The Federation of African Engineering Organizations (FAEO) has officially launched its Industry Sector Working Groups (ISWoG) – a new development – to foster collaboration between the diverse engineering industries in Africa on August 1st, 2022.

“FAEO recognizes that as engineers, we work within certain industries, and it's important to get these industries on board,” President of the federation, Ing. (Mrs.) Carlien Bou–Chedid, pointed out this at the organisation's virtual event for the launch.

FAEO believes the Industry Sector Working Groups (ISWoG) are necessary for Africa's potential to be fully realised. Thus, by opening up these channels, African countries can rely on their initiative and ingenuity to drive social and economic development.

The Working Groups will foster cooperation between engineers throughout Africa in many sectors to ensure inclusive and long-lasting development. They are uniquely positioned to contribute significantly to developing clean, affordable, and scalable solutions to local problems through research and innovation.

Importantly, the Industry Sector Working Groups (ISWoG) are the engine that will power Africa’s strategic growth and development.

Furthermore, the Industry Sector Working Groups align with FAEO’s overall objective to promote and advance the science and practice of engineering for the benefit of society in Africa and globally. That will help FAEO reach its five-year strategic plan (2019–2024) that will take on much innovation.

The groups comprise seven working groups, each made up of Chairs of the Working Groups, Rapporteurs, Members of the Working Groups, Members of Forums, and National Members for Nominations.

“However, further nominees are expected from Women in Engineering, FAEO Board Members, and the Regional Groups of FAEO” Ing. (Mrs.) Carlien Bou–Chedid stated.

Seven Working Groups   

The Energy Working Group chaired by Eng. Iyanda Ajiboye of Nigeria, who, in his remarks, made a promise to President Ing. (Mrs.) Carlien Bou–Chedid.

“We will put in our very best, and we will want to make a substantial contribution for energy access and the transition into a lighted continent.”

According to Eng. Iyanda Ajiboye, apart from the working group bringing up ideas, they should be a forum for wider consultation and wider discussion.

He added, "as we inaugurate the Industry Sector Working Groups, we will be able to move our continent forward Engineering-wise.”

The Manufacturing Working Group chaired by Eng. Pascal Motsoasele from South Africa said “the manufacturing working group aims to advance the interests of the manufacturing sector under the FAEO umbrella of objectives. We also want to align with FAEO's five-year strategic plan. And also to make a sizable contribution towards attaining the millennial development goals”.

The Water and Sanitation Working Group chaired by  Eng. Jimmy Biyomotho from Uganda also said  “FAEO has given us a very big responsibility and assignment, and this assignment can not be achieved without a teamwork spirit. This assignment is huge, this assignment is very big, and it requires us to work as a very great team.”

 The Extractive Industry Working Group headed by Eng. Gwakisa Mwakyusa from Tanzania, for his part said “we understand that as a working group, we've got a lot to look at, and we'll try our very best”.

He added that “we generally have an idea like the issues with policy alignment as we understand, there is a lot of misalignment between countries as far as the extractive industry is concerned. But we understand that there's an African Mining Vision, AMV of 2009, which is the guidance of the African Union. So we'll also look into it and see how we can harmonize countries in the lines that our heads of state agreed to look at the mining industry together as a continent”..

 The Construction Working Group presided over by Eng. Shammah Kiteme from Kenya. Eng. Shammah Kiteme clarified during the launch that the Construction Working Group has started exchanging ideas. “Our first issues to discuss were actually the pressing issues with construction in Africa that FAEO needs to look at,” he hinted.

“A couple of things came up including finding construction projects, financing local farms, a couple of jobs in Africa being taken up by the foreign farms, issues of skills transfer, and African standards across the construction industry,  cost inflation in construction projects, complexities in most people projects, quality of works and corruption”, he explained

“We do hope to continue to generate ideas and come up with the paper that is required so that it can help the board to continue to engage governments, AU, and other platforms globally,” he mentioned.

The Information Technology Working Group, with its chair being Dr. Ismail Taha from Egypt suggested that FAEO and the IT Working Groups must develop a strategic digital transformation plan for the African continent, or at least put up the framework each country would utilize to develop its digital transformation plan.

“As we all know, digital transformation is the process of digitally bringing organizational changes in all business operations. It's a way of changing how we function and deliver values to stakeholders. It can be considered as actual change that obliges the organization to challenge current situations and experiment repeatedly,” Dr. Ismail Taha mentioned.

“The digital transformation plans include building ERP solutions. Enterprise Resource Planning solutions using cloud computing, the internet of things, big data artificial intelligence, blockchain, technology, any WI-FI communication methods, and e-commerce.”

 The Transportation Working Group chaired by Dr. William Ackaah from Ghana also said “transport plays a major role in the socio-economic development of any country. But we have challenges here in Africa in terms of traffic congestion, infrastructure, transport services, road safety, and the technology to deal with these”.

He blamed these challenges on rapid urbanisation, saying that “most African cities are experiencing traffic congestion issues. This issue has the propensity to cause delay, environmental pollution, noise, frustrate motorists and commuters, and leads to crashes and degradation of road infrastructure.”

In compliance with what Dr. William Ackaah made mentioned, this is the first issue the continent needs to tackle. There's also the issue with infrastructure and transport services.

“Most African countries are lacking in terms of infrastructure.” “So we're going to work together as a group and then find out how to solve these problems, how we can build capacity in the area, and what areas we need to encourage research and innovations. And I hope to get the cooperation of all the working group members so we may meet the organization's aspirations,” he told the launch.

The  Industry Sector Working Groups (ISWoG) will serve as an advisory body on the current and future trends in the industry. That will guide education and training, capacity building, research and innovation, and finally, Governments, Development Banks, Partners, and other relevant bodies on policies, investment needs, and best practices.

Their work will be to harmonize industry sector standards and advise on measures required to facilitate the mobility of engineering practitioners. The ISWoG’s activities will encompass discussion forums, conferences, meetings, funded projects, exhibitions, specialist publications, position papers, discussion papers, and advisory papers, among others.

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