An Unintended Effect Of Covid-19 Pandemic To Employee Mental Wellness

In these times of the COVID-19, organisations should provide support for employees as a routine aspect of their operation, advises Arjun Mallik, MD Prudential East Africa. He adds that if staff members are cared for, the wider community is strengthened.

Mallik says that COVID-19 and its resultant ebbing lockdown periods have been a stressful time for people all over the world including in Africa therefore emotional wellness of people should be at the forefront of most companies’ plans.

While businesses are grappling with how to sustain themselves, they should simultaneously be taking care of their employees. For Mallik and Prudential, they have rolled out simple initiatives to address mental health among employees.

Below are excerpts of an interview in which Mallik explains what they are doing at Prudential East Africa to avert COVID-199 induced mental health issues.

What key learning lessons has Prudential Africa attained as a result of operating in the COVID - 19 pandemic?

Collective trauma as a result of COVID-19 happened at a societal level while making individuals more inward-looking. Our employees in Ghana, Kenya and Uganda are experiencing heightened trepidation due to everyday uncertainties, less interaction with colleagues and concerns for family safety. Inevitably, employee pressure equals business pressure.

We find that it requires more mindful work within our workplace to balance business objectives and life’s normal needs and responsibilities.

With 60% of its population under the age of 25, Africa is the youngest continent. The continent continues to offer businesses the best prospects for future growth. Human capital is a vital prerequisite for capitalising on opportunities ahead. 

To fully unlock the potential of the vast human resources available it is paramount that each individual is provided with an atmosphere to develop, maintain and grow their mental wellness, which has taken a knock during the pandemic.

Our experience shows that for employees to reach their potential, to contribute meaningfully and to create value in a workplace they must be in the right state of mind.

Shareholders and managers demand a lot from staff and excess stress of this kind leads to mental and physical break downs and sometimes burnout. If someone is anxious, stressed or depressed, they become less attentive and less productive and it sets back their growth potential. Awareness and acceptance of this stress is part of the key to the mental fitness of employees and should never be overlooked.

Although COVID has negatively impacted our lives, it has given people the confidence to admit that they need help and support and to recognise that mental wellness is a priority.

Moreover, at Prudential Africa we have realised that if we give our employees the opportunity to be heard and to heal emotionally, we create an atmosphere for them to bounce back quicker.

Prudential Africa, believes that the first step is to bring the conversation about mental wellness into the open – to acknowledge it, talk about it and, finally, in unison with staff, find solutions to improve. 

What has Prudential Africa invested in to support building staff emotional wellness? 

Prudential Africa has invested in a dedicated programme that ensures the following:  

  • Alleviates stress and builds tool and resources to help staff and managers recognise and act on emotional wellness issues.
  • Exhibit management commitment by providing holistic and sustainable solutions in order to foster a sense of community
  • Create a culture of openness for all staff to perform at their best.
  • Encourage all employees to be accommodating, to listen and to assist with the emotional issues their colleagues are facing.
  • Ensure that the programme transcends beyond the COVID pandemic.

What other tools has Prudential Africa inputted into the staff emotional wellness program to ensure its success?

  • Third party experts presenting on topics such as gratitude and how to balance work and play.
  • Provide staff with tools such as meditation techniques to handle stress.
  • Train managers to identify warning signs within their team or among colleagues - provide them with a toolkit to help them conduct a conversation around emotional wellness.
  • Introduce flexi hours which allow staff to do their work and remain in a safe environment – to be with their families and deliver at work.
  • Install a 24/7 confidential counselling line run by a professional third party for staff and their dependants.
  • Host more teambuilding activities that increase bonding among staff in and out of office to increase collaboration and to keep motivation high.

The ultimate message to staff should be – you are not alone – everyone has mental challenges in different ways and we are all in this together. You should be able to show up to work in the best possible form of yourself.


Kato Isa Explains Why He Is The Right Person To Be MP For Kampala Central

The National Resistance Movement (NRM), the largest and ruling political party in Uganda, is preparing for the 2021 general elections by electing persons to represent them in the national elections at different levels.

The concluded National Delegates Conference held at each of the district headquarters approved the endorsement of President Yoweri Museveni as national chairperson and presidential flag bearer. It elected members of Central Executive Committee.

Now the party is looking at selecting through the NRM party primaries individuals to contest in the general elections as Members of Parliament (MPs) and district local council leaders. MP slots are expected to be highly contested.

The ruling party will take no chances as it looks forward to retaining their majority representation in parliament. They cannot afford to lose even a single slot and for that matter, it will be looking at fronting the strongest candidate who then will battle contenders from other political parties or independents.

Kampala, the epicentre of Uganda’s politics, has some interesting races but being a predominantly an opposition stronghold, Kampala Central, a constituency that has never fallen in the hands of the opposition, has attracted some interesting young candidates at party level.

Poor Youth Coming For Nsereko’s Kampala Central

Kampala Central is occupied by Muhammad Nsereko, currently an independent but a known NRM person. In fact, he was an NRM candidate the first time he contested and won to become MP. He hasn’t expressed intent to reclaim his NRM cap preferring to remain independent.

In the party primaries race, Kampala Central has attracted Kato Isa, famously known for his activism with NRM Poor Youth, Cedric Babu Ndlima, the son Francis Babu and others who will be gunning to capture the blessings of the party.

In an interview with News Today Uganda, Kato Isa comes off as the winning formula that the party needs to reclaim the constituency from an unreliable NRM leaning independent Nsereko.

Kato, has been an active member of NRM right from the university days and at the village level. He resides in William village, Nakasero parish, Kampala.

"I was the general secretary Makerere University NRM Chapter.  When I came out, I concentrated on working and getting more education abroad. When I came back, in 2014, we started the NRM Poor Youth. We did a lot of activism. We were majoring in rooting for rule of law, fighting corruption and empowering the youth," he said.

Through activism under NRM Poor Youth, Kato and his colleagues caused reforms in the party and governments. To date, they are still active fighting corruption in government institutions like Bank of Uganda but they feel the time to upgrade from activism to policymaking is now hence his pursuit to become MP.  

