SAICE - International Colleagues

AFRICA ENGINEERS FORUM - Protocol of Understanding

(First Edition 2001)
(Second edition 2004)

The continent of Africa has vast natural and human resources which remain largely underdeveloped, underutilized and untapped due to various negative influences that for example include:

  • The local political and social instability that plague many countries
  • The environmental challenges prevalent in Africa including natural disasters caused by both natural phenomena as well as human interventions
  • Large scale illiteracy and a lack of skills and technological expertise due to a lack of education and training
  • Large scale illness due to poor infrastructure and pandemics including malaria and HIV AIDS
  • Globalization issues that often marginalize African countries due to economic policies driven by the more developed countries of the world and consequential exploitation of resources and raw materials
  • Ill advised aid and donor programmes driven by more developed countries and international funding agencies and structures, which do not necessarily take the principles of affordability, sustainability, appropriate technology, transfer of skills and lack of indigenous capacity into account

The philosophy of an African Renaissance and the subsequent NEPAD initiative is aimed at developing the African human and natural resources for the benefit of all in Africa and to enable Africa to compete in the global markets according to current best practice principles, including codes of good conduct and environmental awareness and responsibility.

The demands of the philosophy of Sustainable Development can only be met if the principles of Sustainable Engineering are adhered to. This concept prescribes striving for appropriate, affordable and sustainable engineering services and infrastructure within the local environment. This concept in turn necessitates the development and maintenance of indigenous scientific and technological skills and expertise supported and facilitated by the key stakeholders including government, private enterprise, academic and professional structures.

Since engineering knows no human-made or geographical boundaries, Africa and its people have to share many issues and challenges of common interest.

It was with the above challenges in mind that in 1995 the South African Institution of Civil Engineering used the model of the International Round table of the American Society of Civil Engineers to establish the Africa Forum (AF). This forum was meant to facilitate and promote networking and liaison within Africa by means of co-operation agreements. The AF was established by the signing of co-operation agreements between SAICE and various African Engineering Societies located in Zimbabwe, Ghana, Kenya, Namibia and Tanzania.

In 2000 an AF task group agreed to establish the Africa Engineers Forum (AEF) which would build upon the earlier initiative to facilitate more inclusive and broader co-operation of African Engineers in order to promote and foster sustainable development within an African context.

Subsequently a number of joint initiatives were successfully completed including hosting of guest lectures, the International Bridge building Competition for school learners, and workshops on how to achieve international recognition for academic qualifications and professional status in engineering. Exchange of information of common interest and exchange of publications were also facilitated by the AEF participants.

At the World Summit for Sustainable Development in Johannesburg South Africa in 2001, the World Federation of Engineering Organizations co-hosted an event at which several Africa Engineering initiatives and philosophies, including the AEF protocol, were presented. This resulted in an invitation to AEF participants by WFEO, to attend their 2003 Congress in Tunis as well as to participate in an African Engineers Day event.

At the Africa Engineers Day in Tunis an attempt was made to revitalize the Federation of African Engineering Organizations (FAEO). This process is currently ongoing.

The model for the future

The geographic differences, vast distances, physical, financial capacity and multilingual diversity of Africa pose enormous challenges to the ideal of a single body to serve the interests of the engineering professionals on the continent. A body which could accommodate regional chapters or sectors would most probably be conducive to enhanced progress with OBJECTIVES AND GOALS.

The idea of clusters is furthermore supported by the way in which the current NEPAD initiative operates. NEPAD is managed within a structure that was developed to take into account the diversity aspects of Africa, and operates in the form of a number of regional units.

The signatories of the AEF protocol will ultimately consider emulating the NEPAD regional model regarding participation in the WFEO structures. The AEF will also explore models of integration and co-operation with WFEO and FAEO

Value systems for the AEF

The African Engineers Forum consists of national volunteer associations of engineering professionals to provide technical leadership in support and enhancement of the principles of:

  • wealth creation
  • sustainable engineering as a prerequisite for development
  • quality of life
  • holistic education and training for capacity building


AEF strives to ensure an appropriate level of efficient human resource capacity in the built environment professions but in particular engineering, to enable Africa to ultimately achieve sustainable development for all the people of Africa.


AEF contributes resources and expertise in partnership with key stakeholders to accomplish the transfer and assimilation of the value of the best practice principles of sustainable development to identified communities at all levels.

Principal Value systems

AEF upholds the following key value systems in the quest to achieve the national and African goals regarding sustainable engineering as a pre-requisite for Sustainable Development:

  • Inclusivity: The AEF strives to be inclusive of all communities and demographic groups
  • Transformation: The AEF is committed to ensure that the profession of engineering becomes fully transformed in terms of African demographics and to ensure that all communities are able to participate in the economy and contribute to the growth and well-being of the continent
  • Transparency: The AEF is transparent in all dealings with its partners, associates and supporting networks
  • Responsibility: The AEF takes responsibility for its role in the professional and industrial environment and therefore addresses support systems, wealth creation and quality of life enhancing initiatives through its OUTREACH programmes concerning CPD, access to technical information, best practice procurement and standards documentation, career guidance and associated advice
  • Community awareness: The AEF reaches out to all communities in need of engineering services and capacity building assistance
  • Commitment: The AEF is committed to achieving its objectives through sharing of skills and knowledge in an unbiased, non-competitive way
  • Professionalism: The AEF is committed to act according to acceptable professional ethical standards
  • Networking: The AEF fosters and encourages networking with engineering organizations and cooperate with African organizations as well as continental and international umbrella organizations in the Built Environment


    The AEF is committed to pursue the goals as set out in the Protocol of Understanding in order to achieve its objectives. The goals as described in the protocol of understanding are aimed at achieving the following outcomes:

