any other numbers that call you or send SMS to you. If you require confirmation on legitimacy of the calls, please call the toll free number 0800200400 or Vivo Energy’s telephone number +256312210010; available from 8:00am to 5:00 pm for further assistance.
Do I have to visit a specific Shell station to redeem my prize?
All monthly winners will specify their preferred Shell Station that they will redeem free fuel from. The grand draw winners can use their Shell Card to redeem fuel at any Shell Station countrywide.
Is there a deadline for claiming my prize?
Yes. All weekly prizes must be claimed 7 days after customer is contacted. Monthly & grand draw prizes after 30 days of contacting the customer.
Should I get a message that my coupon has already been used, what should I do?
In the event that a consumer sends a unique code that has already been used, the consumer will receive a message notification about the same. You should call the toll free number 0800200400 or Vivo Energy’s telephone number +256312210010; available from 8:00am to 5:00 pm for further assistance.
Supposing I just come up with a code and send, can you tell?
In the event that you compose a blank text message, guess code or you mistype the unique code on the coupon, you will receive a regret message saying “Unique code invalid. Please call +256 312210010 for clarification.”
The hotel business is central in the development of a tourism industry in any given country. It is even more important in developing countries like Uganda where foreign tourists think twice before deciding to board the plane. For hotels in a country like Uganda must be in a good shape, with good services and well marketed.
In Uganda, Jumia Travel, formerly Jovago, is doing the job of showcasing Ugandan hotels on the wide wild web as Louis Badea, Jumia Travel country manager explains in this exclusive Question and Answer interview recently conducted by Earthfinds Editor Baz Waiswa. Read on.
What do you really do as a business?
Basically I manage the operations of Jumia Travel in Uganda. We are the first online hotel booking website in Africa. Jumia Travel is a portal on which travelers, guests and customers can find and book hotels for accommodation and meetings.
You recently rebranded from Jovago to Jumia Travel, how is this going to accelerate your business deepening in Africa?
We used to be part of a group called Africa Internet Group (AIG), now called Jumia Group, which owns a number of websites includes Jovago now Jumia Travel, Hellofood now Jumia Food, Everjobs now Jumia Jobs, Kaymu now Jimia Market among others.
Jumia was the most famous brand especially in Kenya and Nigeria. So our management considered that since this Jumia venture was popular and appreciated by our customers, they saw that if we ran all the ventures under the Jumia name, we would get more visibility and traffic.
Therefore we joined our strength to grow. Of course we were worried a bit, it’s a big change, but the impact is really good, people are curious, our traffic has increased and now people know that they can get whatever they want in one place.
One month after you rebranded, how has the Uganda market reacting to the change of name?
In Uganda we are seeing an increase in traffic but at the same time we did it at the beginning of a high season, the business is good. We have seen increase in traffic and hotel bookings.
You have been in Uganda for a year now, how have you performed as compared to your business plan and projections?
We have performed quite well. When we came here we used to cover only a few parts of the country, now we have hotels everywhere in Uganda. We are in western Uganda - Kisoro, Kabale, all the national parks, Mbarara; central region – Kampala, Entebbe; eastern region - Malaba, Mbale and in the north.
We have done well in terms of improved hotel content on our website. When you visit the website, you will see good pictures and accurate information. We make sure that our prices are competitive. We have good diversity of hotels on our web portal.
All a customer has to do is to go on the website, select the destination you are going to, for example is its Gulu, you select Gulu, filter through the list of the hotels in Gulu according to amenities you are want then select the number of rooms and nights you will spend there. On this page, you make a choice of how you want to make the payment.
You can pay by credit card, Mobile Money or cash at the hotel. The hotel gives us the rates. We can advise them according to the season or start promotions to attract customers. On the Mobile App, hotels can update the prices and details of what they are offering.
What have been some of the challenges operating in Uganda so far?
The challenge, I would say in Uganda, especially in national parks, is that the lodges are expensive if you compare with other countries say South Africa. Here we still lack middle range affordable lodges. Sometimes we have cheap tents but it is hard to find lodges of $100 -&200. It is the same with hotels in Kampala, there are many good quality hotels but very expensive.
