principal speech


It gives me great pleasure to welcome you all to Uganda Petroleum Institute, Kigumba (UPIK), the Center of Excellence for Oil and Gas Training.

Let me in a special way take this unique opportunity to give a warm welcome to our Chief Guest, the First Lady and Hon. Minister of Education and Sports, Mama Janet Kataha Museveni. You, together with His Excellency the President of the Republic of Uganda have been among the Institute’s staunchest pillars since its inception in 2009-right from conception to its existence. You were there designing its foundation up to positing its future. Undoubtedly, this Institute has benefited greatly from your vision and generosity.

Our Chief Guest, today is a day of great celebration. A day for the first time has allowed us to reminisce momentarily and collectively with our Graduands. That is why I feel extremely honored to be the one to address this first Congregation of the Institute’s Graduation Ceremony. Let me therefore begin by saying: Congratulations to You, the Pioneer Graduands! You braved the fear of the unknown territory of Oil and Gas and today, you are victorious. I request the Congregation to give you a round of applause because I know it has been quite an Odyssey.

You undertook and subsequently went through a tedious academic and professional journey; one that could only be successfully accomplished through hard work, diligence and determination. The two-year Petroleum Engineering/Studies curriculum is a very intensive and elaborate curriculum that covers both the core Oil & Gas technologies as well as the peripheral but stringent concepts required by the Health Safety and Environment (HSE) Culture of this Sector. But despite the challenges of this erstwhile unfamiliar territory, you did it anyway! That’s why we are so proud of you and on behalf of this Institute and the entire Congregation, let me say to you all: Well done, and Congratulations!

Special thanks also go to your hard working parents for their moral support and generous contributions made to you during the training. The same gratitude goes to the lecturers who despite the odds, trained you with passion and compassion. All I can say is, thank you!

Our Chief Guest, today’s Graduation Ceremony is the first ever since this Institute was established in 2009. A total of 141 Graduands will be awarded the Uganda Diploma in Petroleum Studies/Engineering. Of these 124, are male and only 17 are female. The low number of female student’s raises key signals for the need for a more supportive form of affirmative action for females wishing to join Technical/Vocational training Institution, like this one, to enable them realize their full potential and dreams.

Our Chief Guest, Ladies and Gentlemen, the Vision of UPIK is “to be a Regional Center of Excellence for Oil and Gas Training”. In an effort to realize this Vision, the Institute has embarked on an ambitious plan based on the three (3) Fundamental Principles of Quality: Quality Infrastructure and Equipment, Quality Curriculum and Quality Instruction.

In this respect, I am indeed pleased to report that with the support of the Government of Uganda and Development Partners, UPIK has been able to put up some basic operational facilities and to acquire high-quality equipment for training.

I can now assert with pride that we now operate inside our own Campus with a modern Administration Block, which our Chief Guest officially commissioned this morning. We will forever be indebted to our sister institutions: the Uganda Cooperative College, Kigumba and the Uganda Technical College Kyema who hosted us during the gestation period of this Institute. The Administration Block is temporarily hosting our Library, Computer Laboratories and Classrooms. The construction of the student’s accommodation facilities is underway and will be followed by that for Classrooms, a Library, Information Center, a Health Center and later, that for the Sports Complex. We are hopeful that the construction of other infrastructure facilities such as Workshops together with the procurement of targeted equipment will commence soon under the Albertine Region Sustainable Development Project (ARSDP). The project activities however, need to be expedited as time is not on our side, given the timeframe for First Oil.

I can also affirm that the Institute currently has adequate equipment to support training for: Welding & Fabrication, Pipe Fitting and the Electrical/Electronic-based programmes. However, we require additional equipment to operationalize the new Operations and Maintenance programmes. Besides, more practical training facilities and equipment specific to the Oil and Gas industry technologies shall be required. It’s also our prayer that the industry players will be kind enough to offer our students the much needed on-the-job training and orientation even before the Oil and Gas industry becomes fully operational.

Our Chief Guest and First Lady, I am exceedingly happy to report that the funds for the procurement of the Drilling Simulator have been received and the procurement process is underway. Our appreciation goes to H.E the President of Uganda for the pledge and his efforts in ensuring that we get this training equipment. In addition, Tullow Oil Plc. donated to us the Eagle Drilling Rig, one of the rigs that was used for drilling the very first wells in the country. The Rig and the Simulator will enhance the practical aspects of training and complement on-the-job training and return to industry secondments.