"You know being an activist means that you have a cause and as NRM Poor Youth we had a cause and it doesn’t end at just that, being an activist.  Now we need to also influence decisions.

We have been pushing but there is somewhere where decisions are made, that is where I want to go, the parliament, and take these activism ideas there. We all know the powers that parliament has – everything has to be implemented, supervised and audited in parliament and that is where we need to go right now.”

I Am A Strong Candidate In A Strong Party

Kato is confident that NRM can retain Kampala Central because it is strong with majority voters. “I can give you an example. We have 136 villages and 90 per cent of the chairpersons of these villages are NRM. That gives us the leverage to feel in charge of the city,” he explains.

But with this support and base, Kato believes that the incumbent who enjoys the perks of the party in power has given the electorates a raw deal.

“He is just an MP who keeps in the media but on the ground, we feel that there has been a very big gap which he created within the leadership of Kampala who he should be working with because they are stakeholders.

In the ten years, he has been in parliament, he has never held village meetings to consult, even at parish level – we have 20 parishes – he has never held a meeting to consult. He has abandoned his electorates,”

Kato says he is a strong candidate compared to others and he has premised his manifesto on developing a city that doesn’t compromise its residents. This, he says, requires working together and consulting all stakeholders whose lives and survival are connected to the decisions made by the city leadership.

Boda Bodas, Markets And Education

For example, on the issue of boda boda operating in Kampala, Kato sees no reason why they should be chased out of the city but instead provided lanes in which they can operate without inconveniencing others.

"Why wouldn’t the city physical planners put up walkways and cycling lanes instead of chasing away people. The country is only planning for car drivers; so, I want to advocate for the construction of walkways.

We can work with the technical planning team at KCCA because the plans are there but have not been implemented.  Then we can have cycling lanes, these can give us a breather,”

By the look of things, we shouldn’t expect Kato to advocate for the chasing of boda boda riders out of the city anytime soon. The other key issue in Kampala is the fate of markets. He says that markets are catalysts of development and government should apply the method of zoning so that development is spread across the city and shared.

Kato’s other big ideas are the education sector where he wants to improve academic and sports performance; tourism is something where he wants to tap into by promoting tourist attraction sites in the city and the introduction of themed festivals.

What It Takes To Manage A Pan-African Energy Law Practice In 2020

At 35, Zion Adeoye is the youngest Managing Partner at an African multi-national law firm. Appointed in 2020 to head the Centurion Law Group, Zion embodies a new generation of African lawyers leading the continent into the transformations that will place Africa as the 21st century’s success story.

As he reflects on his professional journey so far, he shares his lessons to any young Africans in search of a meaningful legal career on the continent.

Called to the bar in 2011, Zion holds an LLB from the University of Ibadan in Nigeria and a BL from the Nigerian Law School. Having spent most of its early legal career in Nigeria working on cross-border energy transactions, he moved to South Africa in 2017 to take on the position of Senior Associate Attorney at Centurion, before being promoted to Managing Director this year.

“By my third year at the University of Ibadan, I knew what I wanted to do was specializing in Energy Law. In fact, I had an unconventional journey because I completed by NYSC programme at the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC) before proceeding to Law School,” he recalls.

His early career in Nigeria would then take him to the Tax division of KPMG and eventually to top law firms in Nigeria such as Terra Cotta Legal, Olaniwun Ajayi LP and Templars, before moving in-house at the Transnational Energy/Bresson Power Group. Such experience has offered Zion a decade of expertise in energy, finance and taxation law, which has been the pillar of his success at the Centurion Law Group.

Swimming Against the Current: Beware of the Underdog

As a young Nigerian lawyer working for a pan-African energy law firm, Zion has been in the position of the underdog more than once in his career. “When you are a relatively young energy lawyer in Africa and practice law on a meaningful level, you get used to walking into a room and having people questioning your credibility,” he explains.

“This is especially true of the oil & gas industry where a lot of deals are still made outside the continent in big places like Paris, London or New York by lawyers who are twenty to thirty years older than you and very often educated in big international universities. I have quickly learned to trust my African education and experience gained from doing deals on the ground. Trusting your abilities is key if you want to make it in this industry.”

From his experience gained doing deals in Nigeria but also Zambia, Uganda or South Sudan, Zion believes that a practical mindset and local understanding is how African lawyers can make the difference in a very competitive industry. “Do not let your age or gender bring you down. At the end of the day, clients will be judging you on the quality of the work you do. Do not be afraid of being the underdog,” he says.

Leading in Unchartered Territory: the Challenges of a Changing Legal Profession

As the legal profession worldwide enters unchartered territory, it is in need of leaders who understand both the evolving needs of clients, but are also willing to adopt new technologies and innovate to make their practice more efficient.

With the launch of its new on-demand legal services platform, CenturionPlus, the Centurion Law Group is bringing to Africa a new legal approach to solving clients’ requirements on a need-basis. “CenturionPlus is an answer to clients’ demand for more flexibility in the delivery and billing of their legal requirements, but also responds to the increasing complexity of corporate and commercial transactions made in Africa,” explained Zion.

“Managing an African law firm in 2020 presents a lot of challenges, especially because our continent is growing so rapidly. You need to make sure your team stays ahead the curve and that your practice is constantly innovating to deliver on clients’ expectations. As a team leader, this requires you to build consensus and align your team around one vision and determination,” he added. 

Despite a challenging environment these past years, Centurion has remained ranked Band 1 law firm in its key jurisdictions such as Equatorial Guinea while its senior lawyers are constantly recognized for their contribution to the industry. At the end of 2019 for instance, Zion was recognized as an ESQ 40 under 40 Lawyer at the Nigerian Rising Stars Award.

Adapting to Change: Managing Multi-Cultural Relations with Clients and in the Workplace

Often described as one entity, Africa is one of the most culturally-diverse continent on the planet. Its 54 countries speak hundreds of languages, have their own particular legal regimes, and are at different stages of economic growth. Growing a pan-African practice requires a deep understanding of social and cultural nuances across Africa, which many executives often under-estimate.

