The implications of using bioenergy as an alternative energy source for sustainable environment in Ethiopia by Meseret Tesema Terfa, Assistant Professor at the School of Plant and Horticultural Science, Hawassa University.
The Graduation of Master students within Reservoir Engineering: Exploration, Evaluation and Environment
La Paz, Bolivia. 14.02.18
The EnPe secretariat visited Boliva and Universidad Major de San Andrés (UMSA) for the graduation of 32 students from the EnPe-supported master programme in Reservoir Engineering: Exploration, Evaluation and Environment.
The rector of UMSA Dr. Waldo Albarracín Sánchez held a speech to the students where he emphasized the importance of this education for Bolivia as a country. “As Master students with a degree in reservoir engineering you have an important role as protagonists in the development of your country. With this degree of specialization you will cater to one of Bolivia’s biggest needs within the energy sector.”
Salvador Yamil Limachi Limachi
Salvador is a graduate student within reservoir engineering and has a bachelor in petroleum engineering. Salvador and two other students from UMSA participated in a competition hosted by European Association of Geoscientists and Engineers (EAGE) and made it all the way to the finals! They competed against among others The Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU). Due to visa issues the team had to withdraw and could unfortunately not make it to the finals in Denmark.
Salavdor would very much like to do a PhD, but at the moment he has to focus on supporting his family. Nevertheless, he is very appreciative of the support he has received from the reservoir engineering programme and his options have surely increased with his new master’s degree.
Shirley is a graduate student with a bachelor in geology. In Bolivia a bachelor degree takes five years and now with a master’s degree in reservoir engineering, she has seven years of higher education. She hopes to get a job as a teacher and a researcher in the Reservoir Engineering programme at UMSA, putting to use her skills and knowledge to educate a new generation of reservoir engineers in Boliva.
In a small classroom in a suburb of Maputo, a group of 15-year-old girls in identical school uniforms are listening to a passionate young engineer explain why they should pursue sciences and mathematics. The speaker, not many years older than they are, is wearing a dress and pink heels, paired with flawless makeup and painted nails. This is no coincidence. Not only does Ms Basse Vaz like to dress up, she also wants to make the point that there is room for femininity in science – a field largely thought of as man’s domain in Mozambique.
Ms Vaz, who has a degree in Environmental Engineering, admits she was not looking forward to the dress code she thought she would have to adopt as soon as she finished her undergraduate degree.
“As many women, I like to dress well and look beautiful. However, in Mozambique it is a common belief that sciences and engineering are masculine fields, and that women who enter these fields have to supress their femininity,” said Ms Vaz.
“I want to show the girls that it doesn’t have to be this way. And the fear of wearing clunky safety shoes should not be the reason they don’t consider science”.
Ms Vaz is currently working in a management position at an environmental consulting company, while doing a Master in Petroleum Engineering at Eduardo Mondlane University (UEM). Her MSc is one of two degrees at UEM that receives financial and academic support from the EnPe programme. As a condition under EnPe, gender equality must be incorporated into all project activities. In most cases, this means increasing the number of women.
“All EnPe projects have to incorporate gender. A large part of my role is simply to create awareness of what they can do,” said Elisabeth Strand Vigtel, the national EnPe-coordinator in Norway.
“For example, finding female lecturers, selecting academic content written by female authors and actively recruiting female students. The EnPe programme can also provide funding for activities such as school visits.”
At UEM, they would like to increase their number of female students to achieve a more balanced student body. However, when the time comes to choose university studies, many female applicants do not have the right academic foundation. This is the reason the university has started to send female students like Ms Vaz to secondary schools.
“To get more qualified female applicants for our bachelor programmes in engineering and sciences, we need to reach the girls before they choose their subjects in school,” said the Director of UEM’s Center of Coordination of Gender Matters, Ms Gracinda André Mataveia.
Professor Manuel Luis Chenene, who is teaching two courses in the MSc programme, agrees. “In the class I am currently teaching, I only have one female student. The others have left the programme. This is not as dramatic as it sounds, because there were few women to begin with.”
“To grow the number of female students, we need more female applicants with the right academic background.”
Ms Mataveia, and her colleague, Ms Beatriz Manuel Chongo, explain that girls and women in Mozambique are underrepresented in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). While the reasons are many and multifaceted, they believe that a part of the problem is that girls do not receive encouragement.
“The culture is very strong, especially in rural communities. Many believe STEM-courses are only for boys, so the girls do not get any encouragement to pursue this from their surroundings,” said Chongo.
“More serious barriers include gender-based violence in schools and sexual harassment. At the university, we are working hard to create awareness and combat such issues on our own campus. We want UEM to be a good place for women to study.”
A new generation of female academics
The master’s programme in Petroleum Engineering has no female lecturers. There has not been anyone qualified to choose from. However, there is currently one EnPe-funded women doing her PhD at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) in Norway. At the completion of her PhD she will return to Maputo and work at UEM.
She will be a part of a new generation of female academics within petroleum engineering in Mozambique. And hopefully, in a few years, her classroom will also consist of female students that were once influenced to pursue science by an engineer in pink heels
Uganda’s oil and gas is now noticeably seen to be entering a phase of increasing and broader opportunities, as it transforms from having only exploration to having new exploration.
Preparation of already discovered oil fields for production is important come 2020, as anticipated by the Ugandan Government. A number of activities are taking place, infrastructure is being put in place for both commercialization of oil and gas resources to facilitate development. Facilities in the oil fields such as pipelines and refineries are some of the infrastructures that will enable commercializing the discovered oil and gas resources while construction of roads, an industrial park and a new international airport are being built in Kabale, Hoima district in Uganda to facilitate the development.
As the oil economy grows in Uganda, it is expected to bring huge opportunities. However, there is a greater need for insight into what the Government and its people are yet to benefit from and also lose from with this kind of development. Uganda shall definitely benefit from oil production, but will lose out in terms of jobs and human capital, capacity/skills development for Ugandans if the skilling gap is not closed. The shortage of international and local talent, if not addressed properly, can affect not only exploration and production, but eventually the financial viability of oil and gas projects in Uganda and across Africa.
Managing shortage of senior staff coupled with developing the skills level of local content will be the key to address this challenge. It will be vital to establish test centers for accreditation, support already existing institutions to train, test and internationally certify workers, support training of assessors and supervisors, and provide equipment for testing purposes.
Creating a work place where employees feel aligned and engaged in their roles and the organization is another highly effective way to retain staff and also skill Ugandans.
Development of skills through certification will enable Ugandans to meet the stringent requirement for employment in the sector. This is a vital aspect in capacity building. The future is now for skilling Ugandans in electrical installation, plumbing, electrical and electronic engineering, and welding skills to mention but a few.
There is a need to improve the knowledge and practical ability coupled with international certification for Ugandans if they are to be able to work in better positions on forth coming oil and gas projects, hence the future is now and it is time we start. The number of certified technicians who will be required for the Ugandan oil and gas sector is in the thousands and certification in the country is therefore a continued chain and it is necessary to close the gap.
EnPe is one of the Norwegian projects for capacity building and research within fields of energy and petroleum in Africa, especially in Uganda where students of Makerere University in Petroleum Department have been, and are still, benefiting from the capacity building and research, courtesy of the EnPe project. I therefore call upon others organizations/countries to join hands with EnPe for energy and petroleum capacity development and research in Uganda, and Africa at large, through partnerships with the Ugandan Government, Institutions, civil societies and NGOs. Now is the time to skill Uganda.
Mbenyi Derick is currently pursuing a Master in Petroleum Geosciences at Makerere University. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org