VP consults engineers on project delays, corruption

By Henry Mwangonde , The Guardian
Published at 08:08 AM May 28 2024
Vice President Dr Philip Mpango addresses the 30th International Federation of Consulting Engineers’ Africa Infrastructure Conference in Dar es Salaam yesterday.
Photo: VPO
Vice President Dr Philip Mpango addresses the 30th International Federation of Consulting Engineers’ Africa Infrastructure Conference in Dar es Salaam yesterday.

VICE President Dr Philip Mpango has challenged African consulting engineers to craft solutions to the untimely completion of projects and corruption which are derailing efforts to attain African Union’s agenda 2063.

Speaking at the Africa infrastructure conference convened by the International Federation of Consulting Engineer (FIDIC) marking its 30th anniversary in Dar es Salaam yesterday, the VP said that African countries face challenges related to the consulting engineering profession.

Key problems include untimely completion of projects, exorbitant pricing due to corruption in mega projects and inadequate technical capacity of local engineers, he said, highlighting other challenges as late or non-compliance with tax obligations.

Such obligations are paramount when given tenders, he said, also pointing at the lack of loan financing for local engineers compared to foreign consulting engineers, he said, citing data that in 2022 Tanzania awarded $178m worth projects (52-percent of total) to foreign consulting engineers. This was due to lack of capacity among locals, he said.

He described infrastructure as key to achieving sustainable development, as there is a need for developing sustainable and climate friendly infrastructure to attain Africa's agenda 2063.

Earlier, Works deputy minister Godfrey Kasekenya said the conference was a platform to discuss transformation of the sector, changing the landscape of collaboration and innovation among engineers at the continental level.

"This is a platform to celebrate successes achieved but also to assess if the successes align with the aspirations we hold," he said, citing the setting up of the Engineers Registration Board (ERB) in 1997 as having helped to attain progress in the engineering sector.

He expressed worries over evident imbalance o between the ratio of the consulting and construction industry where the presence of women is minimal, urging the need to explore strategies for a sector trajectory, emphasising that “there is much more to cover, we need to double our efforts."

Prof Patrick Lumumba, the director of the Kenya School of Law, said African engineers must engage in fruitful discussions on how to build sustainable and sufficient infrastructure for sustainable development.

It is time for Africa to rise and realise existing potential towards crafting infrastructure policies that will successfully surmount impediments towards realising sustainable development, he stated.

Chedi Masambaji, president of the Association of Consulting Engineers Tanzania (ACET) said the conference offers room for local consulting engineers to share knowledge and expertise, seeing the conference as a platform that gives engineers the room to discuss myriad problems facing the continent.

FIDIC Africa president Abe Thele recalled that in 2022, the Centre for Global Development said 600m people lack access to electricity and four million lack access to clean water. Only 30-percent of Africa's rural roads are passable all year long, meanwhile as the African Development Bank (AfDB) affirms that Africa needs $170bn annually to reverse this state of affairs.

The challenges require innovation to address by applying unique methods to the entire infrastructure value chain, with environmentally friendly infrastructure management that is key to usable innovation and planning, he added.