“The oil sector is one of the most internationalized industries so by nature you will be dealing with clients from all over the world willing to invest and do business in African jurisdictions that can be very different from one another,” declared Zion. “Do not make the mistake of thinking that because you have done a deal in Ethiopia, you can do the same deal easily in Ghana. Similarly, having as a client a major American oil company is not the same as working on a transaction for a major Chinese oil company. I have seen many law firms and lawyers making these costly mistakes,” he added.

To address this issue, Centurion has kept regionalizing over the years and currently has offices in Equatorial Guinea, Cameroon, Ghana, South Africa, Mauritius and Germany. It has also diversified its lawyers and attorneys, who currently come from over 10 countries and notably speak English, French, Spanish and Portuguese.

“If you want to be successful at managing your law firm, you need a multi-cultural mindset and an understanding that people from different countries and background do business differently and communicate differently,” declared Zion.

“I always found that my legal background has been useful in this regard. As lawyers we are used to finding the right balance between technical, financial, commercial and legal aspects of a transaction. Managing your team takes the same approach of arranging different pieces together to attain a common goal.”

With this leadership style, Zion has earned himself a strong reputation among its peers and the firm’s leading clients from across the continent. When asked about what his biggest challenge was on accepting the responsibility of managing the firm earlier this year, he said: “The biggest challenge when you manage a law firm is having two jobs at the same time. As a Managing Director, I have to oversee several support departments such as business development and marketing, along with supporting other lawyers at the firm and coordinating our strategy. But I am also a lawyer with my own practice having to retain our biggest clients.”

Full Scholarships Now Available At Victoria University

Victoria University, one of the many education investments made by the Ruparelia Group, has announced that aspiring students can now get fully funded scholarships to study courses of their choice at the Jinja Road based institution.

Victoria University Vice Chancellor Dr. Krishna N. Sharma said students applying will, however, be mandated to pay a small application fee.

The university didn’t specify how many scholarships they are going to give out but last year, Victoria University gave out a significant number of scholarships through the Ruparelia Foundation and the beneficiaries commenced their studies.

 In December, to celebrate the festive season, Victoria University offered students joining the institution for short courses this festive season up to 20% discount on fees. The offer closed on 31st December 2019. And now, for the March-April intake, they return with big offers.

In a recent interview with News Today Uganda, the Vice Chancellor Dr. Sharma said the university is going in the right direction and is destined for greatness and wants parents and students to consider it because it is a university that ‘helps you identify where your strength lies as an individual.’

"Before going to a university, a student and parent should know what the child wants to do for the rest of his or her life. I suggest that parents should help their children identify their passion.

"At Victoria University, we help you identify where your strength lies as an individual. You don’t have to sit in a class with hundreds of other students, you can’t get that Victoria University.

"Victoria University has state of the art facilities. Our professors are well vetted before being recruited. Every lecturer is interviewed not just by anyone but the VC, faculty deans, university council and the appointments committee. We are so careful when finding a fulltime staff.

Centurion Law Group’s Adeoye On Importance Of Legal Profession To African Development

Centurion Law Group’s Senior Associate Zion Adeoye is an oil and gas specialist who has focused his career on energy law and finance. He is the Country Relations Lead for South Sudan at Centurion Law Group. He has been a key legal advisor on over 25 oil and gas investments in 12 countries across Sub-Saharan Africa.

Zion holds an LLB from the University of Ibadan, Nigeria and a BL from the Nigerian Law School. He is a member of the Nigerian Bar Association and the Association of Independent Petroleum Negotiators (AIPN). He is currently undertaking an MBA in International Oil and Gas Management at the University of Dundee, Scotland.

In this interview, he talks about the need for the legal profession for Africa to develop economically.

Do you think the current African oil market is adjusting or keeping up with the modern world – enough to play in the same field as America as UAE? 

Markets, including the oil market, are significantly driven by demand and holding a sizeable supply profile. The modern world is in a state of flux in terms of energy demand and supply, whether we are speaking of hydrocarbons or other energy sources.  Africa has the ability, more than ever, to shape the energy world order rather than merely keeping up.

With the US increasing its production profile, the inevitability of scientific breakthroughs in Shale within the next decade for other regions of the world which are currently major hydrocarbons markets for Africa, and potentially significant shift from fossil fuels in Europe,  there is a risk that many out-bound African projects might be in limbo. unlocking the African market is not just a nice-to-have, it is a necessity.

What would your advice for African markets be?

Africa must bring the strength of its population to bear on the global market. Through centralized and regional efforts, Africa must diversify its economies and empower its people, creating alongside a demand base to be reckoned with globally. While achieving this, Africa must begin to look inwards, create and power industries through its own energy.

The population of Nigeria alone is more than a quarter of entire Europe. There is, therefore, a potentially viable market within Africa, which we must begin to unlock as a priority and Intra-African trade must become a top burner to sustain this. The African Continental Free Trade Agreement is a statement in the right direction, but we must begin to see concrete steps that match this statement.

Considering the strides and discoveries that took place in 2019, where do you see the African Energy (oil & gas) market going in the next year: Trends for 2020/2021 and why.

Short of fulfilling the Buridan's ass paradox, Africa is more than justified to aggressively pursue its oil and gas exploration aspirations. What we have seen in 2019 is just the beginning as I believe many new players will join the wagon within the next 3 years. We have also witnessed the ascendancy of African independents oil and gas companies in African E&P across Sub-Saharan Africa and this is a trend that must continue in other to retain value within Africa.

There’s been a lot of talk about carbon emissions, do you see African completely turning away from exploration and production of oil and moving towards green energy any time soon? Or do you think Africa’s oil industry needs to adjust uniquely on how it defines itself to be more eco-friendly.

