Robert Byaruhanga is a Tullow Group Scholarship Scheme (TGSS) Alumnus 2012/13.
He successfully completed a MSc in Oil and Gas Management at Coventry University. While in the UK, he also attended a certification course in Health Safety and Environmental Management accredited by the Institute of Occupational Hazards and Safety.
Excited when he got the news that he was among the successful applicants, he immediately started envisioning how life would be in the UK, meeting people from different countries and building long-lasting networks.
“The course I was given met my expectations. I had always yearned for an opportunity to engage myself in the oil and gas sector. Though I had no background in oil and gas, my personal belief of ‘I can achieve anything as long as I am committed,’ propelled me to success” says Robert.
The course was an uphill battle, but Robert and his former schoolmates from Tanzania, Kenya, Nigeria, and Fuji worked together to attain the best they wanted from the university.
How Robert found life in the UK, “The weather was a bit challenging, but I would dress up warmly. However, I really enjoyed the summer bit of it.” He says
Upon returning to Uganda, he decided not to go job hunting, but instead he started up his own business. Together with his fellow graduates from disciplines like Law, Engineering and Petroleum Economics asked the question “How best can we make ourselves relevant to the oil and gas sector?” Starting their own consulting firm was the answer.
“Our starting point was educating communities with information about capacity building in the mining industry. We started signing MOU’s with universities where we act as consultants and offer short courses in oil and gas.” Robert explained.
He says their consulting firm has been hired by several international organisations which include; Action Aid, USAID and China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) to carryout for them research.
Apart from engaging with international organisations, Robert has tried to make his impact felt in Bunyoro sub-region where he originally comes from. He partnered with a local community based organisation with the aim of minimising the impact of oil mining activities. He did this by starting a tree planting project. The project currently runs in the sub-counties of Kyegegwa and Kyangwale, both of which are active in mining.
Robert described the opportunity given to him by British Council and Tullow as ‘life changing’. He confessed that before going to the UK, he didn’t believe he could be shortlisted for a job in the oil sector. He added “After acquiring my education and certifications from the UK, I have become more relevant to the oil and gas sector.”
Robert’s academic journey continues to grow. Now a three star consultant he was awarded a scholarship by the Australian government to study a course in sustainable mining in Zambia.
When asked what more could be done on the home front to develop the sector, Robert advised that Uganda’s government should speed up the production process in order for the oil firms, communities and country to benefit.
He wrapped up the interview with a word of advice to future Tullow Scholars “Follow your dreams and pursue your passion. For when you attain educational skills from a first class country, you will never go wrong and you will always be on demand.”