Consulting engineers to shine light on Covid-19, climate change, and corruption in Africa | Infrastructure news

Consulting engineers from across Africa will assemble online next month to discuss some of the key challenges facing the construction and infrastructure sector in the region, including the Covid pandemic, climate change, and corruption, at the 27th annual FIDIC Africa Infrastructure Conference. 

FIDIC, the International Federation of Consulting Engineers promotes quality, integrity and sustainability in the infrastructure industry around the world and on 18-19 May, the federation will discuss the challenges and opportunities facing its African members at its annual gathering, which this year will take place virtually due to the ongoing restrictions caused by the Covid crisis.

FIDIC Africa, previously known as GAMA (Group of African Member Associations), represents the interests of the industry in the African region and supports FIDIC activities at national and regional level.

“This year, we look forward to sharing knowledge and engaging in problem-solving as we look at how countries in Africa have been uniquely impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic,” says Dr Nelson Ogunshakin OBE, CEO of FIDIC.

“We believe that consulting engineers can play a proactive role, as “trusted adviser”, in shaping national government responses to health, social and economic concerns, driven by quality, sustainability and integrity in the delivery of critical infrastructure,” Ogunshakin said. 

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’. The online event will allow industry stakeholders from across the continent to engage with an expert line-up of presenters. Programme highlights and keynote speakers include:

  • Kabelo Motswagole, President, FIDIC Africa
  • Dr Nelson Ogunshakin OBE, CEO, FIDIC
  • Tewolde Gebre Mariam, CEO, Ethiopian Airlines
  • Matt Reiffer, Director of Transportation Programs, American Council of Engineering Companies
  • Clare Akamanzi, CEO, Rwanda Development Board
  • Amadou Oumarou, Director, Infrastructure & Urban Development, African Development Bank
  • Mtchera Johannes Chirwa, Chief Infrastructure & PPP Specialist, African Development Bank
  • Logashri Sewnarain, CEO, SMEC South Africa
The diverse and highly knowledgeable speakers will be addressing pressing issues facing consulting engineers in Africa. Dr Ogunshakin said: “We want to share information, advice, best practice and success stories to enable our member countries to become more efficient in project planning and execution, so that they can catch up on work that was put on hold during the pandemic. In light of Covid-19, it is critical to create infrastructure that promotes the wellbeing of our society, especially in developing nations.”.

Presentations at the conference will address a range of issues, from the national strategic plan, project definition, finance and investment, climate change and sustainability, to disruptive technology and skills development.

Discussions will also cover the role of the African consulting engineer in steering the engineering sector through a changing world. In addition to presentations, interactive panel discussions will also take place throughout the conference on a range of topics including Integrity and ethical project implementation; Challenges and disruptions – The consultant’s experience and the role of the engineer in infrastructure and social development.

 “In addition to engaging in discussions, we aim to share the lessons we have all learned through the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Dr Ogunshakin.

“There is no doubt that the pandemic has had a major impact on firms, infrastructure development and industry structure and we also know that infrastructure investment is a major concern facing the global consulting engineering industry, but we want to address how this looks in an African context and what can be done to address this very prominent issue. On the back of this, corruption and irregular procurement will also be a point of discussion at the conference.

“Corruption is endemic across the whole of the continent and one of FIDIC’s strategic objectives is to work with wider stakeholders to combat corruption,” said Dr Ogunshakin.

“In the short term, if we can reduce it by 30 or 50%, it would be amazing to know where these funds could be channeled and invested to unlock essential infrastructure requirements for society.

“We encourage all infrastructure stakeholders – governments, investors, multilateral development banks, developers, asset owners, operators, consulting engineers, contractors and suppliers from across the continent to register for this event, which is specifically aimed at the unique African context. The virtual platform will offer opportunities for discussion, networking and problem solving catered specifically for consulting engineers and the infrastructure industry in Africa,” said Dr Ogunshakin.

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