Cde Skever Nadolo: An engineer for all seasons

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By Dr Tony Monda

OVER the past two decades, or more, Zimbabwe’s manufacturing, industrial and commercial engineering sectors have been functioning under par, or worse still, wholly malfunctioning, due to obsolete and decommissioned engineering equipment, lack of engineering skills, institutional graft and foreign currency shortages.  

As the fourth global industrial revolution makes it incumbent for enlightened governments in Africa to rapidly adapt to the global digital economy, Zimbabwe cannot afford to be left out.

In an interview with The Patriot recently, consultant communications engineer, Cde Nadolo gave a comprehensive account of the need for Zimbabwe to adapt to the modern digital systems; invest in the restoration and upgrading of the old analogue engineering systems and the design and generation of new eco-friendly and affordable power generation in the country, through the exploration of renewable energy sources.

“In 1980, at Zimbabwe’s independence, the country entered the global socio-political and economic fray in style. Zimbabwe made history in the World Guinness Book of Records for having the most educated Cabinet in the world,” engineer Nadolo reminded me.  

Then, each Cabinet Minister was appropriately oriented to their appointed ministerial portfolio and Zimbabwe made phenomenal unprecedented strides in the field of education, which resulted in Zimbabwe having a vast pool of professionals.

Currently lagging behind in the world revolution of development, and knowledge generation by almost two decades, our Government, educational institutions and businesses should work together to harness the knowledge and skills required to bring the country in line with the New Digital Age.  

In inspiring words during the interview, Eng Nadolo reiterated that the field of engineering equips students with organisational and thinking skills that include analysis, comprehension, comparison and creativity as well as life skills and communication, decision-making, problem solving, risk assessment and critical thinking.

“Engineering,” according to Cde Nadolo, “is a profession of applying scientific principles to the design, construction, function and maintenance of machines, equipment, etc., be they mechanical, electrical or digital.” 

Born on July 7 1964, Cde Nadolo was a student at Mabvuku High School.  

He began his illustrious engineering career soon after independence in 1983, working with the Post and Telecommunication Corporation (PTC), that was using Strauger switching equipment, until 1985, as a telecommunications artisan technician and attained a T-5 Telecommunications qualification under the auspices of the City and Guilds of London.

Between 1986 and 1989, he attended the Munich College of Science Education, Germany, where he obtained a Bachelor of Science Degree qualifying and specialising in heavy and light current instrumentation. 

More recently he undertook training on design and architecture of single and three-phase solar systems with Sergen Solar (India), and Canadian Solar, while working at Pirex Computers.

As a boy, his curiosity and obsession about how machines work drove him to be the southern African regional engineering expert he is renowned for today.  

During his long career, Eng Nadolo rubbed shoulders with Pavel Vinagradov – the illustrious Russian cosmonaut, who recently was part of the team that worked to save the trapped Chilean miners in Chile, South America, during an orientation course at Hewlett Packard.  

In conversation, Cde Nadolo said: “Central to the transformation of Zimbabwe to a middle-income economy, is the need to upgrade the past colonial analogue infrastructure to digital engineering and adapt to new eco-friendly low-cost energy systems.  

“Contrary to the media-generated myth that Zimbabwe constitutes a lost and backward society, many indigenous Zimbabwean engineers are in worldwide demand to help fulfill the vital revolution of technology on the international development arena.”

While 2017 marked the inauguration of the Second Republic and the beginnings of a new development strategy, the garnering of strategic personal, academic and technical manpower to solve some of the national development programmes has been found wanting.

Besides socio-political institutional reforms, there needs to be some kind of technical, educational and engineering reforms to upgrade our national infrastructure to world-class standards and up-skill our industrial, commercial, agricultural, media and communications equipment and manpower.

Today, mainly due to the COVID-19 lock-down, internet and ICT have become the main communication tools, source of knowledge and probably the panacea to development and re-harnessing the skills of the fractured society.

Engineering, was once viewed as a sacrosanct preserve of White minority artisans in Rhodesia, who defended their stance ‘to maintain and protect the infrastructure from suspected terrorist attack’s’ during the war of liberation.

The arcane favoritism and unwritten institutional colour bar of separate-development (apartheid) in Rhodesia, carried over in early Zimbabwe, but did not prevent Cde Nadolo from pursuing his dream.  

As the legacy of the Rhodesian Bantu education was redressed at independence, a number of indigenous Zimbabwean engineers came to the fore of world technology, creating technical and digital innovations that have had a regional and worldwide impact.  

Equipped with the requisite technical skills of electrical engineering, Cde Nadolo, conscientiously sought to expand his horizons and specialised in the various fields of communication.  To this end, he joined Ericsson of Sweden (1990-1992), where he specialised in engine switching; Philips Electrical (1993-1996), to specialise in the repair and installation

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of telecoms equipment, VHF radios and medical equipment.

Reinforcing his already impressive portfolio, Cde Nadolo is distinguished by his specialised scholarship. 

