Victoria University Sign Digital Health Diagnostic Software MoU With Swedish Firm

The use of technology to offer healthcare is proving to be a necessity especially in developing countries like Uganda where there is usually a shortage of health workers. To meet this need, innovators are coming up with the right tools each day.

One such tool is AITOPYA, a computer based software powered by artificial intelligence, that helps health workers and patients find solutions to illness and probable diagnosis. AITOPYA is a product of Swedish firm Byon8.

Last week, Victoria University, Byon8 and One World Health (OWH) medical center in Masindi, signed a Memorandum of Understanding to implement and evaluate the efficiency of the Artificial Intelligent (AI) Diagnostic Support platform (AITOPYA) in a Ugandan context.

The MoU facilitates the implementation of a one year pilot project at three OWH clinics in Masindi. The dean faculty of health sciences at Victoria University, Professor Stephen Lawoko, said during this time the applicability, feasibility, effectiveness and efficiency of AITOPYA will be tested.

Victoria University research team will lead the work of evaluating the use of an AI digital tool for increasing efficiency and improving quality of care while Byon8 will install the needed AITOPYA hard and software at the clinics and train staff at the clinics. The purpose of training is to teach health workers how to use the platform in the most efficient way.  

One World Health medical center in Masindi offers a full scope of healthcare services to the community, delivered by trained nationals. Prof. Lawoko said over 2000 members of community are helped by the center.

“Victoria University will spearhead the research component of this project. Researchers from the faculty of health sciences and some from outside Uganda will join us in carrying out this research with the aim of collecting data, analyze this data and publish it in our peer review journals.” Prof Lawoko said at the signing of the MoU which happened at Victoria University.

Josef Murad, the CEO of Byon8, said they were driven by motivation and purpose when designing AITOPYA. He said AITOPYA is a software for professionals and for patients. “They can use the software to input patient data from anywhere they are, for example at home,”

“The software will use this information to calculate the most probable diagnosis. It can also enable remote consultations via video chats. It also gives health professionals a chance to follow up on patients remotely. They don’t have to actually go to where the patient is.

“It also works as a health resource that gives patients recommendations 24/7, for example what they should eat and this prevents diseases. It automates documentation and administration.’ Murad said shortly before signing the MoU in Kampala.

Victoria University Rolls Out MBA Program

Victoria University has rolled out its first ever masters degree program, Master of Business Administration (MBA), this semester. The MBA falls under the faculty of business and management and will be a two year course.

Speaking to Earthfinds, the dean faculty of business and management at Victoria University, Dr. Omotayo Adegbuyi said they have been cleared by Uganda National Council for Higher Education, the government agency that regulates the education sector in the country.

Prof. Adegbuyi said is an open professional course which admits anybody who wants to improve their business acumen. It has been divided into four semesters, the fourth being reserved for research, internship and compiling dissertation.  

“It is a practical course which helps you apply what has been taught to you. It can help you get promoted through the ranks to the top, the CEO. It enhances your performance at you workplace,” Prof Adegbuyi.

Under the MBA, students will be studying finance, marketing, management, research methods, human resource, planning and development, quality and systems, international business, consultancy, decision making, entrepreneurship and information among other topics.

Victoria University has four faculties - faculty of health sciences; business and management; science and technology and humanities and social sciences. Under these faculties a number of degree, diploma and certificates are taught.

 

 

Why You Should Enroll Your Child At KISU

Kampala International School Uganda (KISU) opened its door to teach Ugandan children in 1993, at its Bukoto campus. It has since grown to be the leading international school in Uganda.

KISU provides a broad, balanced curriculum based upon the National Curriculum for England, IGCSEs (Cambridge) and the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme, adapted to reflect the international nature of the school’s community and its location in Uganda.

KISU, located at Plot No. 447, Block 213, Old Kira Road, Bukoto, Kampala, Uganda boosts of State-of-the-art facilities including four science labs, three computer labs, three music rooms, three performance areas, an indoor gym, outdoor basketball court, 25 metre eight lane competition swimming pool, two libraries, smart boards in most classrooms and a five acre playing field.

Students participate in an extensive range of extracurricular activities including outdoor education and overseas trips, to diverse destinations such as The UK, France, Italy, Mount Kilimanjaro and a yearly ski trip in Europe. The holistic education also fosters involvement in community building activities..

