Fostering the next generation of Uganda’s engineers, people power is key to oil and gas industry  


Guillermo Salarich. Courtesy photo.

By Guillermo Salarich

Training and up skilling local people for success in Uganda’s nascent oil and gas industry can have a positive impact on the entire country, says Guillermo Salarich of ABB Energy Industries Africa region. 

August 19, 2021: Uganda’s expanding oil and gas (OGC) industry is being driven by two very different, but equally important types of capital: foreign direct investment and the humankind. The former is readily available, as evidenced by the $15bn in planned investment for OGC projects in the country. Less quantifiable is people power, yet fostering the next generation of Ugandan engineers is key to the sector’s success.

The O&G sector offers a multitude of opportunities to Ugandans, and these are not just limited to the field of engineering. The benefits of attracting and retaining local talent are obvious. Workers with a proven knowledge of Uganda’s culture are much more attuned to local market and customer requirements and are therefore much more likely to efficiently build long-term relationships with clients and suppliers.

Building ambition

The Ugandan government, oil and gas operators and companies like ABB all have a role to play in making sure local people aspire to leadership positions and have the skills to achieve success. Doing so will not only positively impact on Uganda’s economy; it will also directly and indirectly encourage investment and job creation in other high-potential infrastructure such as water, power and transport.

As the Ugandan President, HE Mr Museveni, emphasized in a recent article: “There is a need to have infrastructure developments such as roads, railways, electricity for both physical and social energy, including a large market that can consume in bulk to create wealth and jobs, and the OGC sector is part of this infrastructure… We are going to use the resources from oil to build durable sectors.”

By instilling ambition, pride and professionalism in the young people of Uganda, they will begin to realize that they are the future of their country and set the local workforce on the road to success.

ABB is invested in the next generation of talent in Uganda through internal and external training and up skilling programmes in technical proficiency, management and leadership, as well as soft skills. Today’s schoolchildren are the professionals of tomorrow, and ABB has signed memorandums of understanding with universities to support young people and aspiring engineers with their studies.

Technology, diversity and sustainability

ABB has a long history in Uganda and is fully committed to using its portfolio of digital, automation and virtualised engineering solutions to help the burgeoning oil and gas industry fulfill its potential.

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The company also recognizes its social responsibility to develop local talent in the countries where it operates and that doing so is a fundamental part of its success and makes it stronger as a company.

For this reason, ABB fully supports the efforts of the Petroleum Authority of Uganda (PAU) as well as other local organisations aimed at encouraging women and girls to aspire to key management roles. Actively promoting gender diversity in this way is critical to the long-term success of the industry.

Incentivising more women to join what is traditionally a male-dominated industry will help meet the increased demand for skilled labour and encourage the next generation of Ugandan girls to aspire to management positions, as well as boost long-term sector profitability, performance and innovation.

Ambition, talent, technology, sustainability, diversity: just some of the ingredients of success for the rapidly expanding oil and gas industry in Uganda. There has never been a better time for young people to join the nation’s energy revolution. ABB is proud to be part of that exciting journey.

The writer is a Business Development Manager, Energy Industries at ABB


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