Industry body Consulting Engineers South Africa (Cesa) is celebrating its seventieth year - having become the apex organisation of the consulting engineering sector - and aims to help develop local capacity to address the backlogs in infrastructure, says Cesa CEO Chris Campbell.
“Our seventieth anniversary bears testament to the critical role we continue to play in the engineering sector since the organisation was first established in 1952,” he says.
The past decade has been a particularly eventful one for South Africa and the industry. The Covid-19 pandemic had a significant impact on the country’s economy and has contributed to setting back a number of infrastructure development initiatives, as well as the broader South African economy.
“Within this constrained environment, we have played a critical role in supporting our members and the broader built environment and construction sector, while contributing to the development of practitioners in the public and private sectors,” says Campbell.
“We remain committed to the promotion of excellence in the consulting engineering industry on behalf of our members and stakeholders. We continue to strive not only to develop and support the consulting engineering sector, but also to have a meaningful impact on the lives of all South Africans. We look forward to another 70 years of contributing to the sector and to our country as we continue in our quest to Protect Lives and Livelihoods,” he says.
One of Cesa's strategic goals is to promote transformation of the sector. The need to develop local capacity has necessitated Cesa’s focus on capacity development and through its member base, it has developed the means for larger established companies to partner with newer small, medium-sized and microenterprise businesses and for the latter to participate in public sector projects.
This has worked to address inequalities in access to business, as well as to support and capacitate these small businesses, he says.
In full support of the government’s transformation targets, more than 70% of Cesa's almost 600 member companies are more than 51% black-owned and, of these, 3.1% are owned by black women.
Two-thirds of the member firms have a staff of 20 or fewer and 50% fewer than ten employees. Many of these are emerging consulting engineering organisations that are either majority owned or wholly owned by black South Africans.
The number of black-owned and -managed firms joining Cesa has grown from 38% in 2009 to 55% in 2022, he points out.
Further, Cesa’s School of Consulting Engineering (SCE) celebrates 20 years of service excellence, offers more than 100 courses country-wide and has provided training to thousands of practitioners.
“The SCE courses go a long way to ensuring skills development and the retention of skills within the consulting industry,” Campbell avers.
Meanwhile, Cesa's Young Professionals Forum (YPF), established in 2004, serves the needs of professional engineers, technologists and technicians under the age of 35 in member firms, by providing a platform for young practitioners to network and grow and the YPF Imbizo celebrates its tenth anniversary this year.
Additionally, Cesa became a member of International Federation of Consulting Engineers (Fidic) in 1959 and of its regional grouping the Group of African Member Associations in 1981, now Fidic Africa, with Cesa fulfilling the role as secretariat to this regional body, representing the African continent, since 2018.
Cesa has been recognised during two Fidic Award ceremonies - in 2019, in Mexico City, as well as online in 2021 - for the organisation's achievements amongst Fidic’s 106 country member associations.
The engineering excellence of Cesa member firms has also been celebrated for the past 50 years at the yearly Cesa Aon Engineering Excellence Awards. This is a showcase of member firms, their clients and their projects that are world class in their standards of design and innovation which contribute to enhancing the quality of life of the public and the communities being served, he notes.