A mining engineer seeks a deeper understanding of public policy
While many of the MPP students come to the Blavatnik School with an academic grounding in policy, a significant number bring different kinds of expertise. Peter Kapr Bangura, an AGI and Weidenfeld-Hoffman scholar, has a technical background. After his Bachelor’s in civil engineering and Master’s in Mining Engineering at Camborne School of Mines in the UK, Peter began working as a Mine Planning Engineer in Sierra Leone’s largest iron ore company, before making the jump to the public sector.
“Joining government was the most important decision of my career. I’ve always been passionate about impacting change on the lives of my people. Working for a private mining firm was lucrative, but I thought I would be much more useful serving the seven million people of Sierra Leone than serving the shareholders of a mining company.”
At the National Minerals Agency in Sierra Leone, Peter has been part of a team who are implementing reforms in the mineral sector to ensure that Sierra Leoneans get maximum benefit from mineral resources. As Sierra Leone is a resource-rich country, mining makes up a huge part of the economy, and so the regulation of the sector has an enormous impact on the lives of citizens. “You have to make very sound policy decisions; if you don’t get it right, it causes problems for the whole economy.”
Witnessing the positive impact of his work in the public sector, Peter wanted to go a step further by deepening his understanding of policy. “Coming from an engineering background to government is a huge change. One of my roles is to ensure effective implementation of mineral sector policies formulated by the Ministry of Mines and Mineral Resources, while also providing strategic advice on policy issues. I therefore need a strong background in policy to be more effective in this role.”
The skills gained on the MPP will be highly valuable to him once he returns to his role in public service.
“The MPP gives you tools for formulating and implementing policy, so it prepares you to work in any sector in government. Coming from a technical background, the course suits me well. Returning to university after seven years of field work is difficult at the start, but that’s natural; if it wasn’t challenging I wouldn’t be here.”
The Summer Project is another course component that Peter thinks will help his career development, and potentially form the basis of a future PhD. “It’s an opportunity to consolidate what we’ve learnt, and come up with practical solutions that can be used in a specific policy context.”
As an AGI and Weidenfeld-Hoffmann scholar, Peter has received funding to complete the course, and would encourage others to consider the options available. “People shouldn’t limit themselves if they don’t have funding. I didn’t have funding when I applied, but the School was very helpful. The admissions team will always do their best to find you a scholarship and bring you here.”