We sometime we have issues with internet to communicate. We wanted to book for a client in Juba but we couldn’t, six months ago we wanted to book in Bujumbura but the network had been cut off so we were not able to confirm the bookings. Political instability is a problem, if there is a war we cannot do business, this is a challenge but we keep our customers informed.
Sometime the hotels don’t have trained staff or they don’t communicate to their employees. We have signed contracts with hotels but when clients reach the hotels, the receptionists don’t receive them well because management has not informed them of our arrangement.
The other challenge is locating hotels. Many hotels are located in places with no plot numbers so finding them is a problem. Some cannot be tracked on GPS.
And the achievements?
Every month hotel booking are growing and we have grown the number of hotels on our website. We have also seen the number of reviews increase on the website which means people are appreciating our services.
We have been able to give visibility to hotels in Uganda. 60 percent (about 400 hotels) of hotels on our web portal are marketing online for the first time. We give them that chance to get business and visibility on our website. This is good achievement for us.
Uganda is taking a giant step marketing itself as a top tourism destination, as a stakeholder, what are you willing to contribute to this cause?
Uganda is less popular than Kenya and Tanzania when it comes to tourism mostly due to lack of visibility. Most people outside Africa think Amin Dada is still here, this is because Uganda doesn’t market herself enough. We try to market Uganda – tell the world that Uganda is safe and cheap.
We try to tell the world that travelling to Uganda is possible. We connect travelers from all over the world to hotels in Uganda. For example a traveler from Tokyo can find a hotel in Uganda before coming down here at competitive rates. We make sure hotels in Uganda get visibility from all over the world.
How many Ugandan hotels have you listed on your web portal?
It should be about 800 hotels – 200 hotels in Kampala. We register new hotels all the time. For hotels to be on our platform they need to have two ways of payment – pre-payment and post payment – meaning people can pay using credit cards or Mobile Money or book and pay at the hotel. Most of the guests book online and pay at the hotel.
Other amenities that customers consider when booking are WIFI (37%), swimming pool (26%), bed and breakfast (17%, AC (15%) and transport (5%). If the hotel doesn’t provide these services then there is quite a problem. Booking by star hotel rating stands at 1 star hotels (3%), 2 star hotels (31%), 3 star hotels (46%), 4 star hotels (17%) and 5 Star hotels (7%).
As an institution that deals with hotels, what is your earnest comment on the quality and seriousness of Ugandan hotels?
I think they are good; the lodges are good but expensive, then if we look at Kampala, very many good hotels are coming up. We also have hotels that lack renovation. Sometimes there is lack of customer services training but I know Uganda Hotel Owners Association is working on it. Sometime the hotel staff is not well trained.
Where do these hotels need to improve?
They should make sure the operations manager is good. They should train people. Sometimes when you go to TripAdvisor you find hotels with bad reviews but their managers have not bothered to respond. It also happens even on our website, it is important to check reviews and respond.
If I am the manager, I make sure I check all the reviews and train my staff to ensure that whatever made the customer to complain doesn’t happen again. When you have good services, you get good reviews and ranking improves.
What do travelers look out for in a hotel? What are their expectations?
It is mainly WIFI, swimming pool, good food, good staff and good value for what they are going to pay. So the prices you put must match with what you are offering. Hotels sometimes think that all expatriates earn $10, 000, so they think all Mzungu can pay $600 for a room.
Hotels should have affordable prices. Not all tourists can afford to pay for a $500 a night. Hotels should pay attention to customer demands, what is happening in the market to stay competitive.
What type of travelers’ book for hotels in Uganda on your website?
50% of bookings are made from inside Uganda then from Kenya. So it is Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Nigeria, UK and US. We get lots of people from Kenya. We don’t ask for nationalities but we can only trace IP addresses. They are usually business travelers.
What are you planes for the coming years, what should Uganda expect from Jumia Travel?
We are going to start offline marketing, go out and meet people in the streets, sponsor events and sign up hotels. We will continue offering better services and improve our Mobile App to enable hotel owners manage their content better. We have a partnership with Uganda Hotel Owners to do training. We will handle topics like marketing and customer care.