Through its Early Years Programme, Primary Programme, Secondary Programme and IB Programme, KISU promote high standards across the curriculum in an environment where good quality teaching and learning take place and support each child in achieving their full potential.

The school recognises, respects and celebrates the multicultural and international diversity of our school community. It encourages active, creative and independent learners who take pride in all that they do by providing a safe, welcoming, secure and stimulating environment in which positive self-esteem, acceptance and understanding are promoted.

KISU’s bespoke curriculum model has been carefully designed to offer seamless progression across the whole age range, be relevant to social, cultural and geographical context, suit the needs of students as learners, take account of the needs of families who are often moving on to new international contexts after three or four years and to incorporate the pedagogical values, principles and approaches that we as educationalists believe in and know to result in learning that is deep, lasting and transferable.

KISU is fully accredited by CIS and are also an IBO “World School”. KISU has a very strong record for academic achievement with results for the IB Diploma that are consistently and significantly above the world average.

KISU sends students to the best universities around the world (predominantly in the UK, US and Canada).

Victoria University, NFT Consult Sign MoU To Prepare Students

A Memorandum of Understanding was signed between Victoria University and NFT Consult on Friday presenting an opportunity to students at the University students to start a firm well nurtured career in Human Resource Management.

This MoU signing event was witnessed by the Human Resource Managers Association of Uganda represented by the Secretary General Mr Ajal Joseph. Victoria University Vice Chancellor Dr Krishna N Sharma and the General Manager of NFT Consult Ms Annet Kijjagulwe signed for their respective institutions.

Prior to the signing, the Dean of Humanities Mr Kasirye Fred identified the need to bridge the gap between the academia and the practitioners thus such partnerships. Dr Sharma identified the need for student centered teaching and learning if tomorrows unknown opportunities have to be harnessed.

The MoU is aimed at offering unpaid internship placement at NFT Consult for students enrolled for the HRM Degree course, engaging professionals in curriculum development to enrich university programmes, partner for Corporate Social Responsibility programmes and build capacity of HR in the land and beyond (offering both academic and non-academic training)

Ms Kijjagulwe asserted NFT readiness to be a key player in building the skill set to embrace the employers’ demands, today and tomorrow building on the efforts made by the lecturers at the University.

She tasked the guests present to always yearn to be better and offer quality to their employers and as gesture to improve the quality of the country’ Human resources by simple gestures such as time management, team appreciation, quality communication among others.

She challenged the students that would benefit from this partnership to always launch deep if they have to make significant contributions in all they do.  
As witness to the signing of the MoU, the General Secretary of the Human Resource managers Association of Uganda, Mr Ajal Joseph reiterated the need to train for the future. He alluded to the fact that the internet having created a disruptive environment, and that only the ready would harness the future job market.

Victoria University is home to four faculties- Humanities and Social Sciences, Business and management, Health Sciences and also the Faculty of Science and Technology. Through all these faculties the University presents a total 360 degrees training for its learners and thus identifies industry partners with which to ensure total teaching and learning.

Oil Is Here, So Is Climate Change: What Do We Do About Them? 

By Michael Businge

Peter Ekai Lokoel, Deputy Governor Turkana in September 2014 said, “Climate Change is here with us. We cannot stop it. The only way is to see how to work around it.”

Over the past century, the average annual temperature on earth has increased, the oceans have warmed, snow and ice caps have diminished, and the sea levels have risen. Although evidence of climate change, and its causes, has been debated for more than two decades, there is now scientific consensus that climate change is occurring and is mainly due to human activity.

Climate change is being felt in countries throughout the world, from low-lying countries such as Bangladesh and Maldives, to temperate countries in the northern hemisphere, to countries in the tropics, including my own country, Uganda.

Climate scientists have attributed both the increasing frequency of specific extreme weather events (such as drought, flooding and heat shocks) and the slow but steady change in long term features of the environment (such as receding glaciers) to rising temperature caused predominantly by anthropogenic (i.e. human) sources. They predict that these, and other, observed climate changes will become more severe in coming years.