Contrary to general assumptions, even though accidents continue to occur, the oil and gas industry has significantly improved its health, safety, and environment (HSE) profile over the last decade, but admittedly, the improvement falls far short of what scientists have established will be needed to reduce carbon emissions in order to successfully combat climate change.

Drilling down to Africa’s contribution to carbon emissions vis-à-vis its dependency on hydrocarbons revenue, it’s a no-brainer that Africa is the least culpable even while countries like Gabon continue to show leadership on environmental preservation.

While Africa must have a coordinated plan in the medium to long term on energy base transition and also to achieve zero-flare status in its oil and gas industry, China and the US continue to significantly dominate the global emissions profile and more meaningful cuts will have to come from these countries. China and the US contribute about 40% of global fossil CO2 emissions.

Africa certainly needs a further ramp-up period to grow its industries to achieve a level of economic security at which point a whole-scale energy-source shift will be feasible.          

What are your views and predicted operating implications or wins, regarding the recently announced Nigerian Deep offshore and Inland Basin Production Sharing Contract (Amendment) Act 2019?

The new Act codifies the Nigerian government’s position on lingering issues relating to Nigerian deep offshore and inland basin PSCs, especially the fiscal terms. While investors will make a judgment on whether the terms are fair or favorable for investment, clarity, and certainty through legislative enactment is always a welcome development for investors.

You were one of the legal advisors that drafted, negotiated and advised on the Exploration and Production Sharing Agreement (EPSA) for the B2 Block signed this week between South Sudan and South Africa. What made this deal the deal of the century for the two countries?

To retain significant oil and gas industry value within Africa, a good number of oil and gas deals must have African players at both ends of the table. Having two African countries successfully complete a deal such as the Block B2 acquisition goes one step ahead in my opinion as the local content imperatives of both countries will be afforded full expression. Also, for South Africa and South Sudan, the upstream and downstream synergy potentials on the deal is huge and perhaps a worthy model for cementing of relations between African nations.

You’ve worked on some of Africa’s most significant Energy deals and top matters. Where have you seen a sustained impact and what can other countries/ministries learn?

I am passionate about the African oil and gas industry working for Africans, not only in terms of revenue generation but also in terms of other KPIs such as energy availability for African industries, engagement of the local private sector across the oil and gas value chain and the development of technical capabilities. I have seen significant efforts across the board with the increasing involvement of African players on these KPIs but a lot more is needed.

In terms of scaling up technical capabilities where significantly more impact is required, I believe more opportunities must be afforded to the local private sector players in Africa, because, let’s face it, skills and capabilities are neither gender nor race exclusive. There is an all-but-scientifically-proven standard amount of formal education, practical experience and financial resources required to ramp up to the desired level of capability on any given project. Perhaps regulators will have to be more scientific in aggregating these three elements and making them available to local players.

What do you wish you had known about the legal profession before becoming an attorney?

Simply put, the importance of the legal profession to African economic development. I would argue that many African countries would have been better served by being afforded sound legal advisers at the deal table than peace-keeping soldiers and foreign aid.

It Is Hard To Find Right Human Resource In Academia – Vice Chancellor

All has been well for Assoc Prof Krishna N. Sharma during his time as Vice Chancellor of Victoria University for the past two years. In this elaborative interview, Dr. Sharma tells his story at Victoria University so far.

You have been to Victoria University, for now, two and a half years, what are the highlights of your stay here and the things you have been able to achieve as a Vice Chancellor?

I joined Victoria University in January of 2017. I joined here as dean faculty of health sciences. Then after six months, there was a vacancy for the Vice Chancellor and I applied. Fortunately, I was selected and I was appointed in July 2017.

The journey has not been easy as you know Victoria University had some turbulent times during that period. The good thing is we had a good team at that time and everyone supported each other including directors. We started setting up our targets.

Our priority at that time was to come up with strong policies and procedures. We had some but we wanted to improve on that. In two years, we have almost 30 policies. I am happy that my team could achieve that.

Our next priority was to put in place a good human resource- to attract and retain good human resource. We mobilized professors from Sweden, Nigeria, Uganda and India. We also increased the number of fulltime, dedicated, staff members to decrease the number of absenteeism by lecturers which is very common with part timers because they just come, teach and go.  Part timers are not available to mentor students; they are not committed and never focus. They have limited time at the university.

Our next task was to improve on research and publication since we had the issues of policy and staff sorted. It became very prominent and smoother. In my tenure, we have published about 35 publications including three books, some best sellers. That was an achievement for us.

For the two years, we have significantly grown the number of students who have joined the university. It is in this tenure that we have the biggest intake in the history of this university. Our students’ numbers started improving when we improved on all these administrative things.

We also started on community engagements. It was that time we started engaging communities. We started to go into slums to work with NGOs, held health camps and others. At the moment we are working with Mpigi local government to set up a model village.

Our faculty of social sciences wants to direct all its energy, research, internship, to that project. Every program impacts the community in different ways. Our students are trying to see how they can create a positive impact.

We are trying to see how we can create collaborations because you cannot do everything alone. We started signing MoUs and implementing them. These are the things we are focusing on. We also engaged professional bodies. We sit with technocrats, employers, experts and regulators to revise our curriculum. So we revised everything in the curriculum. We made it more practical, market driven and research based. We needed that paradigm shift.

We started improvising technologically. We are going away from the paperwork way; we are now going digital. We have systems in place to achieve this. That is where we have started going, fortunately, we are seeing some good response.

We have started working with the Uganda Cricket Association and Federation of Uganda Basketball Association offering free courses to officials and players. We are planning to do so much so that we can create an impact. 

You seem to have settled in quick going by some of the things you have been able to achieve at this university, what are some of the factors that made this possible?

When settling in a new place, their setups that you need to put in place first. I have worked in Africa earlier before coming to Uganda, in Cameroon. So I was quite comfortable working in Africa. When I came here, I didn’t see any difference between India and Africa.

We all have that culture of togetherness so for me it was not difficult and Uganda being a friendly country, I settled in fast. In the institution, I was fortunate that I found a good team. Everyone was supportive and that gave me an advantage.