Uganda is ambitiously fast tracking her tourism potential to make a quick buck from foreign and local tourists eager to discover the East African country. In this optimistic quest for tourism glory, the country will need partners who understand and are willing to push the agenda.
Some of the most crucial partners that are central in realizing this target are the hoteliers running a successful hospitality industry operating at an international level. Without a proper and a top notch hospitality players tourism adventures will only hit a dead end.
In this interview, Jean – Philippe Bittencourt, the General Manager of Sheraton Kampala Hotel explains to Baz Waiswa, the editor, Earthfinds, the role the five star hotel is playing in advancing the country’s tourism agenda, what the hospitality industry must do and the potential of Uganda’s tourism.
You joined Sheraton Kampala Hotel in January, describe you experience working at the hotel in the last five months?
We are meeting people, entities and getting more familiar with the strategies of the country in terms of tourism even though because of elections things are a little bit on standby. Now that elections are over, I hope that things that must be done to promote tourism will be done.
We all agree that Uganda needs a lot of exposure, promotion and presence at key events like international exhibitions. We need to create an image for Uganda that differentiates it from neighboring countries and that represents an added value, a different experience that the tourists are looking for.
This focus should be directed in the area of events. Events help filling up that gap. Kampala should be able to host international events. These events are fixed sometimes a year earlier therefore we should have a package that is attractive for the organizer to come to this destination.
A lot of things must be done in between us in the hotel business. We are working tightly together because when we are talking about big events, conventions, everybody benefits.
Infrastructure is a big challenge, especially the roads; access to Entebbe - Kampala is a need that must be resolved as soon as possible. When I hear about 2018, I think it is too long and we in the hotel hear people complain about that road. They also complain about the traffic in town but mainly the road to the airport because losing a flight is a challenge for the traveler especially for people with tight agendas.
Training is another area we need professionals. We need specialized institutions to train people to work in all the hotels opening up in the country. Today it is the hotels full filling this role. It’s time to have a reliable institution with good back up probably a partnership with an international educational institute that can give support and prepare the trainers.
A hotel employees people in different areas from finance to kitchen, waiters, chambermaids, human resources, IT among others. We need specialized people who can understand the complexity of a hotel.
What sort of experience do you bring to Sheraton Kampala Hotel considering that the hotel industry is still young and yearning to learn a thing or two from the industry ‘big boys’?
I have more than 30 years of experience gained while working for different international brands. I work for Sheraton today but I have worked with other international brands so I have good knowledge of different approaches to benefit a hotel.
I have worked in different continents so I am familiar with different cultures and I have capacity to easily adapt and understand new environments. I have opened new hotels, refurbished hotels. One of my missions here is to carry out the renovation project of Sheraton Kampala Hotel. It requires a good understanding of how to manage projects.
One of my key factors is that I am very human oriented, I tend to understand and mingle with people easily, socialize and become familiar with the environment easily. Uganda has good people. When you come to Uganda, you immediately feel that you want to stay here for long. So I hope I can bring something for the long term, not only to Sheraton but to Uganda.
What has been your experience working with hoteliers in Uganda especially those outside Sheraton?
Well there are very good competitors not only hotels but there are plenty of restaurants opening especially in Kampala with well-trained people. That is interesting to see. I have been meeting different either hotel owners or managers because I am part of Uganda Hotel Owners Association.
I am the chairman of Kampala Chapter so I have been talking with authorities like Uganda Tourism Board or the ministry of tourism about these action plans and strategies on how to make sure the tourism figures increase.
There are four priority areas that must be taken care of as everybody agreed. These are promotion and market, taxes (especially airport tax which is too high at $100), training staff and of course infrastructure. Apart from airport tax, the amount of tax hotel owners pay is high but we have requested the authorities to look into it.
Uganda is positioning itself as a key tourism destination to the world, as a five star hotel and stakeholder in the tourism sector how are you planning to aid this effort?
We try to respond positively to any initiative as suggested by the tourism board. We participate with them in different international trade shows. We have an agenda as Starwood, we try to visit neighboring countries especially Kenya where we get very many clients coming from there. We also look for new markets - we are looking at China.