These changes in the climate are imposing an increasing burden on governments, especially in countries with limited resources, in their efforts to protect vulnerable populations. Changing precipitation patterns such as drought, and shorter but intense rainfall, can have negative direct impacts on health and contribute to desertification, flooding, low food production, food insecurity, migration and increased conflict, water scarcity.

Most of this is happening in Uganda. In 2016, storms that hit the western District of Buliisa left over 20 people dead and more than 50 missing. Property was destroyed and children resorted to studying under trees since class room blocks were destroyed due to the storm.

Indigenous populations, poor and socially marginalized individuals, women and people with disabilities are often most affected. Hoima District is no different from her neighbor, Buliisa. The crop yield, unbearable hot and conditions have been experienced over time, water levels in some areas has gone down, and animals have starved to death in some areas around Lake Albert basin. Climate change is posing particular risks to the rights to life, food, access to clean water, and health to vulnerable communities. 

It is now 10 years since commercial oil deposits were discovered in Uganda. One thing to note is that Hoima and Buliisa host oil wells. In fact, Buliisa District alone has got over 60 oil wells which were discovered near and around settlements, national park and in the game reserve but also along the shores of Lake Albert. These are ecologically sensitive areas with all unique species of flora and fauna.

It is a fact that oil activities impact nature, people and climate. Oil activities disrupt important ecosystems, endanger species of fauna and flora and degrade the quality of environment in some dimension. These range from aesthetic considerations to the massive toxic wastes generated through process water, drilling mud, and a myriad of other chemicals in the industry.

We are right now at a development phase where currently Uganda is undergoing significant developments in the exploitation of the oil resource. The transition of the country’s oil and gas sector from exploration and appraisal phase to the development phase means that Government and the Oil companies are in the process of putting in place infrastructure to enable production of the discovered oil resource. 

Major infrastructural developments such as the East African Crude Oil Pipeline, the Central Processing Facilities in Tilenga and Kingfisher, the Kabaale International Airport, feeder pipelines, critical oil roads and other sector related developments have posed changes in community set ups, raised some red flags in some areas and possible ecological footprint.

How then do we balance development, nature conservation or adopt and maybe mitigate climate change? How do we safeguard forests, fresh water bodies from destruction, maintain soil quality in areas where there is oil activities?

Countries with tropical or subtropical climates, including Uganda are projected to experience the effects of climate change most intensely, and low income countries are least able to prevent and prepare for the impact of climate change.

It has also been noted that 80% of Uganda’s population depends primarily on biomass to meet their household energy needs, and this has led to massive destruction of the forest  cover thus leading to occurrence of hazardous air pollutants in the atmosphere due to absence of forest cover which acts as carbon sinks. 

Indigenous people in Buliisa and Hoima who traditionally rely on natural sources for food, shelter and livelihood lack better infrastructure such as good roads, health centres and in cases of an eventuality, it makes it difficult to reach health centres in time for first aid or any kind of treatment. This creates a risk on people’s health yet the country’s health care system is already strained!

What then can we do? As Ugandans, we need to recognize that the changes in climate will likely impede the country’s ability to realize sustainable development. 

  • Local Governments should be empowered to mobilize, sensitize and support communities to participate in the planning and agreeing on the best climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies.
  • We therefore need to build the capacity of local people to mitigate and adopt to climate change, a phenomenon that is with us!
  • Communities also need to come out and selfishly denounce activities that put environmental integrity to disrepute and then proactively engage in environmental conservation practices and management.
  • Implement laws, policies and regulations on regarding environment management. The environmental monitoring plans on Oil, Gas need the participation of the local people since they are interact with the environment in their areas on a day to day basis.
  • There is need to assess the impact so far caused by climate change and identify individuals and communities that are most vulnerable, and then taking steps to reduce on the vulnerability.
  • For development projects, environmental standards should be followed during project implementation.
  • Government needs to do more to monitor oil activities, design strategies and incorporate these strategies in order to reduce ecological footprint.
  • Government needs to ensure meaningful participation and put out relevant information about climate change so as informed decisions can be taken on climate change from the local to the national levels.
  • Local Governments at District levels need to develop climate change adaptation and mitigation plans which are in accordance to the national Adaptation plans. And partnerships at the District and national levels needs to be enhanced for possible collaboration and funding on mitigation and adaptation measures for climate change.
  • We need to improve on water harvesting capacity, efficient and sustainable use of water resources, practice good soil and water conservation strategies especially for the farmers.
  • Embark on massive indigenous tree planting.