I got good friends through the university community and rotary club.

One of your priorities, when you arrived at this university, was to prioritize and focus on research and publication of research findings, what is the scorecard now so far?

When I joined, at that time, we had only about three or four publications since 2010. But since I joined, we have about 35 publications, by both students and lecturers. That is quite a good improvement in the past two years.

What we want to bring to this university is the culture of research. Under research, all around the world, the leading motivation is peer recognition. This year we are going to set a research agenda as a university and every faculty will set their own research agenda. Then every student and every staff. But all must fit in the whole research agenda of the university.

When you came in, you made it clear that for a student to progress, grades and classwork marks shouldn’t be prioritized over skills development, now that you have been here this long, do you still share this same school of thought?  

I still feel the same. Scoring high marks doesn’t prove that you will be successful in life. This is why we were having a discussion about the awards given to students who get good grades in exams. We said, why should we only recognize those who pass their exams and ignore those who do well in exams but also in other co-curriculum activities like sports.

Why are we judging them by the ability to cram their classwork and have good grades? Why can’t we recognize someone who is just passing their exams but is doing very well in the community? That is why we identified a student who is good at music and I linked him to a colleague in India. They are going to record music together.

And the students are responding well. Students are coming up with proposals for project ideas they like and passionate about.

In the recent past, we have seen Victoria University enter into several partnerships with different organizations, are the fruits coming through?

Our collaboration with Speke Group of Hotels offers a better opportunity for internship opportunities. Our collaboration with Victoria Hospital and other hospitals around us is giving us better opportunities for students in the faculty of health sciences to do the internship. Through our other collaborations, we had an international trip to Kenya. These partnerships are important.

As the head of the administrative unit at Victoria University, what challenges have you faced?

My biggest challenge is to find the right human resource in academia. We get so many applications but unfortunately, when we interview them we get disappointed. Many people are trying to make money.

You find someone with four masters but not a PhD. They are doing these master’s not because they love them but because they want to show that they can do this and that because they have studied it. This means you are a jack of all trades and a master of none.

Why would a parent choose to bring his or her child to study at Victoria University?

A parent and student should know why they should join a particular university. There are so many institutions out there. For example, why should one go to a business school when they can help their parents operate a shop or anyone’s shop and start learning on the ground?

What is the essence of going to university, and that is a question that is coming up very often?

Before going to a university, a student and parent should know what the child wants to do for the rest of his or her life. I suggest that parents should help their children identify their passion. 

At Victoria University, we help you identify where your strength lies as an individual. You don’t have to sit in a class with hundreds of other students, you can’t get that Victoria University.

Victoria University has state of the art facilities. Our professors are well vetted before being recruited. Every lecturer is interviewed not just by anyone but the VC, faculty deans, university council and the appointments committee. We are so careful when finding a fulltime staff.

We help students get an internship at the right organizations. We structure internship objectives for students, give them internship introduction letters, pay for the internship and the student will just go to do the internship. Thereafter, the student will have to defend the internship report proposal, even at diploma level. I am surprised many universities in Uganda don’t do it.

We don’t have too much negative bureaucracy. If a student wants to meet me, I am available for mentorship, guidance and guidance. Other members of the management and teaching staff are available. A student doesn’t need to have an appointment to be attended too.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Local Content Development Investment Must Be Supported By Strong Regulations

There's so much excitement about where Angola's energy sector is headed. Sergio Pugliese, a successful entrepreneur and oil executive, is really hyped and enthused about recent developments and future direction of his country's energy sector.

Angola is ranked second largest oil producing country in Sub-Saharan Africa and an OPEC member with an output of approximately 1.55 million barrels of oil per day and an estimated 17,904.5 million cubic feet of natural gas production.

Production levels in Angola are expected to soar by 2020 following the country's restructuring, including the reorganization of the state oil company Sonangol.

In addition to a drastic revision of  Angola's legislation related to oil and gas, the government's intent is to spur growth in the sector, encouraging exploration in development areas, improving operation efficiencies, reducing taxes, empowering the private sector, and attracting investors.

Since the 2017 elections, Angola's oil and gas sector has been featured in numerous conferences aimed at linking top government officials with the global energy industry.

The African Energy Chamber (AEC), the continent's voice for the ongoing change and progression in the African energy industry recently named Sergio Pugliese as the AEC's President for Angola.

The appointment will be the first of many to follow across the continent as the AEC guides local content development that will enable African companies to grow and take the lead in the development of their continent. In an official statement, Pugliese notes:

"It is with great sense of responsibility towards Angola and the African Energy Chamber that I am assuming this new function. Angola is reforming is very fast and the need to provide accurate information and guidance for investors doing business in Angola is growing".

Prior to being named the AEC's President for Angola, Sergio Pugliese most recently worked with BP and Statoil as top executive before founding Angola-focused oil and gas services companies Motiva LDA and Amipha LDA.

The rapid change and reform in Angola's oil sector since the 2017 election has caught the attention of many. Will this enhance Angola's work towards attracting more investment into local content development? 

Investment into local content development needs to be channelled and supported by strong regulations. As more foreign investors get into the market, the country is currently working on a new regulatory framework to promote the development of the Angolan content and build domestic capacities.

At the moment, several pieces of legislation touch on local content and there is a definitive need to make our local content framework more efficient and competitive. A draft presidential decree on local content has been in the works this year and is expected for release and public consultation this month.

The oil Industry is looking forward to the Angola Oil and Gas conference organised by Africa Oil and Power in Luanda from June 2nd to 4th. The President is going to unveil the government's oil and gas agenda.

As the largest oil lobby in Africa, we will be working closely with the government and the oil industry on this. The Oil industry and Angola needs a champion and we will be that champion.

There was an announcement this year by the Angolan Government that it will create a regulatory body for the hydrocarbons sector – What do you expect this move to encourage within the Angolan Oil and Gas sector? 

