Dr Kgosientsho Ramokgopa, Minister in the Presidency for Electricity, delivered the keynote address at the second day of the 9th UNESCO Africa Engineering Week (AEW) and the 7th Africa Engineering Conference, where he called for a more Pan-African view around energy infrastructure on the continent stating: “Engineers in developing infrastructure, are central to the resolution of issues of perineal under-funding and policy missteps over time, resulting in South Africa being plunged into darkness and that other African countries learn from our mistakes.”“We require a collective approach for Africa to achieve its potential. Our region is not energy secure and to achieve this we need to systematically undermine sovereign borders. Electrical infrastructure is important in driving growth and prosperity. Within South Africa, Eskom does not have the resources, and therefore, we need to take advantage of private sector liquidity.” “Chronic underinvestment in infrastructure is preventing African producers from ramping up production to meet global demand. Currently half a billion people on the continent do not have access to electricity. Regional integration will ensure that we become energy secure – as long as we are disjointed, we will be super exploited!” “In every crisis there is opportunity – opportunity can only be seen by engineers and therefore we are looking to you as engineers to resolve this problem!” he concluded. At the start of his address, Ramokgopa also commented on the strong diversity and inclusivity theme at the conference: “Until hearing the presentations by our distinguished women speakers, I had no appreciation of what women go through to become engineers – at Eskom, we have 14 coal fired power stations, 1 nuclear power station and 3 peaking stations and there’s only 2 female general managers.” He thanked his fellow presenters for highlighting the importance of diversity and inclusivity. Following on the call for diversity and inclusivity within the engineering sector, Deputy Governor of Ogun State, Nigeria, Noimot Salako-Oyedele warned that, at the current rate, it will take 140 years to achieve equality in the workplace for women. “Women engineers in Africa account for 10% of all engineers, in South Africa only 12% of registered professional engineers are women and in Nigeria this drops to 7,5%.” She stated: “Diversity leads to greater profitability and economic growth and therefore it is crucial to break down barriers.”
Prof. Elizabeth Taylor, Chair of the International Engineering Alliance (IEA) Governing Group, informed the audience that the IEA focused on engineering mobility beyond jurisdictional borders by promoting mobility and inclusivity: “Active engagement by all results in rich outcomes. Diversity leads to greater profitability andeconomic growth,” she stated. South Africa and Nigeria are, out of 30 countries, the only two members of the IEA on the African continent.” She called on ECSA through their strong support to drive their voice across the African continent. Dr Sandile Malinga, Group Executive for Smart Mobility, Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), in providing an overview of the mandate of the CSIR stated: “We are accelerators of socio-economic development and prosperity in South Africa through innovation working closely with engineers, connecting research, innovation and technology through collaboration.” Dr Msizi Myeza, CEO, Council for the Built Environment (CBE), provided the plenary vote of thanks stating: “It is about the service that we as engineers deliver to society!” Discussions, presentation and insights continued during the plenary parallel sessions hosted which focused on Technical Papers; Business 2 Business Networking; Women in Engineering as well as Student and Young Practitioners.