Ahmed Ojeifo chose to enroll on an online Masters in Project Management course at the University of Roehampton, London Online to develop the skills he would need to begin tackling the issues related to power shortages faced by local communities in Nigeria.
The mechanical engineering graduate is currently living in Germany and working in production, planning and quality control at hydropower company Wasserkraft Volk AG (WKV). WKV is one of the leading global manufacturers of small and medium sized hydro power plants, operating several hundred plants in over 50 countries worldwide.
Ahmed is originally from Esan in Edo State, Nigeria. “Esan is an area where power supply is an immediate problem, as it is in many developing countries. This has a profound effect on economic and living conditions, but it also affects the academic life of some of the youngest members of the community,” he explains.
Recognising that the hydropower projects he was working on at WKV could help address the problems faced by these communities; Ahmed became determined to return to his hometown in the future to implement similar projects. In order to better support his community, he realised he first needed to develop his skills and understand how to apply them in the context of his community in Nigeria, so he embraced the opportunity to study online: “Project management is all about properly managing people and resources, and this knowledge would form the foundation of the work I would be doing in helping my own community.”
Immediately after beginning his course at Roehampton Online, Ahmed was able translate what he had learnt to his professional role. “I saw a difference straight away, and so did my employer,” he said. “It had a huge impact on the way I interacted with colleagues and how I was able to relate to them.”
He has also benefitted from the online discussions with his peers. “The experience gives you the opportunity to meet people from all walks of life and from different professional and cultural backgrounds. You are able to learn from people professionally, as well as gain valuable insight into other cultures. In my ‘Managing Projects’ module, my classmates shared their experiences about how projects are managed in their various countries and cultures. I now have a much better understanding of how to manage teams made up of different ethnic groups, for example, due to some of the insights I gained from one of my peers in Jamaica.”
Ahmed formed part of the first cohort of students to graduate from a Roehampton online programme in February 2016.
The ceremony saw students from all over the world come together to celebrate at the Royal Festival Hall in London. Since graduating, Ahmed continues to think about the ways he can bring about positive change in his local Nigerian community, drawing on the knowledge he has gained from his course and work in Germany.
Specifically, he hopes that the introduction of more hydropower plants in Nigeria will benefit the poorest communities in ways beyond merely providing power. “In urban areas of Nigeria such as Lagos, people have access to modern facilities and communication tools, meaning it is easier to learn and educate yourself. But for those living in rural areas, where electricity and power supply can be problematic, it is difficult for people to learn online. Reversing this problem would not only boost the area economically and improve living standards, it would open doors in terms of education, a huge advantage to rural communities across Nigeria.
“Africa is a developing continent. Most of the countries are developing countries. Therefore there should be projects happening all the time – developing education, technology, power and many other industries. Demand for project managers in Africa is only going to rise, and the key to meeting this demand is education.”
Ahmed is thrilled with the progress he has made since completing his programme, and plans to continue to apply his learning to leverage the best possible results through his project management skills. “Learning is a continuous process. You have to continue to develop yourself and your knowledge throughout your life, otherwise you will fall behind.”