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11 May 2021. With the aim of connecting and promoting the consulting engineering profession across the African continent, the 27th annual FIDIC Africa Infrastructure Conference takes place online this month. “With a purely virtual event this year, we are confident that our reach and impact will exceed previous years’ conferences,” says Engineer Kabelo Motswagole, President of FIDIC Africa. “The conference will bring together consulting engineers, financial institutions and investment bodies, thought leaders, and government ministries from around Africa, to consider the changing landscape of infrastructure development and engage in problem-solving discussions.” Delegates from multi-national consulting engineering firms and role-players who are active in Africa will also be in attendance.
The annual gathering is traditionally hosted in person by a FIDIC Africa member country and was due to be hosted in Botswana in 2020. Plans were disrupted by the Covid-19 crisis; however, Motswagole believes that in crisis lies opportunity and expects the virtual conference to attract more delegates than in previous years due to ease of access. “Africans are embracing technology; Covid has shown the world how technological innovation can bring people together with their clients, colleagues, customers and family alike. I look forward to seeing how we engage and collaborate, virtually, to drive our industry forward,” he says.
Unpacking the reality of African infrastructure development
The conference, on 18-19 May 2021, has the central theme of ‘The Role of the Consulting Engineer in a Changing World – The African Perspective’. Infrastructure development – and the related challenges surrounding investment, sustainability, and skills development – will be core to many panel discussions and presentations. “Infrastructure development is crucial for developing African countries, but the focus on construction activities has dwindled as government funds across the continent were diverted to address the pandemic. While this was a necessity to save lives, the longer-term impact means that many countries are facing a worsening state of public infrastructure which has deep social and economic effects,” says Motswagole. The conference will address the role of the consulting engineer in aiding decision-makers, ministries, and investment bodies to secure sustainable, quality, and innovative infrastructure solutions by Africans, for Africa.
Motswagole explains: “Infrastructure development is a concern for every African country, and I have some doubt as to whether the consulting engineering profession is afforded the opportunity of participating appropriately in guiding infrastructure development. The conference will address our position and credibility in the eyes of funding bodies and multilateral development banks. We will showcase the reality, that African consulting engineers, have the capacity to offer innovative infrastructure solutions and are best positioned to make strategic and meaningful contributions to our respective economies and societies.”
Making voices heard
The conference aims to both present a world-class line-up of presenters and keynote speakers and to make our voices heard. Robust panel discussions will address prominent issues facing the industry. Further, networking opportunities will allow the sharing of information relating to challenges and solutions in multiple countries. “We encourage delegates to ‘share notes’ on the challenges, opportunities and trends they see in their respective countries. Sharing of information is vital to the development of our continent,” says Motswagole.
Importantly, Motswagole adds that the conference planning has placed emphasis on ensuring that the voices of female engineers are heard. “Attendees will see Africa putting its best foot forward, with female engineers at the forefront of conference activities.” Whilst we acknowledge that the business of consulting engineering has traditionally been a male-dominated industry, workplace transformation and diversity should be actively encouraged to ensure that women are welcomed, retained and become leaders in the profession and the industry
Lastly, Motswagole says that the FIDIC Africa General Assembly Meeting (GAM) will precede the conference this year, offering member countries an opportunity to have their voices heard and ideas shared for driving FIDIC Africa forward. “Delegates must remember that this is their conference – it is for Africa, for consulting engineers across the country to gather, network, learn and share solutions for our beloved Continent,” he concludes.
As a delegate of the conference, you will be required to use the following link to register: https://evolve.eventoptions.co.za/register/fidicafrica2021/details.
For more information, please contact:
Thabiso@swmcommunications.co.za or 079 098 4863
About FIDIC Africa
FIDIC Africa, formerly the Group of African Member Associations (GAMA) of the International Federation of Consulting Engineers (FIDIC) was formed in 1993 with the intention of providing a platform for collaboration and improved linkages of FIDIC Member Associations within Africa. It is run by a secretariat that manages the day-to-day activities of FIDIC Africa, whilst strategic direction and decision making is carried out through the FIDIC Africa Executive Committee comprising volunteers elected as representatives from FIDIC Africa Member Associations.