KAMPALA – The Deputy Speaker of Parliament Thomas Tayebwa has challenged engineers to put innovation at the center of their work.
He said innovation will help the African Continent to find homegrown solutions to its challenges, especially in the road and construction sector.
Speaking at the 2023 National Technology Conference and Exhibition (NTCE) organised by the Uganda Institution of Professional Engineers (UIPE) in Kampala, Tayebwa, said professional engineers should exploit the emerging opportunities for innovation and make a contribution to the continent’s socio-economic transformation.
“I urge you as engineers to put innovation at the centre of whatever you’re doing,” Tayebwa said, adding that the ability to resolve critical problems depends on new innovations, and especially developing countries need it more than ever.
“I hope by the time you get out of here, you will help us to address the question of the high cost of road construction in most of our countries,” Tayebwa said.
The Deputy Speaker cited an example of Entebbe Expressway, a 53km Highway with four lanes. About $9 million was spent per kilometer, which brought the total cost to $476 million. While Kenya’s Thika Highway, a 50km long, eight lanes cost about $7.2m per-kilometerre, with a total cost of $360 million.
He said the profession will have to take a more strategic and holistic approach to managing and developing national infrastructure projects to help address such challenges.
“Why don’t we set standards and share knowledge for the African continent on such projects because the terrain is more or less the same, the cost of labor is a little bit close, and the cost of materials are also in the same price range, he said, adding that these can be done through collaboration.
Running under the theme: “Tapping Engineering opportunities for accelerated African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) implementation, the two-day conference has brought over 500 engineers, stakeholders, students, and the public from the African continent.
Tayebwa also told engineers that both the Parliament and the government are pursuing measures to promote local content in the implementation of infrastructure projects.
He also warned Engineers to desist from corrupt practices as they compete for work or consultancy services.
Gen. Edward Katumba Wamala, the Minister of Works and Transport pledged to fast-track the Engineers Professionals Bill 2022 to help check masqueraders and also increase public confidence in the engineering profession.
He assured the engineers that the bill is already out of the cabinet.
”The bill is out of the cabinet and we are now getting the certificate of financial implication so that we push it to another level and I know when it gets to parliament, it’s a done deal,” Gen. Katumba said.
Eng. Papias Dedeki Kazawadi, the president of the Federation of the African Engineering Organization said for the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) to be implemented well, there is a need for deliberate collaboration between professionals including engineers among those that are key to the tapping of opportunities that AfCTA presents.
“The success of AfCTA will depend on the awareness and proactiveness of the professional institutions in trying to customize the science and technology that they have had to create opportunities that will lead to employment and job creation in Africa. This can only be the kind of special framework and tripartite collaboration between governments, civil societies, and professional bodies,” Kazawadi said.
He said the 26th edition of NTCE aims to create a platform where key stakeholders within the engineering fraternity can exchange knowledge, explore innovative ideas, share experiences, present research findings, and discuss cutting-edge technologies and approaches.
Andrew Muhwezi, the President Uganda Institution of Professional Engineers said that the conference will feature thought-provoking discussions on leveraging engineering expertise to enhance Uganda’s value proposition within the AfCFTA trade ecosystem, particularly by ensuring the availability of strategic engineering goods and services.