He is a Dell Certified systems engineer, proficient in the installation of dell servers and digital equipment, a systems and network engineer for CISCO, and a certified systems solution provider for HP servers, skills he acquired at Realtime Computers, where he undertook the installation of HP services 

With the legendary German conglomerate Siemens of Germany, engineer Nadolo was an understudy of Hardy Schruder and Walter Beaforth; here he specialised in EMD switching as well as Siemens Power Control Systems.

A pioneer in his discipline, engineer Nadolo has been centrally involved in the engineering design, rehabilitation, maintenance and upgrading of much urban mechanical infrastructure throughout the country from the late 1980s to the present. 

Cde Nadolo was a team member that installed the first ATM machine in Zimbabwe, marking the foundation of digital banking systems in Zimbabwe.  

Here he installed the ATM machines and mainframe for NCR.  He undertook the radar installation at the Harare International Airport; the installation of variable AC DC drivers for Mimosa Mine; the installation of Dimter HK800 timber finger jointers for Boarder Timbers; the installation HP servers for billing and Lynax Box as messages server for Econet Masasa; the Dell server at The Herald; Standard Chartered Bank, Alexander House Harare; Telecel Zimbabwe; COTTCO Depots countrywide; designed and installation of commercial, industrial and domestic alarm and electronic surveillance systems (CCTV), for Chubb Union Security Alarms Division, and the installation of digital agro-processing systems, such as Agromilk software for dairy farmers.  

The ingenious engineer installed the airport radar and air traffic control equipment at the airport in Inchope, Mozambique, under the auspices of the Zionist Community Church of Canada. 

Among other innovative and contemporary digital electronic systems, Cde Nadolo has been instrumental in implementing digital systems to improve the operational effectiveness and efficiency of industrial plants and machinery for the Coca-Cola Bottling Plant at Delta Beverages and the Mimosa Platinum Mine, among others.  

In 2000, he conceived and draughted the original blueprint for the tender, not awarded, for the Gwanda Solar Project to supplement the national grid.

In the field of medicine, he has provided advice, installed and maintained equipment for Makumbi Mission Hospital, Domboshava; St. Paul’s Mission, Musami, Murewha; the x ray machine at Kariba Hospital, Harare Medical Aid Society (HAMAS) and digitally controlled dental chairs.

Inundated with requests to impart his knowledge of engineering to tertiary institutions and universities throughout Africa, the patriotic engineer Nadolo however, feels his expertise is more useful to build, re-build and rehabilitate the infrastructure in Zimbabwe, his homeland.

Engineering, science and technology are the development mainspring of Zimbabwe’s economy.  

Omnipresent in all sectors of the economy is the need for mechanisation, technology, and currently, the installation of new ICT systems.  

In order to attain vision 2030, as envisaged by President Emmerson Mnangagwa, the Zimbabwean Government’s blue print for national development, known as the Transitional Stabilisation Programme (TSP), which plans to re-tool local industry and transform local raw materials into finished products, the nation needs visionary engineers, of Cde Nadolo’s caliber, to make this transformation.

Said Cde Nadolo: “Engineering and digitisation, enhance productivity, which in Zimbabwe, redundant and obsolete machinery need to be replaced by new state-of-the-art equipment.  

“The economic challenges Zimbabwe faces today require industrial design technology and engineering to establish itself as an industrial production hub, reawaken the manufacturing sector and refurbish our infrastructure.”

According to industrial designer and lecturer Dr Michelina Andreucci: “Policy formulation required to reawaken industry in Zimbabwe needs institutional memory such as Cde Nadolo’s who is cognisant of both, the colonial and post-colonial mechanical, electrical and civic engineering history of Zimbabwe to bridge the knowledge gap required to stream-line industrial and economic development.”

Thus, the most pertinent requisite for the reawakening and re-fabrications of industry in the country, requires professional and visionary industrial designers and engineers like Cde Nadolo, to restructure and alight the flame of industry in Zimbabwe

While always personable and engaging, Cde Nadolo is an engineer of the highest caliber with a prodigious capacity for work, who painstakingly solves mega- engineering challenges diligently and methodically, from the drawing board to final resolution. 

With over 33 years experience in the field of electrical, civil and structural engineering, and a through knowledge of the history and protocol behind Zimbabwe’s infrastructure, coupled with his grounding in international engineering expectations, Cde Nadolo’s deep understanding and application of his chosen profession is meritorious.

Away from his profession, Cde Nadolo was an ardent footballer and football fan in his heyday.

Against the backdrop of the current economic strife and the general public ignorance of the nuts and bolts of the infrastructure in Zimbabwe, Cde Nadolo reiterates that it is important for young scholars, Government ministers and heads of industry to be introduced and become enlightened with the man-made world of engineering.  

Dr Tony Monda holds a PhD in Art Theory and Philosophy and a DBA (Doctorate in Business Administration) and Post-Colonial Heritage Studies. He is a writer, lecturer and a specialist post-colonial scholar, Zimbabwean socio-economic analyst and researcher. 

For views and comments, email: tonym.MONDA@gmail.com

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