Environment is life! There is no more time left, we need to act together now to mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change but also harness the oil resource for sustainable development of our communities. 

The writer is a coordinator of a CSO Network in Bunyoro working on issues of Petroleum and Environment

 

OIL ECONOMY: How Can Uganda Benefit From Its Forth Coming Oil Boom?

By Magara Siragi Luyima 

After the initial exploration of oil and gas that ended in 2014, with a confirmed commercial discovery estimated at 6.5 billion barrels of oil, of which 1.4 billion are recoverable,Ugandan government has embarked on the development phase and has finalized plans to invest $800m (about UGX2.9 trillion) in the 1,445 kilometres long East African Crude oil pipeline (EACOP) and refinery projects which will guarantee realization of first oil in 2020 at the earliest after their completion.

According to the New Vision newspaper dated Monday 27, 2017 ,page 3, the government of Uganda plans to invest $500m into the refinery project (40% share) and $300m in the EACOP (15% share). The main funders of the projects will be the international oil companies such as Total and CNOOC as well Tanzania government. All these activities are a pre-cursor to oil production likely to start in 2020-2021.

Significant amounts of revenues and taxes are generated at all stages of the petroleum value-chain and these include signature bonuses, royalties, exploration fees, development fees, rents, fees on permits, Capital Gains Tax (CGT) on transfer of interests and assets, government’s profit share on production, and revenues and taxes at the refining, gas processing and conversion, transportation and storage of petroleum and its associated products, bi-products and wastes.

Additional taxes to these revenue streams include income tax, With Holding Tax (WHT), Pay As You Earn (PAYE), Value Added Tax (VAT), Import Duty, Stamp Duty, Service Tax, among others. It is thus anticipated that Uganda will generate about US$3-3.5 billion annually at peak production (2029-2045) and research has indicated that Uganda’s GDP will have doubled by 2025. Indeed, World Bank estimates that oil production could increase total government revenue from the current 13% of GDP to about 18% on average for more than 20 years.

However, with doubling of the size of the economy (GDP growth rate average of 10% from the current 4%) which may not be backed by equally competent citizenry to support the economy through proportionate innovation and invention, engagement in reasonable productive activities, Uganda may not reap big from its oil sector. This is because failure to match production with the size of GDP may cause distortionary effects on the economy including hyperinflation which may hinder investments as well as further economic growth. 

In addition, such situation is indeed ripe to cause a boom-bust economy as it occurred to Nauru Islands which had a per capita income of $40,000 in 1980 at the start of mineral production and reduced significantly to $2000 in the year 2000 after depletion of the resource.

According to the oil and Gas policy of 2008, oil revenue will be used for infrastructure development and not recurrent expenditure. Whereas this is a good move, there is need to consider the fact that Ugandans are equally an important resource who must have the capacity to put to use the entire infrastructure put up by the government using proceeds from oil.

For instance it doesn't make better sense for so many roads connecting different villages to be tarmacked if the residents cannot afford cars to drive on such roads. Relatedly, extending hydro electricity to all villages is a wise move however connecting such power in grass houses is not only risky but defeats the analogy of modernization as orchestrated by NRM government from time to time.

It therefore important to put human resource development at the forefront such that Ugandan citizens are better positioned to fit in the oil economy boom when production commences and henceforth avoid the ‘resource curse’ that has eluded many African countries such as DRC, Equatorial Guinea,and Angola among others..

The fact that oil and gas are non-renewable and finite resources Uganda needs to ensure that oil and gas resources are managed efficiently and managing them in a manner that will create lasting benefits to society.Thus there is a need for deliberate plan for the emergency of new industries, such as chemicals, fertilizers, cement etc.  These industries are new to Ugandans therefore government needs to render a hand in building the capacity of Ugandans to take up such subsidiary industries which will support the economy.

There is also need to address key bottlenecks to sector growth in agriculture, manufacturing, mining and tourism through investing oil proceeds in infrastructure, better healthcare and quality education to develop the human capital with adequate and employable skills suitable for the oil economy.

