Uganda (Xinhua) -- Construction work was always her
childhood dream. Three years back, straight after university,
Sumaya Manzi got a placing at a Chinese construction firm,
Having studied construction management
at university, she was placed by the Chinese engineers at the
laboratory section, a key post for the construction of the
1.4-billion-U.S. dollar Karuma Hydro Power Plant along River
Nile in northern Uganda.
China is financing construction of the
hydro power plant, the first underground power plant in the east
African region. When completed, the plant is expected to provide
over 600MW of electricity.
Under the watchful eye of her Chinese
supervisors, Manzi is in charge of material engineering.
“I deal with concrete materials,
cement, aggregate, fly ash. We oversee the quality of the
materials used to produce the concrete. Everything goes
through me here at the laboratory,” she told Xinhua in a
“I am learning a lot from the Chinese
engineers. I started as a graduate, I never had a lot of
field skills. I am now getting to know things on the ground,
not on paper,” she said.
Manzi is optimistic that with a few
more years of experience in the sector, she will be able to work
on the construction of any hydropower plant.
She is not alone, many engineers are
gaining skills from their Chinese counterparts.
Pittson Omar is a civil engineer and
does draftsman’s work at the construction site of Karuma Hydro
Working under the supervision of
Chinese engineers, Omar does design work at the dam.
“I do construction drawings and follow
them to see work progress on the site. I am learning a lot
from the Chinese. In Uganda, we were used to square or
rectangular structures, but now we have to adjust to
circular ones,” he said.
Omar said they are gaining skills in
adjusting to different kinds of hydro power plant construction
standards, from British, American to Chinese.
“We teach them basic skills like
drawings and calculations so that they can fully understand
our drawings,” Shi Yayuan, one of the Chinese designers of
Karuma power plant said.
“Hydro power plant construction is
very complicated, you need to see the geology situation. So
we need to often go to the site to see how best the
structure can be designed,” Shi said.
A few hundred kilometers away, another
Chinese company—China International Water and Electric
Corporation—is constructing a 568 million dollar project dubbed
Isimba Power Plant Project, which will help ease the severe
power shortages in Uganda and accelerate the development of
Wang Yongtian, head of construction at
Isimba Hydro Power Plant told Xinhua that one of their
priorities is to build the capacity of local engineers in
constructing hydro power plants.
“We will try to hire more locals to
work in our project. We also need our local engineers to
nurture skills in construct a hydropower plant in Uganda,”
He said the project is soon entering
the mechanical and electrical phase which will be an opportunity
for the local engineers to learn.
“I have proposed to the ministry of
energy to invite more Ugandan engineers to come on site to
learn when we are doing the installation,” he said.
He also said some senior engineers
would have chances to go to China for more skilling in hydro
power plant construction.