ABB's support to educate a new generation of Zambian engineers in Africa has achieved some milestones over the past year, preparing students for future work in the country's power sector. ABB's involvement started at the end of 2015, when Ulrich Spiesshofer, CEO, ABB, visited the country and signed a memorandum of understanding with the University of Zambia (UNZA) in Lusaka. The Copperbelt University in Kitwe is also participating.
As part of the program, two students each year will undertake a two-year trainee program with ABB after completing their bachelor's degree. In early 2017, two graduates selected from 63 students, started their training with ABB. Once this is completed, they could teach at the university or work within the power sector.
"Providing skills and training for these future engineers underpins ABB's commitment to promoting technical education and supporting emerging economies in developing their power infrastructure" said Patrick Fragman, Managing Director of ABB's Grid Integration business unit, a part of the company's Power Grids division.
During the past year, the teaching curricula at both participating universities were refreshed to incorporate topics such as micro-grids, renewables and energy efficiency. This was coordinated by the UK organization, Education Partnerships in Africa (EPA). In addition, nine academic staff members have been trained to pass on this knowledge to other staff members, carried out by the German organization, Professional Training Solutions, which offers training expertise in Africa.
"Without a strong and competent engineering workforce, Zambia and, indeed Africa's, efforts to develop will not be sustainable," said Joseph Mutale, EPA Director and Associate Professor at the University of Manchester, UK, which is a patron of the EPA. "We believe good engineering skills are an essential ingredient that will underpin sustainable development. This will help to reduce poverty and improve the life chances of Zambian citizens, especially the poor."
Modernizing training equipment
The existing substation that is used for training at the UNZA will be upgraded during 2017 to include new technology from ABB such as disconnecting circuit breakers and a substation automation system. The substation was originally set up by the Copperbelt Energy Corporation, a Zambian energy supply company and partner in the education program.
"This high-quality learning environment with modern laboratory equipment will motivate staff and lead to better research," continues Mutale. "Students will benefit from a modern engineering education and a curriculum that is fit for purpose."
The project is co-financed by the German development finance institution DEG - Deutsche Investitions- und Entwicklungsgesellschaft mbH with funds from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development's develoPPP.de program targeting private companies that invest in developing and emerging countries.