    • Excellence in engineering technology in Africa
    • Informed and intelligent decision-making about built environment infrastructure by all Governments structures and Private sector entities by utilizing human capacity building orientation programmes and projects
    • A sufficient pool of competent professionals by and through:
        Offering and pursuing awareness and orientation programmes, projects and activities regarding the role of Engineering and Technology
        Promotion of interest in Mathematics and Science at higher grades in primary and secondary schools
        Offering career guidance programmes and activities
        Promoting consistent investment mechanisms for infrastructure and promoting fair and reasonable remuneration for all engineering practitioners
        Facilitating mentorship
        Offering continued professional development opportunities
    • Sustainable professional frameworks and organizational structures in Africa by:
        Creating permanent facilities and administrative mechanisms to support the Built Environment Professionís activities and programmes.
    • An awareness relating to AEF activities in order to prepare the countries, itís people and itís decision-makers for the challenges of the future by:
        Utilizing the opportunities offered to enhance the image and raise the public awareness about the role and value of engineering and industry in particular, and engineering and the built environment in general.
    • Support the development of entrepreneurship in the engineering environment

    AEF Protocol of Understanding and Cooperation
    In order to achieve engineering excellence and create a better quality of life for all in Africa, the signatories to this protocol agree to affiliate themselves with the African Engineers Forum to promote the following principles, philosophies, activities, programmes, initiatives and elements which represent a collection of pre-requisites for sustainable engineering as a pre-requisite for sustainable development:

    1. Develop and uphold the AEF concepts about Sustainable Development
    2. Communicate at a technical level amongst all engineering professionals, resident within and outside Africa
    3. Develop and implement alliance and integration models for AEF interaction and networking with other continental and international engineering and other built environment organizations
    4. Promote and accept internationally accepted norms in terms of conduct, integrity, ethics, engineering standards and care for our people and our environment
    5. Develop and maintain acceptable and appropriate frameworks to accredit and recognise educational qualifications and professional standards to facilitate reciprocity and equity
    6. Encourage and facilitate ongoing learning and professional development for engineering professionals
    7. Set up and maintain an Africa electronic database for technical information linked to the websites of the AEF signatories and other partners of strategic importance and relevance
    8. Exchange information and sharing of experiences regarding engineering practice
    9. Disseminate relevant published technical papers, articles and editorials
    10. Exchange and provide access to technical journals and magazines for reference purposes
    11. Arrange professional and technical networking opportunities and events within the influence sphere of participating organizations in cooperation with the other participants in AEF and make use of the potential contribution and assistance of the African diaspora engineers
    12. Set up, maintain and manage an events database concerning annual programmes of events, including those relating to continuous professional development, for the purpose of forward planning and co-ordination
    13. Communicate, accept and implement best practice in terms of desirable and appropriate local and internationally recognized engineering standards, processes, procedures, methods or systems in relation to the delivery processes and the life cycle of products and assets
    14. Facilitate the harmonization of standards, documentation, methods and procedures as appropriate
    15. Promote the use of procurement as an instrument for development and capacity building
    16. Promote and facilitate entry to and equality for all demographic and gender groups in the engineering profession
    17. Provide a platform for influential African engineering professionals who can influence best policy practices by all levels of decision making in government and private sector
    18. Facilitate and promote networking amongst African tertiary educational institutions involved in engineering related education.
    19. Facilitate and promote appropriate education and training for engineering professionals dealing with the challenges of rural development.
    20. Facilitate and offer public awareness programmes in order to enhance the visibility and recognition of the role of the engineering profession in African civil society.
    21. Promote and support pertinent science and technology policy including the extension of research and development initiatives by Governments in Africa.
    22. Develop and offer capacity building programmes in order to develop a pool of knowledgeable decision-makers, clients and users of engineering infrastructure and services.
    23. Invite and facilitate government and private sector participation in engineering practice and related matters.
    24. Develop, promote, facilitate and lobby for the acceptance of best practice policies relating to foreign investment and donor involvement and influence in Africa
    25. Promote appropriate curricula at schools to prepare and enable learners to enter into the field of engineering.
    26. Develop and provide outreach and career guidance programmes for all school learners.

    The signatories pledge to seek all reasonable opportunities to cooperate and liaise with one another in order to achieve the objectives as set out in this agreement and other relevant documentation as agreed.

    Proposed administration arrangements for the AEF

    It is hereby agreed that for the effective functioning of the AEF, it is necessary:

    • that a business plan is developed by the end of 2004 to guide the signatories to set up, fund and manage the AEF and its activities and programmes
    • that a chair be elected to serve a two year term according to a rotational system
    • that the AEF secretariat be elected by the signatories on an agreed rotational basis
    • That the terms of the chair and the secretariat should overlap
    • that the signatories be convened by the secretariat at least once a year
    • that task groups be appointed at formal meetings to focus on specific areas as outlined in the Protocol of understanding
    • that signatories would assist with liaison in their countries with other built environment organizations and associated engineering structures
    • signatories would lobby and influence their respective Governments and their local communities to support, promote the principles and objectives of the protocol, to provide funding support and where applicable recognition and accreditation for the AEF

    Disclaimer: Since the Africa Engineers Forum has no legal or constitutional status, signatories to this protocol will not in any way be legally or constitutionally bound or required to conform to this document or any resolution taken by the African Engineers Forum

    Recognition is given to the following signatories of agreements of co-operation and of the AEF protocol of understanding in Harare in 2001

    Botswana Institution of Engineers
    Kenya Institution of Engineers
    Ghana institution of Engineers
    South African Institution of Civil Engineering
    Tanzania Institution of Engineers
    Zimbabwe institution of Engineers
    Engineering Professions Association of Namibia
    Uganda Institution of Engineers


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