The creation of the new Angola National Petroleum and Gas Agency (ANPG), officially launched through Presidential Decree 49/19 in February 2019, is one of the most significant reforms since 2017. Its pioneer Chairman is non-other that experienced oil and gas executive and former Secretary of State Paulino Jeronimo, who has earned a very good reputation within the industry following an impressive track record stretching over many decades.

More importantly, it will be acting as Angola's national concessionaire for hydrocarbon licenses and be in charge of regulating the industry and implementing government policy. The creation of the agency is part of Angola's efforts to streamline and overhaul the governance of its hydrocarbons sector. Up until now, state-owned Sonangol was responsible for such licensing activities. Setting up the ANPG

puts Angola at par with best oil and gas industry practices, and is a positive move to promote good governance and transparency within the Angolan industry. We expect foreign investors and operators to respond very positively to this measure.

What strategies does Angola have to further encourage the financing of expansion of SME's in its petroleum sector?

The government of Angola currently runs a number of programs, some of them, jointly funded with multilateral organizations which offer soft loans to SMEs in all sectors of the economy. These loans are accessible via state-owned banks but have especially since the 2014 financial crisis stringent criteria for access attached to them.

The Africa Energy Chamber continues to advocate for such loans to be made available to local entrepreneurs who are likely to employ more people in good-paying jobs whenever they have access to the right kind of financing. In the near future, I will lead a delegation to Europe, America and other African countries to see what they have done right and will build more coalitions to help the Angolan sector.

Are there any specific local content projects that Angola will be highlighting?

I think the current approach by the Angolan government to encourage and strengthen local companies via tools such as offering them soft loans, rather than legislate them into projects is the best way of building local companies in a competitive manner. That is, they are more likely to be capable of competing with internationally active companies and hence ensuring their survival in the long-term.

What in your view are the common challenges in implementing strong local content policies in the Oil and Gas sector?

Some of the common challenges include the absence of capital, technology and deep industry know-how for local companies to carry out the high paying services in the industry. This eventually leads to local content being relegated to low paying and low jobs that do not in the long run help develop the kind of capacity needed to run the industry in the future with reduced dependence on foreign staff or capital.

What is the importance of working with local companies across the value chain?

Local companies are the ones that support the local economy and create the most jobs. Engaging, partnering and working with them promotes technology, skills and know-how transfers. It is also beneficial for robust national employment growth.

More importantly for business perhaps, local companies are the ones with the deepest and most relevant knowledge of the local market environment, its dynamics and the way to do business. Setting up a joint venture with a local company or partnering with them has proven a very sustainable and profitable business strategy for many foreign investors. 

The Chamber will be pushing for more joint ventures and encourage a lot of technology and skill transfer. Local companies have to also do their best to meet the industry demands and standards.

How can this strengthen capacities and transfer know-how and increase local capability?

Exposing local companies to best international practices, be it on an operational or managerial level, is very beneficial. National oil companies have grown a lot this way, by having stakes in licenses operated by international oil companies, and acquiring de facto the technology, know-how and practices that they now use to operate their own blocks.

This move wouldn't have been made possible without their prior association with major IOCs and international oilfield services providers. The same thinking applies to engineering, procurement and construction, manufacturing and the overall value chain.

Equatorial Guinea's Minister Gabriel Obiang Lima has been very vocal about this and we will work with the Angolan oil sector to ensure this happens.

Given the highly technical and technological demands of the oil and gas industry, is the Angolan workforce ready to accommodate the growth of a local E&P industry?

Yes, certainly so. Similar to Nigeria's experience, where the government created the right kind of enabling environment to spur the growth of local E&P companies, Angolan companies can do the same if provided the same opportunities. Nigeria can now boast of names like Oando, Sahara, Aiteo, Shoreline, Atlas Oranto and Seplat amongst others which are now respected brands in the region.

Angolan banks have to develop capacity in terms of understanding E&P, be willing to lend to local players at reasonable rates and the government has to encourage joint ventures between Local and international companies. The Africa Energy Chamber strongly advocates for such measures to be taken.

What, in your view, is the most pressing problem for Angola's energy sector?

Angola desperately needs more exploration, including in marginal fields to stem the declining oil production. This is currently being addressed by the government which set up a technical committee that includes IOCs and government stakeholders to discuss existing hindrances to investment in the sector.

This committee is already bearing fruit with Total announcing that it will invest hundreds of millions into Angola, including towards the increasing of production in block 17. The government also set up an independent Petroleum and Gas agency which is tasked with action as a regulator in the industry and implementing government policy in the sector. The agency has already announced that it will carry out an auction for block licenses this year in an attempt to spur exploration in Angola.

Where do you see the greatest potential for Angola's Oil and Gas sector in the future?

There is potential across the value chain. In upstream, our production has been decreasing for over a decade due to a lack of investment, especially in exploration. We are seeing the trend reversing now with several investment commitments from operators in the market. More importantly, perhaps, the rest of our value chain remains under-developed.

Our midstream and downstream infrastructure needs billions of investment to connect existing and future fields to consumption centres, and to build the refineries, power plants, petrochemical plants and fertilizer plans who will be processing our future output of oil and gas.

What is your thought on what is considered an urgent need to develop a gas economy in order to fuel future electricity, enable renewables and support industrial development for the benefit of Angolans?

The major pillar that was needed to build our gas economy was the regulatory one, which has been passed last year. Presidential Decree No. 7/18 is the first law aimed at specifically regulating the prospection, research, evaluation, development, production and sale of natural gas in Angola.

To date, only the Angola LNG Project had benefited from a special legal and tax framework. Before the passing of PD 7/18, the exploration and production of natural gas in Angola was subject to very broad principles only.

These notably included making associated natural gas surplus available for free to Sonangol, and the possibility for oil companies to jointly-develop non-associated natural gas with Sonangol, with terms defined on a case-by-case basis. Sonangol was free to develop the non-associated gas discoveries on its own shall no agreement be reached with the oil company.

