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Skilling Uganda: The future is now

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.

Photo of Mbenyi Derick
Mbenyi Derick is currently purusing a Master in Petroleum Geosciences at Makerere University

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

Enpe Project



My PhD-experience at NTNU, by Amos Veremachi

Photo of Amos Veremachi
Amos Veremachi is a PhD student at Eduardo Mondlane University in Maputo, Mozambique

My research work was integrated in a collaborative research project in Renewable Energies, in particular in Solar Thermal Energy, a project that was funded by Norwegian government.

Throughout my studies I went to NTNU several times. These include short stay visits that lasted from one to three months of internship and a one year PhD Sandwich program under quota scheme. From accommodation arrangement to my entrance at Norway, I understood how seriously they care about the visitor’s well being.

My Supervisor gave me a friendly and supportive treatment! I got to his office whenever I need to talk to him. Sometimes, when I was not sure he is around, I asked for an appointment and always managed to have time to receive me. He gave me the freedom to plan and propose the material needed for acquisition (this included laboratory hardware and text books) and discuss with him afterwards. Besides his busy schedule with teaching duties and other research activities, my supervisor visited the test rig during the experiments twice a day. First in the morning when arriving from home so that he could have information on the tasks planned for that day and foresee the eventual potential difficulties during the experiment, then at the end of the day when he was about to leave the Campus. I found his support valuable and very encouraging. He treated me as equal. That helped me to build self-confidence and self-esteem.

I found the learning environment at NTNU very friendly, supportive and transformative.

The people dealing with finances of the project also were very flexible and supportive. In most of the cases, material acquisition was made with little delays, if any! The laboratory staff provided a favorable environment for me to perform the laboratory experiments. Every day I had two technicians (one Mechanical Engineer the other Electronics Engineering) to help me with anything I couldn’t do by myself, either by the security reasons all by the complexity involved.

One of the most important aspects is that, I was held responsible for planning and executing my experiments after the supervisor’s approval. Then preliminary results were reported to him in weekly briefings. The procedure helped me to keep up to date with the planned tasks. It helped me to move from being an executor to that who thinks how things must be done and why it should be done in certain way. So, it was wonderful to have access and work in a such industrial laboratory! And most importantly with people that have a long experience along wide range of areas of expertise.

With the course works I attended, the trend was the same. I had the lecturers and assistant’s of lecturers to whom I could rely on and contact when I had difficulties in doing assignments. These are prepared to make one have a meaningful learning because they are based on real world problems.

As a visiting student, one’s task is not only to deal with academic issues but also when there is any extra-academic activity either organized by the International office or by the Department I was integrated in, I was invited to attend. This made me feel integrated within a big family!

EnPe Project

Capacity 5