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I vowed to be my own boss

By Patrick Kagenda

Interview with Dickens Kamugisha Chief Executive at Africa Institute for Energy Governance (AFIEGO))

What is your typical day?

I wake up at 5am; exercise for 20 minutes, and by 5:40 I am off to office. Most of the time I am on my computer working apart from when I have meetings with staff, some organisations and donors. At around 6pm I leave office.

If it is a Monday or a Wednesday I go home to be with my family and when it is a Tuesday I go to play football with my colleagues, while on Thursday I go for running along the Northern by pass.

What challenges do you face as a manager?

Managing people; I head an organisation full of graduates who you have to take in a certain direction to achieve the objectives of the organisation yet they may have opinions that may be different. It is a very big challenge for all the staff to conform to the same standards and use their different views and experiences to move forward. Secondly, being a Non Governmental Organisation(NGO) which depends on funding especially on project basis, sometimes we get funding for one year or for a project of certain months and once the project ends, the money also dries up so you have to keep on fundraising every other day. Also related to project funding, you don’t have liberty to do everything you want. You have to agree with the donors what you have to produce and the kind of activity and sometimes once you have agreed on the activity, circumstances change and you find you have to change the activity which calls for going back to the donors to convince them about the change of activity.

How are you resolving these challenges?

On funding, we have tried to discuss with our donors and since 2009, the donors have gained confidence in us. On the part of staffing, we have been able to recruit people who are more experienced who can at least produce on their own, write proposals and fund-raise money for the organisation. This has eased my workload.

What new thing is coming at AFIEGO?

We are running the extractive governance programme, electricity democracy programme and the energy efficiency and climate change programme. All these are programmes where you find the international community and the government of Uganda interested and committing billions of money. Some 10,000 people have approached us complaining about electricity tariffs and we are in the process of serving notice of intention to sue to Umeme, the Attorney General of government and to the Electricity Regulatory Authority (ERA).

What is the future of the Oil sector in Uganda considering the fact that information flow about oil is secret?

The future of oil in Uganda generally is not that good. The companies are spending a lot of money to explore for oil and the government has been strategic in terms of the way it has been investing and the petroleum department has created a conducive environment for the companies to come here to do the work. But transparency in the management of the industry and ensuring that everybody involved is accountable to the citizens is lacking. There is secrecy around license allocation and production sharing agreements of the discovered oil. CSO and the citizens don’t know anything that is in these agreements. We have reached a level of beginning production, (but) nobody knows whether we are building a refinery or a pipeline. We don’t know how much money is involved, who is involved; we don’t know who is going to own those infrastructure and we don’t know whether Ugandans are going to be getting the oil in terms of giving them affirmative action as citizens. As long as the processes are not transparent enough, you`ll find people are going to remain very suspicious even when the companies and the government are doing very well. Uganda was recently rated by the Transparency International as the most corrupt country in the world.

What is your style to management and who are your mentors to successful management practice?

My style and my mentor is myself. Right from my year one when I was at the faculty of law at Makerere University, I told myself that I will never be employed by anybody, that I should create my own job and I should become my own boss. It all started in 2001.


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