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World Engineering Day is celebrated March 4, in recognition of the critical role that engineers have played and continue to play in modern life throughout the world. This year, we celebrate the day amidst the COVID- 19 pandemic, a global pandemic that has caused significant disruption in the social and economic affairs of practically all countries. Recovery from this pandemic will require the efforts of all and the role and contributions of African engineers within the world engineering community must be recognised.

We commend and celebrate engineers on the continent who rallied around to come up with innovative solutions for the healthcare and sanitation needs brought about by the pandemic. We are also gratified to note the contributions made by African Engineers towards the development of vaccines that now offer hope to the world. We further commend the efforts  of many other engineers in Africa who have, often in circumstances that are less than perfect, built and maintained infrastructure for the benefit of their fellow citizens.

The work of engineers is often hidden and not fully appreciated by the general public and we call on engineers around the continent to use the opportunity provided by this celebration to showcase their work to their communities.

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Africa needs engineers now more than ever before, as it strives to achieve “the Africa We Want”. The goals we have set for ourselves as Africans, be it the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) in the short term or the AU’s Agenda 2063 will not be achieved within the time limits set  without the active involvement of, “a sufficient, diverse, inclusive and competent base of relevant engineering work-force and industries for Africa that engage in safe, ethical and sustainable practice”

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It is the goal of FAEO to support the development of an engineering workforce that meets these requirements.

Whilst there is definitely a need for many more engineering practitioners on the continent, there are some countries that have engineers with skills that can be deployed to serve other countries and FAEO will work towards the mobility of engineers on the continent to ensure that we make the best use of the skills we have.

FAEO also believes that countries will better be served by an engineering workforce that is reflective of the society in which it operates. To this end we call for greater participation of females in engineering. The current situation in which on average, less than 20% of females are involved in producing our engineering solutions will not serve us well. We call on African governments to actively pursue policies that will encourage the participation of females in engineering. Societal barriers must be removed and educational systems reformed to make the study of science and mathematics which form the basis of engineering, more attractive to students.

Engineering practice that serves the development needs of a country can best be ensured in a regulated environment in which engineering practitioners are assessed by their peers for competence before being allowed to operate and are accountable for their actions. Engineering practitioners on the continent must support engineering bodies charged with mandate of undertaking these regulatory roles. African governments are also being called upon to empower engineering bodies in their countries to engage in the necessary regulation of the practice.

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We salute once again all engineers for their efforts towards establishing the “Africa We Want“

Ing. (Mrs) Carlien Bou-Chedid
President, Federation of African Engineering Organisations
Federation of African Engineering Organisations

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