Barnabas Ndyanabo Bwali has executed major engineering projects in the telecommunications industry in East Africa and beyond. Ismail Musa Ladu found out how his services earn him billions of Shillings.
Mr Barnabas Ndyanabo Bwali has made his mark in the telecommunications industry across borders. With creativity and resilience evidenced by the size and quality of multi-million dollar projects he has executed in the last 16 years, Mr Ndyanabo is a self-styled engineer in telecommunications.
Whatever he tries his hands at bring in the money, endearing the man born in rural Kagadi District to many high-profile suitors—corporations.
Driven by the adage, “You are your own limit; nothing will fail you except your thoughts and fears.” Mr Ndyanabo is a skilled Ugandan engineer offering his services beyond Uganda.
His journey started nearly four decades ago in Kagadi, a district in the Western region of Uganda.
In an e-mail interview, it emerged that he first saw light from a bulb when he was in his early teenage years.
He said: “I never saw an electricity bulb till I was 13 years in Senior One in 1991.”
Interestingly, he notes that to date, there is no electricity pole in the Sub-County of Bwikara in Kagadi District where he was born save for a few household generating power from solar panels.
“Although I was born where there was no power, that never stopped me from achieving my dream of becoming an electrical engineer, a dream I started harbouring when I was in primary school in 1984,” he said.
About 17 years later (July 2001), the journey that started with a dream became a reality when he completed his Electrical Engineering Degree, (majoring in Telecommunications) from Makerere University.
Armed with a degree, Mr Ndyanabo embraced a trait that, in most cases, is never taught at school—emotional intelligence. With combination of the two—emotional intelligence/quotient (EQ) and intelligence quotient (IQ), Mr Ndyanabo was propelled to handling sophisticated and mega engineering projects that would be handled by foreign expatriates.
“The secret is to find something that are passionate about,” he said, adding: “Draw a road map on how you will achieve that dream by identifying your career goals and develop a refined list of career options by assessing your interests, skills, abilities and values.”
“I have more than 16 years’ experience in delivering complex, multi-million-dollar telecom initiatives, with particular expertise in network roll outs and modernisation projects for corporations, such as Warid Telecom, Airtel, Vodacom, Tigo, Nokia, and Ericsson,” he said in an interview.
He continued: “As a certified project management professional, my speciality is developing and managing projects within time, budget and quality requirements.”
Over the last 16 or so years, Mr Ndyanabo has done high-value initiatives in the region.
Some of the highlights of his career include: spearheading an execution of more than $282 million (about Shs1 trillion) in Transformational and Network Expansion initiatives and CAPEX (acquire or upgrade of physical assets).
He headed the management of a $190 million (about Shs684 billion) project for the launch of a startup Greenfield mobile telecom operator Warid Telecom Uganda, which saw Warid Telecom (now Airtel) an Entrant of the Year Award at AfricaCom Awards in 2008.
He also spearheaded a countrywide Network Swap or modernisation for Vodacom Tanzania.
He also headed Green energy project that generated operating savings of 35 per cent. This was in addition to amplifying Ericsson business in Tanzania by $15m (about Shs54 billion) annually via strengthening customer relationship with Tigo.
How Ndyanabo has taken his services across borders
Over the years Mr Ndyanabo has managed projects amounting to billions and trillions of Shillings, sum of money that is two or even three time what is allocated to several government ministries, departments and agencies.
Currently he is plying his professional expertise with Bharti Airtel in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
He has been there since 2014 where he is leading operations in 20 countries.
Before that he worked with Ericsson in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania between the year 2013 – 2014. He also had a stint with Nokia in the same country between the year 2011 – 2013. He has also worked as project director where he was hired to lead and implement Vodacom Tanzania Telecom deployment initiatives and hybrid power engagements.
But before that he had a stint with Venture Communications Ltd as the Project Engineer between the year 2001 and 2005.
And then he was hired by Zain Uganda (now trading as Bharti Airtel) as transmission project manager- in 2005 – 2007.
Before leaving for Tanzania, he was the head of Projects, Warid Telecom Uganda Ltd. (now trading as Bharti Airtel Uganda) Kampala, Uganda between 2007 and 2011.
While with the same company he was selected by Abu Dhabi group owners of Warid to establish new operations in Ivory Coast.
The award he has won makes him a proud Ugandan and East African. With his skills set, he is globally competitive, something he wants his fellow country men and women to emulate.
The accolades which Tigo Tanzania won at an international mobile phone operator competition in South Africa in 2013 the best network improvement category which improved network quality were a as result of his role.
It was not long before his creativity and leadership saw him bag CEO Award for Project Excellence in 2009.
In 2008 during the AfricaCom Awards in Cape Town, his contribution saw the then Warid Telecom Uganda now Airtel Uganda, win two awards. For the new entrant of the Year award which Warid Telecom Uganda won then, the judges were looking for an operator or service provider that developed a unique business model to offer new services in a region.
Judges looked at both the company’s network deployment strategy and effective branding and marketing campaign for the launch of its services. The entrant had to have shown outstanding results following its launch in terms of customer uptake, revenues and growth prospects, something he spearheaded and implemented.
The Warid Telecom, now Airtel also won the best Customer Services Provider of the Year, thanks to Mr Ndyanabo’s role in all these.
His journey has been dotted with some setbacks.
“It has never been a walk in a park. You must invest time, focus and resources in bettering yourself,” Mr Ndyanabo said.
Competitors have kept him on his toes. “Competition has never been easier. Now you are up against the global village, meaning you have to stand out from the rest of the world. That won’t be handed over to you on a silver plate.”