We have been participating in those big international trade shows with a focus on tourism like ITB Berlin Tourism Expo. We try to be present at different channels where we can create visibility. We believe in online business so we try to be reactive and present on social media. We try to make things lively by responding.
From your experience as a hotel manager what do travelers/tourists look for in a hotel before they make their booking decision?
The world we are living in is a turbulent world especially when it comes to safety and security. So that became extremely important in any type of hotel. Hotels with an international brand are a target so at Sheraton we became much more conscious of that.
We have invested a lot of money in ensuring that there is reinforcement, training, and all sorts of process and procedure to make sure the guests feel secure when they are here.
People are looking and demanding for technology. You might be on holiday but you want to keep in touch with your emails, friends, family or office. Today it is very difficult to detach yourself from a professional life and personal life even when you are in a moment of leisure.
Then of course the comfort - from the type of room, the facilities you find in a hotel room. The guest room is not only a place to sleep but where people can get entertainment. Some people work in their rooms. Some spend a lot of time in the rooms watching movies. All these must be there.
The hotel must provide a good experience in terms of food and beverages. People like to discover different fusion of cuisines. When they come to Uganda, they want Ugandan food, then another day they want to try Italian food, so we must have all these different options.
When we talk about food it must be health. People are conscious about their health, their shape, so you need to have these health menus. Then there is food restrictions, people have allergies for certain products.
Some religions don’t eat certain foods so when making a menu you should be in consideration of all these issues. Like at the moment, we are in Ramadan, we must have an iftar, which is the break of fast, it is much appreciated by our Muslim clients. We have a specific place for prayers so they know we care about them. We are also looking at our clients from China, South Korea. We need to customize some of our services.
Tourists when want to see nice people, beautiful girls or guys well dressed. They want nice music, good selection of wines and beers.
One of the challenges hotels in Uganda face is a lack of experienced workforce. What has been your observation regarding this trend and what is Sheraton doing to build capacity for local hotel employees?
Uganda have very good people here but they need right institutions to prepare them. Kenya kick started their tourism industry so many years ago, it was the first destination in this region for tourism, today you have new markets, new options, Tanzania and Rwanda.
The people here in Uganda are naturally welcoming, they have a beautiful smile, they just need to learn through training and practice. Exposure is very important, so I strongly recommend to young people here, if they have a chance to go out of the country to do so.
They will come back with a different background and perception. If someone has not seen anything other than what he or she is used too then it is difficult to know what an international traveler expects. Everyone has different expectations
The hotel business requires a certain set of standards, what can upcoming hotels do to stay afloat, what can they learn from Sheraton?
They must invest in professionals who can run the business. It is important to have professionals that know what the business is about. Sometimes the problem with independent hotels is that the owner is from real estate background, his perception of a hotel is of a client, he needs a professional to run the business.
Sheraton is known as a high-end hotel occasioned mostly by foreigners, how would you describe the archetypical Sheraton Kampala client?
Our customers are international travelers, people who are doing business or leisure, they are well connected, so they know what they want. They are demanding, demanding of all those services that are now a necessity today. If internet was not working, they would get mad and crazy with us because to them it is like water, they don’t take it for granted. Wherever they go they find it.
And lastly, why should someone visiting Uganda for the first time stay at Sheraton? Warm regards,
We are an international brand. Almost 80 years of existence. Then the security of the site, we are considered to be one of the safest place in town and the service that we provide, our facilities and everything that a customer will find here, says Sheraton is the best property in town.
We have our 50th anniversary in 2017, so we are trying to work on the agenda of celebration. 2017 will be a great year for us. We are moving on with the project of renovating the building, the rooms, invest in infrastructures which are necessary.
We are making sure that we are part of big local events like the Kampala Restaurant Week. We are also trying to be innovative and bring new offers. We are proud being part of this history, being in Kampalanfor so many years. We are honored to be the first international hotel in Uganda.
We should be prepared for competition, they are very many hotels and restaurants coming up but we have a loyal clientele that feels comfortable here because they are well known and recognized. They feel like they are home.
