Born on the 31st July, 1955 in Zaria, Kaduna State of Nigeria, Prof Abubakar Sani Sambo graduated from Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria with a First Class Honours in Mechanical Engineering in 1979. In 1983, he obtained his DPhil degree also in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Sussex, United Kingdom. Prof Sambo started his working career at Bayero University, Kano (BUK) as a Graduate Assistant in Mechanical Engineering Department in 1980 and rose to become a Senior Lecturer in 1987. In 1989 he joined Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto (UDUS) as Reader (Associate Professor) in Energy Studies and Director of the Sokoto Energy Research Centre (SERC) of that University. In 1991 he was appointed Professor of Energy Studies at Sokoto. From 1995 to 2004 Prof Sambo served as the Vice Chancellor of Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University (ATBU), Bauchi. He served briefly, that was between August to December 2004, as the pioneer Vice Chancellor of Kaduna State University before his appointment as the Director General of the Energy Commission of Nigeria (ECN) where he served for two terms of a total of eight years from 1st January 2005 to 31st December 2012.
While at the BUK, between 1980 and 1989, Prof Sambo taught courses in Applied Thermodynamics, Fluid Mechanics, Heat Transfer and Engineering Drawing. He conducted research and development in Solar Radiation Studies, Flat Plate Solar Collectors and Thermosyphon Solar Water Heaters. He also served as the Sub Dean and later Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Technology as well as Head of Mechanical Engineering Department all at BUK. At the SERC of UDUS Prof Sambo, as the Centre’s Director, coordinated the research groups to conduct pioneering R&D activities in Solar Radiation Studies, Solar Thermal Conversions, Biogas Digesters & Stoves, Improved Wood Burning Stoves and Solar Photovoltaic Applications. He started the Nigerian Journal of Renewable Energy and produced the maiden edition of the Directory of Renewable R & D Activities in Nigeria. While at UDUS, Prof Sambo also served as the Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academic) for two terms between 1990-1994. At ATBU Prof Sambo strengthened the academic programmes and ensured that all the engineering degree programmes were accredited by both the Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria (COREN) and by the National Universities Commission (NUC).
He established the departments of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering as well as three Schools (Faculties): Science Education, Management Technology and the Post Graduate School. For revenue generation Prof Sambo established the University’s company, ATBU Trust and Investment Limited and for attracting external projects he established the Directorate of Linkages while for staff welfare he established the institution’s Staff Secondary School. At the ECN, being the Government’s agency for energy planning, policy formulation as well as advocacy and promotion of sustainable energy practices, Prof Sambo saw to it that the overall National Energy Masterplan was produced and substantial work done on the National Energy Databank as well as the National Energy Manpowerplan. During Prof Sambo’s tenure at the ECN new energy research centres were setup at Bauchi, Benin City, Ilorin and Lagos and two new departments were established at the head office. The energy modelling activities were strengthened by using newly acquired computer modelling tools and the pilot projects of the Commission were also strengthened by securing more funds from the National Assembly. Prof Sambo established the Journal of Energy Planning Research and Development (JEPRD) and modernised the Commission’s Newsbulletin.
Prof Sambo has supervised 14 PhD and 10 Masters degree candidates to successful completion and has written more than 200 articles in books, journals, conference proceedings and seminars and workshops. He is registered by COREN to practice as a Mechanical Engineer and he is a FELLOW of the following 8 associations: 1. Nigerian Academy of Engineering; 2. Nigerian Academy of Science; 3. Nigerian Society of Engineers; 4. Solar Energy Society of Nigeria; 5. Nigerian Institution of Mechanical Engineers; 6. Nigerian Association of Energy Economists; 7. Renewable and Alternative Energy Society of Nigeria; and 8. Energy Institute of the U. K. He has served as the Vice Chairman for Africa of the World Energy Council from November 2007 to October 2013. He was named the Special Adviser to the President on Energy in July 2011. He is the recipient of two national honours: the National Productivity Order of Merit (NPOM) in 1997 and the Officer of the Order of the Niger (OON) in year 2000.