There is strong need to build strong transparent accountability systems and a conducive environment for private sector development so that natural resource rents are invested to create other forms of capital.

In conclusion, failure to address the human resource challenges, oil revenue management transparency and accountability gaps, it will be impossible for Uganda to eliminate the ‘resource curse’ and there will be a high likelihood that oil revenues will not be used properly and/or will not impact positively on the lives of ordinary Ugandans.

The writer is the Chairperson, Oil Revenue Tracking and Management Thematic Group, Civil Society Coalition on Oil and Gas in Uganda (CSCO). He is an Economist and Lecturer of Economics at IUIU.

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Oil & Gas Training: Victoria University To Benefit From Coventry University’s Experience

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.

 

Huawei Investing In ICT Skills Development Initiatives

Evelyn Namara is the founder and CEO of Vouch Digital, a technology start-up that is building a verified voucher system M-Voucher for simplifying the distribution of International and National aid.

This electronic voucher system eliminates fraud and corruption in the process of distribution by eliminating the use of cash and introducing digital cards that program participants use to redeem life-saving goods and services from merchants, agro-dealers and shopkeepers.

On 9th July 2012, the Former secretary general of the UN, Ban Ki Moon, in his closing remarks at High-Level Panel on Accountability, Transparency and Sustainable Development noted that 30% of development aid was lost to fraud or corruption.

And he attributed this to a rule of law which is fragile, institutions that are weak and a failure of accountability and transparency in dealing with Money. Which was an inspiration for Evelyn to come up with the M-Voucher.

“My team did the first implementations using a one-time scratchable voucher card system. This voucher type was meant for beneficiaries in very remote areas where the use of smart phones was not possible.

Our system generated voucher numbers, which we printed on physical voucher cards and allowed agro-dealers to redeem using their mobile phones for beneficiaries, ” Evelyn said, “It is a system that can be deployed and replicated anywhere in the world where distribution is a problem.”

Evelyn has been working with International development agencies and facilitated the distribution of seed crops, fertilizers, and farming equipment. So far the system has facilitated over 3 Billion Uganda Shillings in transactions by ensuring verified participants receive verified products and services and that every transaction is tracked in real-time.  

With this innovation, Evelyn won the ICT for Development award, by Uganda Communications Commission to nurture great local talents in the development and provision of innovative products, services and content in Uganda, in partnership with international ICT Company such as Huawei, and other organizations such as Airtel Uganda, Resilient Africa Network and Outbox.

It is worth noting that the rapidly advancing Information and Communications Technologies (‘ICTs’) help in addressing social and economic problems caused by the fast growth of urban youth populations in developing countries like Uganda. Because it offers opportunities to young people for learning, skills development and employment that lead to national development despite the fact that there is lack in having broad access to these new technologies.

The pace of global technological development in the new knowledge economy has created more powerful ICTs, rising demand of ICT skilled employees and a high evolvement of new ICT innovations. However just because the technology trend is fast setting in does not mean that the level of innovation in some parts of the world is synonymous with the trend. Those who cannot access necessary ICT information, skills training and exposure to the latest technological trends will be left behind and vulnerable.  

In Uganda, government and the private sector have put a lot effort to close the existing digital divide. Some of the really noticeable efforts include; Presidential Initiative on Science and Technology which was started purposely to enhance the development of science and research in the country.

The Uganda Industrial Research Institute (UIRI), the Uganda National Council of Science and Technology (UNCST), Makerere University Institute of Science and Technology/Food Science, and the various research stations across the country have been able to benefit from this initiative of the president.

UCC’s ACIA Awards is part of the efforts. Ugandans especially the young and youthful brains, keenly look towards participating in this premier event to benefit from a pool of prizes that have enabled them acquire the resources, linkages and capacity to enhance their innovations.

These awards being the most prestigious information and communications technology awards in Uganda have attracted the Private sector to invest in innovations through sponsorships, partnerships and award category associations.

Huawei Uganda’s Managing Director, Mr. Liujiawei, narrates that the reason they sponsor UCC ACIA Awards and specifically the “ICT for Development Award” is because its objectives are in line with Huawei’s vision in investing in innovations and skills to advance ICT technological progress and national development.

