Training switchgear University of Zambia

Central African Republic Energy technology group committed to university education

Sub-Saharan Africa

Zambia has launched large infrastructure programmes for power supply because the energy demand in the African country is increasing. However, there is a lack of skilled workers within the energy sector to implement the projects. As part of the develoPPP programme funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (Bundesministerium für wirtschaftliche Zusammenarbeit und Entwicklung, BMZ), Hitachi ABB Power Grids and DEG - Deutsche Investitions- und Entwicklungsgesellschaft mbH were involved in modernising the power engineering course at the University of Zambia (UNZA). The partners established training modules on innovative technologies in the field of energy supply and thus helped to increase the attractiveness of the engineering faculty.  With the qualification programme, Hitachi ABB Power Grids can qualify future specialists for its local investment projects and contribute to the further development of the energy sector with the transfer of know-how.

As in many developing countries, the energy supply infrastructure in Zambia is outdated and cannot meet the increasing demand by industry and private households. The Zambian government has therefore launched large infrastructure programmes for energy supply. However, potential investors such as electricity suppliers or grid operators have great difficulties in realising projects because there is a lack of qualified personnel to plan and implement projects, such as electricity transmission and distribution. At the same time, student numbers in the relevant engineering courses have been declining for years. Hitachi ABB Power Grids is also confronted with the problem of a shortage of skilled workers and, as part of the project, aimed to modernise engineering courses and make them more attractive to young people. If more school leavers are interested in the future-oriented professions, it will be easier for the company to recruit qualified personnel for its own projects in the future.

In order to fundamentally modernise the power engineering course at UNZA with the involvement of Copperbelt University (CBU) in northern Zambia, the project partners implemented the following measures, among others, from 2016 to 2019 with a total project volume of just over 1.3 million euros: 

  • Installation of a modern transformer station as a training facility on the UNZA premises.  

  • Further training of lecturers and technicians on modern standards in teaching. 

  • Qualification of master trainers for the topics of occupational health and safety, methodology and didactics. 

  • Practical training at the training switchgear.

  • Establishment of a trainee programme at Hitachi ABB Power Grids locations in Germany, Sweden, Finland, India and Switzerland. 

Hitachi ABB Power Grids contributed its technology expertise to the project together with other partners. DEG provided start-up financing and advised with experts on site. 

The modernisation of the degree programmes significantly improves graduates' chances on the labour market. As a hiring company, we benefit from the reduced training effort for new employees and the increasing number of qualified local professionals in the coming years.
Peter Lüns, Head of Sales GIS and Project Manager at Hitachi ABB Power Grids
Handover ceremony of the training switchgear to UNZA
Through the Hitachi ABB Power Grids project, lecturers and technicians were trained to modern standards. Photo: Hitachi ABB Power Grids

In future, young engineers will receive practical training at UNZA while using state-of-the-art technology for a wide range of applications such as engineering, project management, service, maintenance or commissioning. During the two-year programme, trainees at Hitachi ABB Power Grids pass through the areas of sales, project and product management, production and development. These qualification measures improve graduates' prospects on the local Zambian and international labour market. At the same time, the training effort for new employees at the hiring companies is reduced, with more qualified skilled workers available overall.

Development successes

Improving training standards

Qualification of skilled workers close to the labour market

Economic perspective for graduates

Business successes

Hitachi ABB Power Grids technologies further established in Southern Africa

More qualified professionals for future local engagement

develoPPP Classic

develoPPP Classic is aimed at medium-sized and large companies that want to invest sustainably in a developing or emerging country and expand their operational activities locally. Suitable projects receive technical and financial support of up to two million euros in public funding.

Hitachi ABB Power Grids

Hitachi ABB Power Grids is a leading global technology company employing around 36,000 people in 90 countries. Headquartered in Switzerland, the company works in the areas of sustainable mobility, smart cities, energy storage and data centres, serving utility, industrial and infrastructure customers along the entire value chain.

DEG – Deutsche Investitions- und Entwicklungsgesellschaft mbH

The KFW subsidiary specializes in the complex financing arrangements in developing and emerging markets and has extensive expertise in long-term investment financing. DEG finances and supports manufacturing companies, agribusinesses and companies in the infrastructure and financial sectors.

Peter Lüns Project Lead and Head of Sales GIS ABB Power Grids Germany AG
Ricarda Horst Senior Manager Deutsche Investitions- und Entwicklungsgesellschaft mbH