A lot of guests don’t come here for just one night, sometimes they stay for weeks, months, so they have their own preferred rooms, chambermaids, and waiters to take care of their needs. This kind of tailor made service is important.
I have met guests who have come here since 1992, it’s amazing to hear that. Other hotels have opened but they prefer to come here. Some people have their important events here. There are marrying here, they got married here and their children are getting married here.
I met a client who wanted to celebrate their 40th anniversary in the same room they had their honeymoon. People are attached to this hotel because it part of their history. So we must preserve that.
By his own words, Keith Mugabi never intended to come to Victoria University and contest for guild presidency. However the desire grew when he saw that the University needed people like him to serve in different capacities. He choose to go for guild presidency and lead students.
In this interview he explains how satisfying it has been for him at the helm of student leadership. He also mentions the challenges and achievements he has been able to register three months after being elected guild president in December, 2015. Read the full interview below.
Briefly tell our readers why of all Universities in Uganda you chose to join Victoria University?
The reason I joined Victoria University is because it offered me what I wanted in a university. All the schools I went to, are not upscale, but they offered me quality education. I believe Victoria University has the right facilities, environment and education that I wanted. I believe Victoria University has a lot to offer. As a beginning learning institution, it has its ups and downs but we are trying to build the gap together with administration.
As guild president, what is your typical day like at campus?
Every day my day starts at 6:30am when I wake up to get ready for the day. I say a prayer because we are a strong Christian born again family. I am at campus by 8am and leave campus at about 8pm after doing course works, research and other study related activities. The university offers a good learning environment, I have two lectures a day and I give my education about 22 hours a week. I keep in mind that I am still a student and that I am at university to study.
Why did you join the guild race at Victoria University?
I wanted to serve this Victoria University, I have always wanted to serve people. I felt I could do a good job at. I felt the guild needed some sort of ground work because they were running without a constitution. I felt that was one of the major things we needed as a guild.
We needed to bridge the gap between students and administration. The constitution has been drafted and waiting for approval. I didn’t stand for guild president because of political reasons or ambitions but I felt I had to offer myself to lead this institution, mold the guild office because it’s a vital of the university.
How has it been in last few months you have guild president?
The last months have not been hectic as I thought it would be. I majorly put my effort on my core things that I what I really wanted to achieve as guild president, the administration has been helpful so it has toned down my work. And then having a team you can work with has been helpful because without a team your efforts are going to be fruitless.
There hasn’t been many challenges that I can attest too and frustrated me but of course there are small ups and downs. The students expect a lot from the guild. It being a new university they expect a lot of entertainment, having fun, it’s a challenge to organize all those events without depleting the guild fund. Having a small guild fund has been a bit of a challenge but you have to work out a way to satisfy students. We try to live within our means.
On the side of achievements; we have drafted the constitution – having the draft alone is an achievement. We are going to have a cafeteria at campus that help student get a few snacks at the university campus.
How did becoming a guild president change your life?
Being guild president has opened my eyes to new things; number one – leadership – I have always seen leaders and judged them for the decisions they have made but being guild president has opened my eyes not to make decisions on only feelings but also fact and considering other people. I have met people who I can change my life. I feel the joy that I have been to serve as guild president.
What do you like about your job as guild?
The beauty that I can listen to different voices of students and pick out what they want, what they feel the campus should be and take it to administration, I feel it is a landmark. I feel serving Victoria University as guild president has left a landmark in my life that I will never forget. It has given me the opportunity to make friends.
Should we expect you to go for political officer say for MP?
As of now I am trying to find my footing in this world. I am not an old man, I am still young. Yes I have dreams but I have never thought of serving in a higher officer say as a Member of Parliament but being guild president has been a stepping stone in my life. I can’t say if I will stand for those big officers in the future but don’t surprised if an opportunity comes and I take it.
What makes you stand out as a leader?
Well for starters – I think my passion to serve people is what makes me stand out. Many people look at these leadership positions in terms of finances, what will I gain from it but I want to serve this university. Those other things that come with this office are extras. I am also God fearing, a friend to all.
