Uganda - A new business with an eye on the future
Forests and Climate - Committed to a beneficial environment for humans
In Uganda, as elsewhere, industrial and hazardous waste management is a crucial issue. In a project spearheaded by Jennifer Bangirana, a private company took up the challenge in 2013-2014. Total believed in their vision, leading to a partnership with wide-reaching impact.
After 15 years in the downstream oil & gas industry, civil engineer Jennifer Bangirana wanted to make a greater contribution from an environmental and community point of view. With a degree in environmental engineering and sustainable development from Imperial College in London, she returned to Uganda to head up the Ugandan-owned Green Albertine Ltd, which provided waste treatment and disposal services.
In 2012, the country had no industrial and hazardous waste management facilities. Quickly, it became clear the industry required specialized skills and high investment. In 2013, this led Green Albertine to join forces with the South African company EnviroServ Waste Management Ltd. – thus founding Enviroserv, a locally managed and staffed entity backed by a parent company with 35 years of technical expertise.
Involved in the project from inception, Jennifer Bangirana became Country Manager. Her approach was clear: “Such projects can only be successful if they meet their economic objectives, positively impact surrounding communities, and protect the environment for future generations.”
Local, compliant, and capable
At the same time, Total was looking for compliant facilities to manage waste from its Exploration & Production (E&P) activities in northwest Uganda. Vital to operations, waste management must align with Total’s sustainable development commitments.Enviroserv fit this bill – it was local, it was compliant, and it was capable. “Total has a strong reputation as a responsible company,” Jennifer explains. “Having them trust our ability to ensure sustainable development helped us get established in the market.” As a result, in 2014, Uganda’s first waste treatment and disposal facility was built in the district of Hoima, in Nyamasonga and Kabakete villages. The state-of-the-art facility has a waste water treatment plant, a laboratory for analyzing waste to determine needed treatment, a hazardous landfill, and ancillary services. This was only the first step in an ambitious project announcing a bright future for local development and employment, impacting not only the immediate area, but also the country and the region.
Believing in a vision
“Total believed in our vision and worked closely with us to develop skills,” says Jennifer Bangirana. She and her team were able to ensure that economic, social and environmental considerations were well catered for during construction and operations with the help of Total tools and cross-functional teams.
When operations reached their peak in 2014 and 2015, a total of 50 employees were on board—all Ugandan nationals, with the exception of one specialist brought in to boost the skills of the lab workers. Enviroserv also employs local laborers, on site and in remote field locations, as well as local suppliers and goods. Enviroserv now has a flexible, modular waste management model that can meet the market’s requirements.
Beyond the landfill
From the beginning, Enviroserv went beyond investing in capabilities and capacity. Even before the facility was built, they held a monthly community forum to identify local needs. In this way, it came to their attention that boreholes supplying water in this arid region were in need of repair. Similarly, village leaders mentioned that the school lacked supplies. Enviroserv provided in both cases, just as they helped a nearby school build much-needed latrines. “This was a way for us to introduce ourselves to the community. We were able to address their most pressing concerns. As a result of this regular interaction, the project has been embraced.” Jennifer Bangirana said.
Raising awareness about the benefits of responsible waste management is key to the future. As the Ugandan authorities work to establish better regulations in this area, they look to Enviroserv for best practices. “Our facility is open to the public, to universities, and to authorities from Uganda and abroad.” This is a fine example of a Total partnership with wide-reaching impact. Prior to this project, Uganda had no hazardous waste treatment and disposal facilities. Now, the country has a locally staffed and managed facility that is the only one of its kind in the region. The hope is to expand its reach to neighboring countries.