Under PD 7/18, both Sonangol and oil companies have the rights to prospect, research, evaluate, develop, produce and sell natural gas in the international and domestic markets. More importantly, the decree provides for the possibility of specific and longer periods for natural gas exploration and production as compared with crude oil. Such periods can now all be extended so as to accommodate the particularities of developing a natural gas project.

However, and as experience has shown, the success of Angola's gas economy will now rely on the creation of gas demand centres and the development of gas-consuming industries. These include power generation, petrochemicals and fertilizers, compressed and piped natural gas in the retail space, but also steel and cement.

This is probably where the most urgent need currently lies as we want to make sure the future gas output will not be just exported internationally but used domestically to build industries and create jobs for Angolans.

With Africa been considered the last frontier, why does it seem to not have reached its full potential? What is causing this blockage in greater development? What role could Intra-Africa trade play in this regard?

Weak governance structures and lack of investment in exploration have so far prevented Africa from exploiting its full potential. This particularly applies to Angola. The crash in commodity prices in 2014 was just the ultimate blow to our industries who were, in fact, relying on weak foundations.

Tough lessons have been learned over the past few years on the need to reform our legislative frameworks, provide better clarity to investors, and diversify our economies. Intra-African energy cooperation has a major role to play in this regards as it is able to unlock massive deals and projects.

The case of Senegal and Mauritania who are developing the giant Tortue gas field, or of Equatorial Guinea and Cameroon who recently signed a unitization agreement for gas, are prime examples.

There is so much to be achieved from a greater African energy dialogue in terms of transnational projects and exchange of commodities. In this regard, we believe that not only the private sector, but also and above all African national oil companies (NOCs) have a major role to play in driving that cooperation forward.

Could you introduce yourself to our international audience and the scope of your role as AEC's President for Angola?

I moved back to Angola two decades ago after I completed my studies at Cambridge and the University of Adelaide from where I earned my MBA. This was the golden age of Angola's oil and gas sector, so I naturally started working with major international oil companies such as Statoil and British Petroleum.

This is where I got firsthand experience into the commercial, financial and technical aspects of operating producing oil blocks. I am a strong advocate of our local industry and have always been an entrepreneur at heart, so I eventually went on to set up Amipa LDA and Motiva LDA, two Angolan oil & gas services companies.

In my role at the Chamber, I intend to both facilitate the entry of new players and investors and ensure domestic capacities and capabilities are developed and good paying local jobs are created for Angolans.

The reforms led by H.E. President Joao Lourenço are profoundly transforming our oil and gas industry by improving its business environment. This is generating tremendous interest from the international energy community and the network of partners the Chamber has. With over a decade of experience in the sector globally, I am able to bring them the kind of local and sector expertise they seek when coming to Angola.

Under the leadership of its Chairman NJ Ayuk, the Chamber has been at the forefront of the most important and recent deals in Africa's hydrocarbons sector and we truly look forward to bringing these deal-making abilities to Angola. We are going to be champions for Angola. Our country needs champions.

What will be the strategic importance of African Energy Chamber to the Angolan Oil and Gas sector?

The African Energy Chamber will be channelling global interest for Angola's oil & gas sector, providing local knowledge on the market and advisory support for investors and local companies. More importantly and in line with our mandate to build African capacities, the Chamber will act as a catalyst for training Angola's oil & gas workforce, build domestic capacity and advocate for an enabling environment.

Low taxes, limited government, fair local content, fair fiscal frameworks, market-driven policies, incentives to drill, judicial security and respect for the rule of law will get us to a fairer and balance oil sector.

What advice do you have for potential foreign investors looking at Angola as well as your own AEC members?

A major advice is to carefully choose a local partner. Investors tend to think that with enough capital and experience they can make it. While this is not entirely false, tying-up with an Angolan partner or establishing cooperation with a local entity on the ground always gives a major boost to a new business, especially in its early years.

Operating in Angola does come with a few challenges that can easily be overcome if an investor works with the right people and the credible and efficient local companies that know the market and how to get things done. We also tell investors to not just look at the upstream segment but consider opportunities across the value chain, be it in midstream, downstream, fabrication, services and supplies.

A market like Angola which produces almost 1.5 million bpd offers considerable opportunities across the industry and anyone looking at Angola shouldn't consider exploration and production as the only lucrative investment to be made here.

Where do you want to take the AEC in your tenure of President for Angola?

The AEC will become the entry door to Angola's oil & gas sector. We want to ensure that there is an enabling environment for oil and gas investments. Oil companies must be given the incentives to invest but we are the oil industry also know we have an obligation to the Angolan people.

We have to work with policymakers and implement strategies and solutions that will work in Africa. Look at Gabon's leadership on the environment, Equatorial Guinea on Gas monetization, Ghana on building regulatory frameworks.

Also, also look at Nigeria when it comes to empowering Africans.  We are already receiving lots of queries from new investors wishing to enter the market, and having local representatives on the ground is positioning us as a strong advisor and facilitator for foreign investors, while being able to properly communicate what is happening on the ground to the international energy community.

On the second hand, we also want to be building domestic capacity, both by training and skilling Angolans so they can take on additional responsibilities across the value chain, but also by bringing in more technology and best practices to our local companies so we contribute to boosting local content.

Trade Minister Commends Rosebud, Premier Roses

The state minister for trade and cooperatives Michael Werikhe has commended Rosebud and Premier Roses for the work they doing in floriculture industry.

The two firms owned by Ruparelia Group have continued to be the leading exporter of rose flowers to inthe international market. Because of their resilience, they have earned Uganda billions of shillings in foreign exchange.

"We  commend  both  Rosebud and Premier Roses for continuing to remain the biggest exporters of high quality Rose stems to the international market and do encourage their colleagues  to double their efforts in terms of improved products to attract better export returns" the minister said in an interview with Xpress Times, a local online news publisher.

He said that Rosebud did the country proud when they exported close to 16m high quality Rose stems to the World market during this year’s International Mothers day which falls every  May 13th, a season where the world flowers demand shoots up especially in  the Americas, Europe and the Scandinavian countries.

