Soluade stated, “With the State of the Nation Address (SONA) coming up in exactly a week’s time, we are calling on government to commit to increased and informed spending on infrastructure as a key economic driver. Government needs to overcome the current supply chain and procurement issues as well as the skills challenges our country faces”. He went on to say, “the pace at which this is happening needs to be accelerated when one considers the urgency needed”.
CESA’s hope is that with government’s focus on professionalizing the state that we will start to see the right people with the requisite skills, experience and competencies being placed in key positions to ensure that money is spent in a cost-effective manner for both the social and economic benefit of the people of our country.
He went on to say that CESA member companies have the skills and continue to be ready and willing to collaborate with government and all industry stakeholders – it is now a matter of urgency in making the difference our country so desperately needs , he emphasized!
WEF Global Risks Report – engineers are critical
The recently released World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Global Risks Report 2023 explores some of the most severe risks we may face over the next decade, including a low-growth and low-cooperation era, tougher trade-offs risk eroding climate action, human development, and future resilience. As a developmental country South Africa is already facing many of these challenges and Soluade believes that “As engineers, we are called upon to MAKE A DIFFERENCE”.
The WEF study lists the Top 10 risks over both a 2-year and a 10-year period with the engineering profession playing a major role in multiple areas. Soluade went on to quote that, “Engineers play a major role in the development and application of technology, and so have a responsibility for the evolution of society”.
Supply Chain Management – Procurement of Infrastructure
At the 2022 CESA Infrastructure Indaba, Minister of Finance, Mr. Enoch Godongwana said, “Our problem is not funding, it is also not skills, the problem is corruption and crime. Corruption and crime together with supply chain issues are the primary limiting factors affecting the delivery of sustainable social and economic infrastructure in our country”.
Soluade strongly believes, “What our country is currently experiencing is the result of years of inadequate supply chain and procurement management focused on least cost procurement! CESA believes that the correct approach should be to include the total cost of lifecycle ownership when procuring infrastructure – cheap simply does not last and puts lives at stake!”
“Through industry collaboration CESA was involved in the compilation of the new Public Procurement Bill that is due to go before parliament in the near future, for sign off and thereafter promulgation. This bill promises to ensure that the procurement of infrastructure is treated differently from that of general goods and services”.
“In our quest to encourage transformation through diversity and inclusivity of the industry CESA is pleased to report that 70% of member companies are now more than 50% black-owned with 30% being women-owned – this we believe is a great achievement and we will not stop here”, says Soluade.
Grassroots Development and Skills Challenge
“As far as grass roots development and the Skills Challenge there is a critical need for adequate and competent Engineering Capacity within Government. We need to consider how best to address this challenge in the short, medium and long term,” said Soluade,
“In the short term, with the shortage of experienced engineering capacity within the public sector, the partnership with the private sector is the easiest to implement. In the medium term, we need to upscale and upskill the capacity in the public sector in line with the Framework for Professionalising the State pronounced on by President Ramaphosa in 2022, so that these individuals would become the future custodians of our public infrastructure, having been mentored by those who would then have fully retired. In the long term, an issue that is not receiving the attention required is that the development of our skills pipeline which needs to start at grassroots level – it is a long-term objective that as a country we need to address. Early Childhood Development (ECD) and Basic Education is the gateway to STEM careers, sustainably and systemically enabling the development of homegrown engineering skills for a transformed society and a transformed industry” states Soluade.
CESA is calling on government to strengthen ECD and Basic Education Programmes with a strong focus on teaching and learning of pure mathematics and science at basic education levels and boosting career guidance to promote engineering studies as a career of choice at tertiary level.
Funders and Development
“Funders and developers will have higher levels of confidence that their money is being well spent if we achieve our goal of rooting our corruption, developing value for money infrastructure that is sustainably designed and built to stand the test of time, aimed at protecting the lives and livelihoods of the users of those it is intended for.
Critical time in South Africa’s History
Soluade stated, “We are at a critical time in South Africa’s history where we find ourselves at a crossroads as a nation, there is an urgent need to start putting plans in to action as we work together by collaborating to deliver a sustainable future for all. Our current water and energy challenges are stretching our resilience to the maximum, in addition we face added challenges with our Transport Systems affecting logistics; our Healthcare Systems and our Educational Institutions, to name a few”.
He concluded by saying, “We need to collaborate by getting everyone involved as it is the only way that we will be able to MAKE A DIFFERENCE as an industry, as engineers and as citizens of our Country.”
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