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Derrick Semwanga: Leading innovation in construction

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One of Derrick Semwanga’s projects. Insert: Derrick Semwanga. PHOTO/ESTHER BRIDGET NAKALYA.

In the bustling world of architecture and construction, it is easy to ignore the true force, the visionary whose impact resonates through the structures that shape our cities. Meet Derrick Semwanga, the unsung hero behind some of the most prominent buildings in and around Kampala.

While his name may not be familiar to all, his expertise, innovation, and meticulous attention to detail have left an indelible mark on the skyline, elevating him from obscurity to acclaim in civil engineering.

Semwanga’s journey as a civil engineer is a testament to his technical prowess, resilience, passion, and dedication to the field. With five years of hands-on experience under his belt, Semwanga’s career trajectory is marked by a series of formative experiences that have shaped him into the accomplished professional he is today.

The beginning

His foray into engineering began during his senior six vacation, when he got a gig with an architectural firm to help with their administrative tasks. What started as a means to earn tuition for his university education quickly evolved into a transformative period of growth and learning.

 “Working at the House of Engineering not only helped me financially but also provided me with invaluable exposure to industry experts. Every task I undertook, whether running errands or assisting as a receptionist, contributed to my knowledge and instilled in me a mindset geared towards excellence,” Semwanga recounts.

Semwanga took a significant step forward in his career by becoming a registered member of the Uganda Institute of Professional Engineers (UIPE) while pursuing his Bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering at Ndejje University.

 Eager to expand his knowledge base, he later pursued a diploma in civil engineering at Mutesa Royal University and is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in construction management at Ndejje University.


Semwanga’s expertise lies not only in his academic qualifications but also in his practical on-site skills. He has developed a reputation for his ability to create and execute complex construction projects with precision and innovation.

His portfolio boasts an impressive array of projects, including the C&H Village Cottage, Psalms Apartment, Hilton Hotel (Twed Towers), and Ham Towers, among others. While these projects often involve collaboration with different contractors, Semwanga is consistently the driving force behind the concepts.

“Conceptualisation is not just about creating designs; it is about foreseeing how a project will unfold from conception to completion. It requires conducting thorough risk assessments and leveraging advanced technology, to ensure the project is both aesthetically pleasing and structurally sound,” he explains.

Starting his own company

In 2018, Semwanga started Rallen Contractor, an engineering firm known for its innovative construction approach. Under his leadership, the company has garnered acclaim for its unique and visually striking structures, setting a new standard for excellence in the industry.

Semwanga remains grounded and committed to continuous growth. He attributes much of his success to the mentorship of seasoned professionals such as Engineer Makanda and his active involvement in professional organisations such as UIPE.

Giving back

Semwanga is also passionate about inspiring the next generation of engineers. He has created mentorship programmes and educational initiatives, for aspiring engineers to pursue their dreams.