"Statistics emerging from the sector indicates that Rosebud being the biggest exporter of Rose flowers did our country proud by way of increasing their export capacity down from the normal 13m stems per month to over 16m respectively  just within that one month of International Mother’s day festive," he revealed.

"My ministry which is strategically charged with responsibility of observing  figures of all types of exports from Uganda shall continue to work with these investors to ensure that all necessary technical and logistical support is extended to them because of their pivotal role of empowering our people in fighting household poverty by way of creating thousands  of jobs for them not only in the flower sub sector but other key areas of the economy such as education, Real Estate, hospitality industry, Insurance among others” noted Werikhe.

The farm manager Ravi Kumar exclusively told Xpress Times recently that they have stepped up their corporate social responsibilities [CSR] efforts by way of helping the community of  Namulanda which surrounds both  their two farms to  benefit from a special pack  of free social services like access to clean water, healthcare, education and sports among others.

"We  sincerely appreciate the close cordial relationship we enjoy with the community of Namulanda at large as we closely ensure that they access free social services like access to water, financial services, education, healthcare and sports respectively as these are part of our official company corporate social responsibility work of giving back to the immediate communities’’ noted Kumar.

Rajiv Ruparelia the managing director  of Ruparelia Group said Rosebud is now well placed and has capacity to export more high quality Rose flowers to the World market because they have increased on their acreage output, fighting pests on farm and the deliberate introduction of new high quality flower species.

"Rosebud assures the country that they have developed full capacity that enables them to export more volumes of flowers to the world  and promised to continue creating more jobs especially  empowering the women who are vulnerable to poverty as they carry the biggest burden of nurturing their families" Rajiv observed.

We Must Prepare Students To Be Able To Create Jobs - VC Victoria University

In 2010, a new private university, Victoria University, opened its door to Ugandans who wanted to pursue post secondary education but wanted something different from what the existing universities were offering.

However, it was not smooth sailing for Edulink Holdings Limited which owned the university at the time. Dr. Sudhir Ruparelia came to the rescue and in 2013, Victoria University, became part of the Ruparelia Group.

The University was  moved from its original home on Kiira road to Victoria Towers on Jinja Road, opposite Dewinton Road in the accessible city center.

In this interview, the vice chancellor Dr. Krishna N. Sharma expounds on the abilities and future of the University.

 What is the difference between the Victoria University of five
years back and the one of today 2018?

Victoria University is growing on a steady progress, every university grows slowly and universities are not like secondary schools, where you can keep loading in students on short term basis. You know any university is a universal thing, it doesn’t handle only teaching, it has many responsibilities, it does teaching, community engagements, research and publication .

when we talk about the university progression we talk about all the aspects. When we started we had only four programs in 2010 but now we have 20 programs, we have reviewed all our curricular with in these five years and the beautiful thing is that government doesn’t stop you from keeping reviewing your curricular in order to do something extra to your students.

When it comes to publications, we are building up capacity and just with in 2017 we published 25 publications including two books and our students have published because right now we have 5-6 publications in the pipeline.

On community engagement, we are moving because we keep going to camps to do the stress tests, counseling and apart from that our students have new creation, they have set new small nutrition groups in schools. 

Right now if you visit primary schools in Kamwokya pupils will tell you what to eat or not what to eat, how to clean your hands in homes and communities they are living in courtesy of knowledge they got from our students.

These students do their research within the community. So when you talk of progression, yes we are moving.

Where do you see Victoria University going within the next 10
years or more?

we have many plans but the education system is such a dynamic field, you cannot say that you are going to do A-B-D-C. We have bigger plans, we are going to start more masters programs, we are going to have more international collaborations like now we are in touch with Iceland government for a project, and we are in touch with one Swedish company and some hospitals to help them in research.

In future we are going to focus much on research and innovations. And certainly we shall set up branches in the next 10 or 15 years, in other parts of the country, that’s the plan but initially we wanted to first build up our expendable own campus in Kampala. so once we grow and become bigger then we shall expand this campus. 

What makes Victoria University different from other universities in Uganda?
Let me start with the different aspects of personalities of students or the student’s life. When you went to university trust me you went to study and pass the examination.

For example you may have some good friends you studied with and they are of big ranks in government and you can call them and say hi, and that kind of environment is what we want to give to our students and not only on national level but also internationally.

In lifestyle, were are in the heart of the town, they have that exposure, a person can come from the village and then learns how to live in high society.

When new students come here and see the cleanliness here after spending with us three years they will not want
to see dirty environment in their homes or where they are employed.

They also want to keep the open roof policy. We don’t treat them as students, we treat them as participants and our methodology of teaching is very beautiful I can tell you.

What do you do to students who come from far? Does university have students’ halls of residence?
First of all we don’t differentiate our students, we treat all of them equally, we identify their challenges and we sort it.

Those who want to rent hostels they can rent, our hostels are located just near at Nkrumah road about five minutes from here, students who come from abroad, we pick them on the first trip, our admissions office help them for visa .

Every year we see thousands and thousands graduating and joining
street life, searching for jobs, but with little success. Who should we blame for this unemployment in Uganda? Government?

I think government is not a problem, what else do you expect from government? The first problem is the thousands and thousands of graduates.

You cannot teach one thousands while you are graduating one thousand. Teach the number of students that you can handle. You see in developed countries like in India if anyone wants to start nursing school, the nursing council has to come and tell you the number of students your supposed to teach.

What is lacking in Uganda is technical skill, students go to classroom, a lecturer comes and you know professors have their own problems all over the world. They want students to read what is written in the book but the book is outdated, which is different with Victoria University.

We teach knowledge, attitude and skills. In UK or other developed countries I don’t think people die to get government jobs, graduates want to work for themselves because they have knowledge and skill. Literally governments around the world cannot employ every one.

It’s us the institutions that must prepare students for the market. For example we have mentored some of our students at Victoria University to start up their own Uganda it’s only our nursing students that do dissection not anywhere else. Uganda’s problem of unemployment is the poor quality of graduates institutions produce.


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