Our Chief Guest and First Lady, UPIK currently runs 3, two-year diploma programs i.e. the Diploma in Petroleum Engineering, the Diploma in Downstream Petroleum Operations and the Diploma in Upstream Petroleum Operations. The curricula for these two-year programmes is already under review by our Twinning Institution- the French Petroleum Institute (IFP Training). The objective of this review is to enable the Institute to offer dual certifications i.e. under the National Council of Education and International certification. However, all short courses will adapt curricula whose content and delivery modes meet Uganda industry needs but at the same time maintain international certification requirements.

On this note, I am happy to announce that Uganda Petroleum Institute, Kigumba was granted approval as a Centre to offer City & Guilds Qualifications on the 21 November 2018 and we were allocated the Centre Number: 851035. Our accreditation allows us to offer 22 City & Guilds programs from level 1 to level 3). We are also proud to be the first Public Institute to attain C&G accreditation.

Suffice it to say that the approval process involved a lot of hard work and commitment from staff and concerted efforts with stakeholders. I am proud of my staff and I congratulate them upon this maiden achievement. We are now working towards becoming an awarding Center for: the Offshore Petroleum Industry Training Organization (OPITO); the Engineering Construction Training Industry Board (ECTIB); and the Certification offered by our Twining Partner the French Petroleum Institute (IFP-Training).

Our Chief Guest and First Lady, as already highlighted above, under the ARSDP the Institute procured the services of a twinning partner, IFP-Training of France to: support the Institute towards achieving international accreditation; develop a Strategic and Operational Plan; develop an Organizational Structure for UPIK, and give us support towards curriculum adaptation for the following 5 targeted programs: Upstream Operations; Downstream Operations; Instrumentation; Mechanical and Electrical Maintenance. They will also support us in the Training of Trainers and in defining the specifications for the workshop and equipment required. I am therefore happy to report that IFP-Training has already defined the scope of the Workshops together with the equipment and training materials that will be required. What is now left is for our local Engineering Firm to finalize the engineering designs which will underpin the procurement of a Building Contractor.

Our Chief Guest, the nature of training for our students demands highly skilled and experienced manpower. The Institute currently has nineteen lecturers; eight (8) lecturers are employed on fulltime time basis and 11 on contract basis. These lecturers possess good academic qualifications and have received training in Oil and Gas industry operations and training from Stavanger, Norway and from Trinidad and Tobago. The majority are fully qualified by City & Guilds as Competency-Based Trainers (CBT) and Assessors. However, most of them lack hands-on, practical workplace experience. To address this, Government under the ARSDP is planning to mobilize expatriate Instructors from IFP-training for a period of 1-2 years. These Instructors will not only deliver training to students directly, but will also train our instructors and provide them with on-the-job training placements in industry and in their chosen field of instruction. Whereas this looks to be easy, the key challenge is how to re-attract and retain them at UPIK given that we shall be competing head-on for their talent with Industry. I therefore appeal to Government to consider giving the Institute a special status like it did to the East African Civil Aviation Academy- EACAA (Soroti) and other similar institutions in Uganda. It’s no doubt that proper remuneration is key in retaining and motivating staff to work, especially in remote settings.

Our Chief Guest, one point worth mentioning is that UPIK has been designated as a Centre of Excellence in Oil and Gas Training by the Northern Corridor Integration Project (NCIP). This is a welcome development as it provides us with an opportunity to promote our capabilities to deliver quality training to the youth across the entire East African Region. As a Centre of Excellence in Oil and Gas Training for the Region, UPIK has already implemented the directives by the Heads of States from Member States of the NCIP. Among their directives, is one that: All students from Member States shall pay the same tuition and non-tuition fees as their Ugandan counterparts.

We are also working very closely with the Ministry of Labour, Gender and Social Development for a Roll-out Plan and Implementation of Quality Apprenticeships Program in the Oil and Gas Sector under the Green Jobs Programme. The programme is aimed at offering apprenticeships through the work-based (on-the-job) and off-the-job Schemes. UPIK is privileged to have been selected as a Centre for the assessment of the beneficiaries of this Project.