Victoria University, one of the leading private universities in Uganda, has reiterated its commitment to train medical workers as Dr. Patience M. Arinaitwe, the Dean Faculty of Health Sciences Victoria University, explains in this interview.
What subjects would you advise young Students to pursue at A’levels in order for them to pursue courses under your Faculty of Health Sciences?
Mainly PCB for Clinical Science programmes (BNS, BMS and possibly Nutrition and Dietetics), All subjects including Arts but with some Biology for Public Health
What types of degrees and certificates are available in your Faculty of Health Sciences?
Currently BNS, BMS,BND, BPH (Degrees); There’s an upgrade for Midwifery Science for diploma holders; For Certificates we have Short Course in Public Health (SCIPH) and others.
What is the relationship between Bachelor of Nursing Science & Bachelor of Midwifery Science? What are the entry requirements?
Bachelor of Nursing Sciences (BNS) is a 4 Year Programme. BNS curriculum is designed to meet the challenges of healthcare delivery. The course is highly demanding and designed to use community-orientated, evidence and skills-based approaches in order to be highly responsive to the needs of urban and rural communities.
BNS Entry Requirements are: Uganda Advanced Certificate of Education or its equivalent and 2 principal passes obtained at the same sitting in Physics, Chemistry or Biology or Diploma in Nursing from a recognised Institution and must be certified by the Uganda Nurses & Midwives Council (UNMC).
Bachelor of Midwifery Science is a 2 Year Top up Program. The post-diploma midwifery science top-up degree program is designed to enhance the student’s ability to use community–oriented, evidence-based approaches in the provision of midwifery care that is responsive to the needs of the community in both rural and urban settings.
The Bachelor of Midwifery Science program will cover two academic years, which is a five (5) semesters degree course.This program will be implemented using a variety of teaching and learning modes that encourage active and student centred learning to ensure that the graduates become life-long self–directed learners to be able to meet the challenges in healthcare delivery.
Is your Faculty of Health Sciences going to be part of your future VU School of Medicine? What’s the distinction?
Yes it and will infact be the home of the Medical School; health sciences and especially the clinical parts are complementary – e.g. nurses and midwives (BNS and BMS respectively) work with doctors on a daily basis to provide healthcare – Medicine will just be an addition to the menu of courses in the Faculty and not necessarily a separate one.
What types of service opportunities does your Faculty of Health Sciences render to your current Students and Graduates?
Apart from the excellent student-teacher interaction (remember VU has has the best ratio in Uganda so teachers really know their students!) we offer career guidance, arrange internships and field placements.
We emphasise the community linkage whereby our students are supported to design real-life projects offering solutions to community health problems. Furthermore we organize exposure events for the students e.g. attending scientific conference for learning, presenting their work and networking among others.
What courses can be done part-time?
All courses have a provision for flexibility if the student numbers and other administrative factors are favourable. In the future we plan to offer some Health Science courses via distance or online.
Do you consider Credit transfer from say a certain University to VU?
We do, there’s a system called Accreditation of Previous/ Experiential Learning (APEL) whereby a student applies to be exempt from a course unit or module they think has already been covered elsewhere.
When we receive this application we do carefully look for similarity in content (especially related to curriculum but also teaching/learning methods used) as well as student performance. If satisfied then the student can be exempt; it is on a case-by-case basis and the student has to formally initiate the process by filing an APEL application to the Dean.
How does one apply for a course /program in your Faculty of Health Sciences?
Simply fill out the application form (there’s a provision for this online on the VU website), attach the required documents and submit to registry or admissions at VU. Also applicants can just walk into the university with their academic documents and our supportive Admissions team can work with them to submit an application the same day!
What are the application deadline dates and who can one contact for advising on Health Science Courses?
For details about Faculty of Health Sciences and other courses visit the University’s website at www.vu.ac.ug.
Buganda Land Board recently launched a campaign aimed at registering all Title-holders on Kabaka’s land in a bid to regularize their tenancy. Buganda Land Board Head of Legal Ndawula Barnabas in this interview explains the motives of the campaign.
Please tell us what the campaign is all about the wetuukire campaign you launched recently.
