The Deputy Speaker, Thomas Tayebwa has challenged engineers to put innovation at the centre 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) 2023 organised by the Uganda Institution of Professional Engineers (UIPE), 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 high cost of road construction in most of our countries,” Tayebwa added.
The Deputy Speaker cited an example of Entebbe Expressway, a 53km highway with four lanes.
About US$9 million was spent per kilometre, which brought the total cost to US$476 million. While Kenya’s Thika highway, a 50km road with eight lanes cost about US$7.2 million per kilometre with a total cost of US$360 million.
He said the profession will have to take a 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 labour is a little bit close and the cost of materials are also in the same price range,” he said.
Running under the theme, “Tapping engineering opportunities for accelerated African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) implementation, the two-day conference has brought together over 500 engineers, stakeholders and students from across Africa.
The Minister of Works and Transport, Gen. Edward Katumba Wamala 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 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,” Katumba Wamala said.
Eng. Papias Dedeki Kazawadi, the President of the Federation of the African Engineering Organisation said for the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) to be implemented well, there is need for deliberate collaboration between professionals.
“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,” 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 Institute 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.