Our Chief Guest and First Lady, the above undertakings require commitment and dedicated flow of funding from Government and the key Stakeholders. Whereas, we have been relying on financial support from Government in form of subventions and support from the ARSDP, these financing channels shall not be sufficient to meet the demands of the Centre of Excellence in the delivery of quality training to an increasing numbers of students projected in the near future.

In order to mitigate the effects of the above challenge, the Governing Council recently approved some alternative funding options for UPIK including: the establishment of the UPIK Holdings Limited which shall be the business arm of the Institute; undertaking joint venture bids for opportunities in the oil and gas sector; applying for grants offered for technical training; and the introduction of a private sponsorship scheme. Management has taken this up and we call for support from all Stakeholders including our mother Ministry and the Oil and Gas Companies.

Our Chief Guest, we are very proud of our students. We have in the past made minimal efforts to promote the Institute to the public because of our limited capacity. However, our students have been excellent ambassadors in the industries where they were attached for training. I am happy to inform you our Chief Guest that most of these students have been retained at the places where they did their internships. Others have found full employment in the Oil and Gas and related Service Companies both locally and abroad. Others have chosen to pursue related studies at graduate and post graduate levels locally and abroad.

I therefore take this opportunity, once again, to congratulate all the Graduands and thank them for blazing the path of industry standards accentuated by a Health Safety and Environment (HSE) culture, quality service and discipline. You have a unique opportunity to be the pioneers of a new industry in this country; you have the unique opportunity to be champions of HSE and Quality Systems at a time when Uganda is having accelerated industrial growth; you have a unique opportunity to be entrepreneurs at a time when the country has acquired some basic infrastructure to facilitate investment. The Bible, in Lamentations 3:27 says: “It is good for a man that he bears the yoke in his youth.” And in Ephesians 4:29 it says: “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion; that it may give grace to those who hear.”

My last word to the Graduands, is that today marks an important day in your lives–yet, it is only the beginning of the journey. To get to this point is an important step in itself for which I commend you. The aptitudes that got you here–passion, commitment, tenacity, and an open mind to learn–will be needed throughout your lives. Please nurture them! They will be even more needed than they have been up to now. I also want to encourage you to continue with your quest for knowledge and to discover your own unique ways to contribute to our Society.

The country and your parents have done what they could to support you. It’s now your turn to show your gratitude by utilizing the knowledge and skills you acquired from here to create the much-needed wealth and transformation of your Mother Land. I urge you to stay focused, work hard and continue to seek knowledge. The petroleum industry is an industry ever in motion. Prepare to embrace and manage change-it is the only constant in life. You and those coming after you shall be the future leaders of this Nation.

Our Chief Guest, allow me thank and acknowledge the people and institutions that have played an important role in our students’ learning achievements:

  • The Governing Council for their unwavering commitment and support in achieving the best teaching and learning opportunities and environment for our trainees. 
  • Development Partners especially the World Bank, DFID, IFP-Training, for their support.
  • The Petroleum Authority of Uganda and Tullow Oil Plc. for the Eagle Drilling Rig donation. 
  • The Former Management Team, led by Professor Kwesiga for facing the mammoth task of starting this Institute from zero.  May you all stand up for a special recognition! 
  • The Uganda Cooperative College-Kigumba for supporting us during our formative stages and for being such good neighbours and hosts.
  • The Organizing Committee for this function, spearheaded by the Academic Registrar, for preparing this long-awaited graduation function.
  • Members of the Diplomatic Corps and Religious Leaders for gracing this occasion.
  • The community for being good hosts and supportive.
  • To all Institute staff–thank you ALL, for your dedication, drive, fortitude and desire to deliver the very best to our trainees. All my very best wishes for a well-deserved and wonderful holiday season.  
First Lady and Honorable Minister of Education, once again allow me to thank you in a special way for accepting to be our Chief Guest at this ceremony and for loving UPIK. I wish you a long life and many blessings so that you may continue to guide us in our efforts to transform knowledge into practical reality.

Ladies and gentlemen, UPIK is committed to making a significant contribution towards national development by, among other things, producing graduates who can meet the tough challenges of the petroleum industry.

To parents, I join you to celebrate your achievement in educating the youth of this nation; yes, they are adults now but because they look up to you, continue to prompt them to reach out greater heights. Encourage them all the time.

I wish you all a wonderful day as you celebrate the Graduation of our students.

Thank you all.

Service with Excellence!

Bernard Ongodia