The Sierra Leone Institution of Engineers in collaboration with the Engineers for Change has hosted a three-day biennial conference at the Golden Tulip Hotel in Freetown with theme “The Role of Information and Communication Technology in Sustainable National Development”.
The conference, which started on Wednesday June 27 2018, attracted representatives of regional engineering organisations including the Ghana Institute of Engineering, Nigeria Society of Engineers, Federation of African Engineering Organisations, Western African Federation of Engineering Organisation and local engineers.
The conference was described by regional representatives as one of the most successful conferences held because of the importance of the topics selected for the seminar.
The conference offers a platform and an opportunity to exchange ideas and learn lessons from researchers, practitioners, and academia within and outside Africa on the role ICT can play in national development.
Some of the questions addressed at the conference will include how Africa can position itself on the global industry in automation; how can contract management be improved in engineering projects while ensuring IC security; and how can Africa improve its ICT education and training.
The Minister of Works and Public Assets, Raymond de Souza George, said as a nation, we need to focus on the various topics of the conference if the country is to develop. He stated that for any country to develop, it needs more engineers than politicians. Engineers are a catalyst for national development… “if we care for the engineers, we care for all and for the development of the country.
As the theme deals with information communication technology, the Minister said Sierra Leone needs an efficient ICT network and statistics around the world shows that country that take ICT seriously develop faster than others.
The President of Southern African Federation of Engineering Organisations, George Sitali, said ICT is at the centre of development of any nation, noting that Sierra Leone will not reach its peak of development if it fails to put high premium on engineers. He said that African countries should put themselves in the proper places locally and internationally, adding that that African countries should only be satisfied when the whole continent is moving forward. “We need to move together,” he said.
The President of the West Africa Federation of Engineers, Otis Oliver Tabugbo Anyaeji, said SLIE has made history for organizing such an important conference. He said that the conference is one of the best he had attended because issues relating to the harmonization of standards of telecommunication were discussed at the conference. “The conference is a huge success, and SLIE has made history,” he said.
He said Sierra Leone has huge infrastructural problems. He urged policymakers to work with engineers to translate those challenges to opportunities.
President of Nigeria Society of Engineers, Adekunle Mokuolu, said that engineers should bring to the basics what are the needs of citizens of Africa and how these needs could be addressed.
He said African countries should be cautious with the way they are acquiring technology.
“Nothing is sustainable until we are in control. Our focus should not be on donors. The development of our countries lies on our shoulders,” he said.
By Betty Milton