“We combine corporate social responsibility with day-to-day operations and use our core ICT competitiveness and innovation resource and capabilities to bridge the digital divide and upskill people to achieve sustainable social economic development.” Says Mr. Liu Jiawei, Huawei Uganda Managing Director.

After winning the ICT for Development award, Evelyn and her M-Voucher team went on to win other awards. They were chosen as the best agricultural app at the MTN Innovation awards, the outstanding woman in innovation at the same awards, they applied for Cartier Women's Initiative Awards and emerged one of 18 finalists selected from 2,800 applications from 40 countries. Being a finalist came with a cash prize and mentorship in business modeling and financial education.

Looking to the future, Evelyn said that she was encouraged by those awards to explore more into the unknown as she continues to widen her business with new digital identity and technologies.

“Like people of my age who want to start a business, I used to lack of confidence in my project. These awards especially the first one ICT for Development award really encouraged and motivated me to explore into the unknown, and the exploration does not stop at failure, especially in our country Uganda, which is among the world’s most entrepreneurial nation.

I'm now continuing to focusing on our new digital identity and blockchain product that will make distribution even much easier and will allow for easy traceability of cash,” She said.

How Victoria University Is Preparing Ugandans To Work In Oil & Gas Industry

Working in Uganda’s nascent oil and gas industry is not going to come on a silver platter. It will come after acquisition of the right and necessary skills through training and certification. A better understanding of the industry will be unavoidable.

This, International Oil Companies (IOCs) have repeatedly said imploring Ugandans to prepare themselves through training and adhering to standards and practices that are globally recognized. Basically there is no panya (shortcut) to be able to work or provide a service in this oil and gas business.

Unfortunately, while there are thousands of Ugandans desiring to find work or business in the oil and gas industry not many match the skills and standards the industry requires. This has been mainly due to lack of proper training centres in the country and agencies to certify trainees. This is something the private sector and government are working on.

With basically one government institution, Uganda Petroleum Institute Kigumba (UPIK), specialized in oil and gas training, private institutions like Victoria University Kampala are filling up the gap by introducing courses that the industry needs to provide the necessary local workforce.

Victoria University Kampala, located at Victoria Towers on Jinja Road in Kampala, in 2015 started the Department of Petroleum in the Faculty of Business and Management to purposely play a role and prepare Ugandans who wanted to work in the oil and gas industry. The department is growing stronger each year.

To kick start their journey of skilling Ugandans in the oil and gas industry the University introduced a Bachelor of Science in Oil and Gas Accounting. On this, the University added a series of certificate courses targeting professionals who are already involved in the industry. These are mainly short courses which address a particular need.

The certificate courses include Certificate in Oil and Gas Management, Certificate in Oil and Gas Law, Certificate in Oil and Gas Project Management, Certificate in Health, Safety and Environmental Management and Certificate in Oil and Gas Supply Chain Management. This year, the University said it will introduce other degree, diploma and certificate courses to further meet the demand.

Dr. Omotayo Adegbuyi, the Dean Faculty of Business and Management at Victoria University in an exclusive interview with this magazine explained expressly that different topics are covered under oil and gas certificate courses.

These range from petroleum information, exploration, management, petroleum economics, monitoring and evaluation and health, safety and environment (HSE). He explained that oil and gas is characterized by risk of pollution so students are trained how to take care of their health, safety and environment.

The Vice Chancellor of the University Dr. Krishnna N. Sharma in a separate interview early this year said the core goal of the University is to motivate students to focus more on gaining knowledge and skills rather than getting good marks and academic papers.

“You will find many students who have qualified after exams but they don’t have skills and exposure. Victoria University believes in quality rather than quantity. It’s not only the programs but also the delivery of programs,” Dr. Sharma said.

International collaborations

The University, owned by Dr. Sudhir Ruparelia under the Ruparelia Group, recently collaborated with United Kingdom’s Coventry University to train oil and gas workers in Uganda. This partnership puts the University in a better position especially when it comes to issues of certifying trainees.

The Vice Chancellor Dr. Sharma speaking at the signing of the partnership with Coventry University described the affiliation as an opportunity for Victoria University to contribute to the country’s Oil and Gas sector.