Wetuukire’ is a campaign that is calling upon all persons currently in possession of land titles on Kabaka’s land, which were formerly issued by Uganda Land Commission and District Land Boards to regularize their tenancy with Buganda Land Board. The campaign is scheduled to start on March 1st and will end on April 30th 2016.
What do you exactly mean by Kabaka’s land and what areas does it cover?
Kabaka’s land refers to all that land vested in the Kabaka of Buganda by virtue of his office and held in custody for the people of Buganda. Kabaka’s land includes:
The Kings official estate ‘Olusuku lwa Ssabasajja’ measuring 350 square miles covering the counties of Kyadondo, Busiiro, Kyagwe, including such areas as Munyonyo and Makindye and Buziga.
It also covers all land that was managed and controlled by the Buganda Land Board as a creature of the 1962 constitution of Uganda, which entails urban and peri-urban areas of municipalities and towns in Buganda kingdom
It also includes the Sazza and Gomboloola estates measuring 8 square miles and 49 acres respectively found in all districts of Buganda covering some parts of Mukono, Wakiso and Kampala and different areas within rural/up country districts in Buganda region.
How is it that persons were able to obtain titles on Kabaka’s land in the first place?Individuals did get hold of titles on Kabaka’s land especially lease titles by way of interests created by Uganda Land Commission and the District Land Boards.
Wasn’t the issuance of such titles by Uganda Land Commission and District Land Boards legally binding?
In light of the prevailing circumstances at the time, one may say that technically it was legal because it was state sanctioned. The Central Government under the Obote-I Republican constitution of 1967 confiscated Buganda Kingdom assets, of which land was the largest.
The 1967 constitution also created the Uganda Land Commission which was given the mandate to manage all public land, of which the confiscated Buganda Kingdom land was among.
This was further escalated by the 1975 Land Decree which declared all land to be public land and vested the same in the State to be held in trust for the people of Uganda and to be administered by the Uganda Land Commission. Further still, in 1998 District Land Boards were created and given further mandate to manage land within their respective districts.
If the titles were legal then, what is the rationale behindBuganda Land Board’s regularization of tenancy on the same land now?
Buganda Land Board is regularizing tenancy on the land becausethe land was officially handed back to Kabaka’s Government. In 1993, the Government of Uganda through the Traditional Rulers Restitution of Assets and Properties Act Cap 247 entered various legally binding agreements with Buganda Kingdom culminating into a memorandum of understanding between themselves in 2013 under which various land titles and properties were officially returned to the Kabaka.
Are there any repercussions that can affect tenants who haven’t had their titles validated by BLB?
Yes,it is vital for title holders to have their titles validated because Buganda Land Board is now the controlling authority of the land. As the authority, Buganda Land Board needs to know the tenants currently residing on the land. Once BLB has the knowledge of the tenancy and has authenticated the tenancy, the title holder will enjoy security of tenure guaranteed by BLB.
In addition, financial institutions and Commercial Banks are now accepting only those land titles on Kabaka’s land that have been validated by Buganda Land Board. Furthermore, all transactions to include the sale, exchange or donation of land with titles on Kabaka’s land are now rendered invalid by law, if not consented to by Buganda Land Board.
Does this mean that Buganda Land Board wants to evict tenants off Kabaka’s land through the Wetuukire campaign?
‘Wetuukire’ campaign is an initiative by Buganda Land Board to ensure that all tenants on Kabaka’s land enjoy peaceful and economically sustainable use of the land they occupy. Buganda Land Board is therefore not chasing anyone off Kabaka’s land.
We are simply acting within our mandate and calling upon all tenants on Kabaka’s land that received land titles issued by Uganda Land Commission and District Land Boards to come and regularize their land titles with Buganda Kingdom, this is both free hold and Lease titles.
In brief, are you saying that one cannot buy /sell or mortgage this land in a legally binding manner unless and until the same has been validated by BLB?
The simple answer to that is YES! It is therefore entirely to the benefit of the title holder to heed to our call to have their land title regularized at this point to avoid inconveniences in the future. All those that don’t comply will handled within the existing law.
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.