Presenting his 2019 presidential address on Wednesday, Consulting Engineers South Africa (Cesa) president Neresh Pather called for increased transparency for the betterment of the sector and its future.
With the intention of establishing trust, Pather averred that 2019 would see Cesa increase its focus on engaging and supporting government, for instance increasing collaboration with the National Treasury on procurement, as well as the Auditor-General’s office on compliance support.
Partnering agreements with client bodies such as the South African National Roads Agency, State-owned Transnet and the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs would further allow Cesa to contribute positively to benefit the country.
This support, Pather added, would include capacity building, skills development, compliance and good governance.
Additionally, he highlighted the need to provide “value for money” infrastructure. In this regard, Pather stated that more focus needed to be placed on calculating the best possible infrastructure solution based on the total life-cycle costing of the project.
“The industry needs to address the issue of the importance of engineers, as well as focus on creating the right narrative to be able to attract young engineers into the built environment,” he told attendees.
Pather believed the lack of engineers entering the industry would not change overnight.
“This is largely [owing to] the decreasing workload in engineering, driven directly through the economic decline,” he lamented.
However, with the use of technology to speed up delivery and to properly satisfy demand, Pather remained cautiously optimistic that the industry would be able to “future-proof” its teams and reinvent its services.
“All of these advances will be targeting faster design, more cost-effective solutions and more consistent delivery of infrastructure and construction projects from both a time and cost perspective,” he stated.
He also welcomed President Cyril Ramaphosa’s renewed focus on the basic education sector, saying that this would better prepare South Africa for the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
Cesa CEO Chris Campbell, meanwhile, stated that Ramaphosa’s call for further investment into Africa would not be successful if “Africa does not first invest into itself”.
To attract foreign investment into the continent, and subsequently into South Africa, Campbell said the continent would need to lead by example and work on making itself more investment-friendly.