“We need to build up the capacity of the Ugandans so that when the companies come, they don’t go out to look for human resource.” Dr. Sharma said, adding that the University is ready for the challenge of training Ugandans in oil and gas related courses.

In this partnership, the role of Victoria University is to mobilize the instructors and provide training to the people, as guided by the Education Ministry.

Dr. Omotayo said Coventry University is well known and has many affiliates handling standards and certification. Victoria University, Dr. Omotayo said, now has the privilege to benefit from these affiliations to set the standards and acquire certifications for their trainees so they can be accepted in Uganda’s oil and gas industry.

“We have this collaboration with Coventry University to train welders, technicians and others. We are going to take them to the field for practical lessons. Coventry University will bring their experts and we will bring ours; together they will train workers employed in the oil and gas sector,” he added.

Dr. Omotayo noted that right now, as a knowledge based University, they are focused on training different categories of human resource that will be employed in the oil and gas industry. Several students and trainees will graduate later this graduate and ready for employment in the industry.

Study tours, compulsory internship

To add to their classroom delivery, Victoria University provides practical field tours to Oil Fields in the Albertine Graben (Hoima and Buliisa Oil Fields) for their students and trainees so they can have a hands on experience of what they learn in classrooms.

This is also supplemented by compulsory internship placements in different government and private organizations. The training program equips delegates with skills and knowledge to start a rewarding career in the oil and gas industry.

“One thing that is unique about Victoria University, a unique feature, is that it is compulsory for our students to go through internship at least three times before they graduate. Every year, our students are expected to go for internship of a minimum of eight weeks,” Dr. Omotayo said.

Adding: “The objective is that they are able to learn hands on. Even oil and gas students are sent to oil companies to have hands on training and experience. We have MoUs with oil companies; already signed and sealed. Our students will be there to intern,”

Oil and Gas Courses Entry Requirements

To study a Bachelor of Science in Oil & Gas Accounting, a candidate needs to have a Uganda Advanced Certificate of Education with two principal passes or its equivalent. Holders of a Diploma in any related course from a recognized institution can also be considered.

The BSc in Oil and Gas Accounting is designed to develop specialized knowledge and skills specifically for an accounting career in the oil and gas industry. It offers a blend of theory, experience and the practical skills required for effective financial accounting and management within the industry.

The course will enable students to develop a critical awareness of the key issues in accounting for upstream oil and gas exploration, development and production activities, and is delivered by respected academics with relevant industry experience.

Studies in oil and gas accounting will prepare graduates to measure and analyze the income, costs, sources and uses of funds of oil companies at different levels of the oil and gas value chain on the basis of certain generally accepted principles.

The minimum entry requirement to all certificates in oil and gas is 2 Principal passes at A’ Level or a Diploma from a recognized institution. Possessors of a recognized university degree have an added advantage.

The oil & gas certificate is a 6 week course designed to provide you with a well-rounded, global understanding of the ever-changing oil and gas industry. It is developed and delivered by experts trained in all aspects of the oil and gas industry.

The course units are delivered in form of presentations by oil and gas experts, videos, and interactive question and answer sessions. The certificate in oil and gas is a gateway to employment opportunities in Uganda's oil and gas sector and for furthering your studies in this vibrant industry.

The targeted individuals are those already working in the oil and gas industry who seek a greater understanding of the fundamentals in the global oil and gas business, professionals making the transition from technical roles to managerial positions, where a broader knowledge of the business is essential for their career advancement.

Others are new employees and support staff of the oil and gas companies wanting to gain a broader understanding of the various aspects of oil and gas sector and business students studying the oil and gas industry and looking for a comprehensive global learning experience.

The targeted individuals are those already working in the oil and gas industry who seek a greater understanding of the fundamentals in the global oil and gas business, professionals making the transition from technical roles to managerial positions, where a broader knowledge of the business is essential for their career advancement.

Others are new employees and support staff of the oil and gas companies wanting to gain a broader understanding of the various aspects of oil and gas sector and business students studying the oil and gas industry and looking for a comprehensive global learning experience.

INTERVIEW: Victoria University’s Pimer Peace Determined To Change Fortunes Of Girls In West Nile

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.

Pimer Peace Monica

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.

Peace is mobilizing the girl child in West Nile to give them a way to a better life

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.

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