“iPAD Rwanda has provided KGRTC with a unique opportunity to meet with key stakeholders and share KGRTC’s vision in providing competence development and technology transfer for sustainable development in Rwanda.”

Brian MakungoExclusive interview with Eng. Brian H M Makungo, Training Manager – Kafue Gorge Regional Training Centre (KGRTC) in Zambia – the Centre is a silver sponsor at the upcoming iPAD Rwanda Power & Infrastructure Forum in Kigali in November.

Please can you give us some background on KGRTC and your current activities in Africa?
Kafue Gorge Regional Training Centre (KGRTC) was established in 1989 by a resolution of SADC Ministers of Energy with support from the Swedish and Norwegian governments. The focus then was for KGRTC to offer training in hydropower and related engineering disciplines. Over the years, however, KGRTC has evolved into “The Learning and Development Centre of Choice in Energy Technologies.” As enshrined in the current vision with the broader mission being to “Provide a Learner-Centred Environment for the acquisition of Knowledge, Skills and Competencies in Energy Technologies.” KGRTC is now offering specialized training at Skills Award level of certification on 66 scheduled courses ranging from 2 to 13 weeks in duration. The five focus areas are Power Systems Operations and Management; Engineering Applications and Management; Engineering Operations and Maintenance; Safety, Health, Environment and Quality Assurance; and Corporate Governance, Management and Leadership Development.

2 x 20 capacity classrooms
2 x 20 capacity classrooms

KGRTC is a registered Trust in Zambia and is governed by a Board of Trustees drawn from Malawi, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. KGRTC has earned international reputation in the provision of quality training and excellent conference services. KGRTC is located in Namalundu, 100 km south of Zambia’s Capital City Lusaka, off the Chirundu road, in the vicinity of one of Zambia’s largest hydropower stations, Kafue Gorge Power Station owned by ZESCO Limited.

The Association of Power Utilities in Africa (APUA) has identified KGRTC as a Centre of Excellence for Hydropower Training for it Members utilities.

What projects that you are involved in at the moment in Africa are you most excited about? Any particular success stories you would like to share?
KGRTC is currently working on a very special project to conduct a “Training Course To Accelerate Small Hydropower Development (SHD) In African Union Member States”. The project is anchored under the Department of Infrastructure and Energy of the African Union Commission and is primarily focussing on building capacity targeting policy and incentive systems, financing structures and Contract Models, and benchmarking for best practice in hydropower development and use. This project is very exciting in that it is coming at a time when most countries in Africa are accelerating various infrastructure projects. For the power sector in particular, there seem to be an awakening in terms of developing infrastructure. Thus, premised on the number of current projects to increase generation capacities and power evacuation to the load centres, the project on capacity building and technology transfer is very key in line with the AU Agenda 2063 envisioned on a road map for “The Future we want for Africa”.

What makes KGRTC competitive in this market?
Training at KGRTC is a unique experience. The combination of core competences, reputation for quality training and strategic architecture in the area of energy technology are among the industry factors that anchor KGRTC’s competitive advantage. In addition KGRTC has forged partnerships with the Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM’s) such as ABB AB, Substation Automation Products (ABB SAP) of Sweden and Acier Profilé SBB Inc. of Canada. Other partnerships with the International Centre for Hydropower (ICH) of Norway and the Application Européenne De Technologies Et De Services (AETS) of France have been very key in implementing regional workshops on topical issues such as revenue protection management and prevention of vandalism to infrastructure. KGRTC has memorandum of understanding with the University of Zambia and the Copperbelt University to enhance staff exchange and use of facilities for mutual benefit. Furthermore, KGRTC is ISO 9001 Certified and has a Stakeholders’ Forum, which meets every year comprising representatives from power utilities, water sector, mining, academia, industry, and regulatory institutions.

Water hydraulic laboratory
Water hydraulic laboratory

KGRTC is accredited at Grade One level with the Technical Education, Vocational and Entrepreneurship Training Authority (TEVETA) in Zambia. KGRTC has state-of-the-art equipment in laboratories, conventional and computerised simulators for hydropower generation, the Centre enjoys unlimited access to technical facilities in Zambia for practice and demonstration. The training programmes are a balanced blend of recognized industrial experience, integration of current technological trends, as well as demonstration of research results in the core focus areas of power systems. It is this eclectic approach of incorporating industry into the classroom, thrives on the varied backgrounds of the participants entire electricity supply chain is employed to development the skills. The aspects of capacity building and technology transfer that KGRTC is conducting in partnership with industry stakeholders such ABB, SBB, ICH and AETS have given KGRTC a competitive advantage and new dimension to developing competences for sustainable infrastructure development.

What is your vision for the infrastructure sector?
At KGRTC we have seen the infrastructure sector as the driving force for economic development. Investment in the energy sector in particular, is a core focus area to ensure that the wheels of industry keep turning. And any investment in this sector must be matched with the requisite skills for sustainability. If you consider hydropower development at the scale of Nyabarongo Power Station in Rwanda, or Kafue Gorge Lower in Zambia, or the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), for instance, there is a whole spectrum of specialist skills needed ranging from environmental specialists, hydrologists, engineers, procurement specialists, geologists, and many others to ensure successful implementation of a hydropower project. It is much the same when you look at roads, railways, or airport projects. Thus KGRTC’s vision for the infrastructure sector in Africa and beyond is that there is continuous skills development, particularly for the power sector, which is the engine of development. Without the supply of adequate, reliable and stable power the benefits of industrial development will not be fully realised.

What is your vision for Rwanda?
KGRTC has been collaborating with Rwanda since 2005 in the area of capacity building and technology transfer. We have witnessed the firm strides that Rwanda has taken in the infrastructure sector. The setting-up of the Ministry of Infrastructure from inception set the intension of what the leaders want for the Country-sustainable development. The key intervention have been in development and certification of skilled personnel in the Hydropower Construction Management and Contracts, Industrial Attachment Program for accelerated electrification planning, design, construction and maintenance of medium and low voltage electricity distribution lines which was conducted between 2011 and 2012. Subsequent interventions, including on-site training in operation and maintenance as well as power plant operations and control have been consistent in this regard.

Why did you decide to partner with iPAD Rwanda?
iPAD Rwanda has provided KGRTC with a unique opportunity to meet with key stakeholders and share KGRTC’s vision in providing competence development and technology transfer for sustainable development in Rwanda. It is understandable that whenever there is competing needs for investment training and capacity building would be first to bear the brunt of reduced investment. Alas, the cost of incompetence could be astronomical given the risks involved in having untrained personnel operating key infrastructure such as power stations, electricity transmission and distribution networks-both at local and regional level through interconnected power pools. Thus iPAD Rwanda has presented a perfect platform for KGRTC to engage with key decision markers in order to ensure that the investments in the infrastructure sector are secured with competent human capital at all stages of development. This is Africa finding her local solutions to local challenges in a broader scheme of “thinking global and acting local”.

What will be your specific message at the event?
KGRTC is a fully functional facility that is well poised to facilitate for relevant specialised skills development and certification of competences in various areas of the infrastructure sector. KGRTC is currently implementing a Business Plan with a fourfold focus on building a 5 MW Hydropower Station, building a Power System Simulator, building a New Learning Centre, and building Renewable Energy Demonstration facilities for Wind, Solar and Biomass. Phase I of the KGRTC Project Business Development of KGRTC being implemented between 2013 and 2015, focusing on feasibility studies and design for all the four (4) core areas is expected to cost about USD3.5 Million and is fully funded by the Swedish Government through Sida. Phase II is estimated to cost about USD27 Million and scheduled to be implemented after Phase I.