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Saturday, February 4, 2023

Profile: Breaking Gendered Myth about Civil Engineering-Meet the CEO of Uppa Ghana limited

Nancy Anataba Kyorku Dzikunu-Bansah is a Civil Engineer with Geotechnical Engineering as her specialty. 

Nancy Anataba Kyorku Dzikunu-Bansah is a Civil Engineer who is specialized in Geotechnical Engineering. She holds a BSc degree in Civil Engineering from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST).

Born in 1985, in Kumasi in the Ashanti Region, the native of Nandom Ko, in the Upper West region’s childhood dream was to become a medical doctor in the Ghana Armed Forces.

“I sang this song till the point where I was filling my admission forms to the university”.

But her dad, an entomologist prompted her about her strong mathematics background adding she would excel in a maths related course.

“I had been following an uncle who was a civil engineer to the field and the only course I could think of was civil engineering”, she told ZAMI Reports.

Her first salaried job was an Instructor with the Civil Engineering Department of the Bolgatanga Polytechnic in the Upper East region of Ghana.

Nancy taught geology and soil related courses for almost three years while serving as the Department’s representative to the institution’s Academic Board.

She also took up the leadership role as the General Secretary and Vice Chairperson of the Bolgatanga chapter of the Polytechnic Teachers Association of Ghana.

Based on the experience and lessons learnt, the civil engineer developed interest in the area of soil and rock. This interest informed her decision to pursue a Master’s degree in Petroleum Geoscience at the University of Ghana, Legon.

In 2015, she started a civil engineering firm called Uppa Ghana limited with particular focus in consultancy services in construction and civil engineering and project management.

With no funds to the company’s name, she started working from home.

“We got our first contract to do the ground investigation for an irrigation dam project in the upper east region of Ghana. I was so excited, I went to work straight away. I did my field work and finished before the timelines I set for myself”.

Nancy Anataba Kyorku Dzikunu-Bansah and her team conducting field density (sand replacement method) in 2018. Photo courtesy Anataba Kyorku Dzikunu-Bansah.

But Nancy was in for the shock of her life.

“The laboratory results were not ready when it was time to deliver my report. I informed the client about it and his response was “Nancy, I do not care whatever challenges you are going through, all I want is the report delivered according to the time schedule you gave to me”.

“I was stupefied! That was when I decided to add laboratory services to what the company does”.

Uppa Ghana limited secured a slot to perform the quality control and quality assurance supervision of the project when the construction of the project commenced.

Tamne irrigation dam construction site in the Garu Tempane district of the Upper East region. Photo courtesy Nancy Anataba Kyorku Dzikunu-Bansah.

Due to the challenges faced during the testing of the soil at the laboratory, the firm opted to invest the dividends into purchasing equipment.

“Through hard work, diligence and prudent expenditure we have been able to establish a fully furnished and well set up Geotechnical laboratory for soil testing which is a major achievement as a young firm in the industry”.

The decision is to also provide others an alternative for laboratory testing at affordable cost.

Uppa Ghana limited aspires to operate a mobile laboratory where the laboratory will be moved to the field to enhance the speed of analysing samples.

This will enable early release of results and also reduce the quantity of samples that need to be carried away from the field. We also hope to become a centre of excellence when it comes to research and collaborate with the tertiary institutions to come up with tailored solutions for sustainability of projects.

Uppa Ghana limited continues to face stiff gendered competition.

As a woman in a male dominated field it has been very tough.

Nancy Anataba Kyorku Dzikunu-Bansah is also a 2018 Mandela Washington Fellow. She was placed under the Business and Entrepreneurship track at the University of Nevada, Reno.

The mother of two has set up a bakery called the Dreamland bakeries, a subsidiary of Uppa Ghana limited in Bolgatanga in the Upper East region. She has plans of expanding it into a bigger business venture in order to create more employment for the youth and contribute to the region and country’s economy.

The member of the Ghana Institution of Engineers is  inspired by her life journey. She serves as a mentor for young females in many projects across Ghana including the Girls Strength mentoring project in northern Ghana as her way of building a generation of women in Tech.

As someone who is passionate about having girls pursue Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) programmes, I hope to use my firm to draw these young girls through mentorship and grooming.


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