Cesa 2012 Conference and Exhibition

Events

Consulting Engineers South Africa or Cesa recently hosted a successful conference at the ICC in Durban attended by close to 200 delegates and 17 industry speakers.

In his welcome address President of Cesa, Naren Bhojaram, stated that the welfare of our planet, continent and profession is in our hands and that many issues have been created by us, but the good thing is that collectively we have the ability to fix them and hence the conference theme, “Unlocking Infrastructure Delivery and Restoring the Ethical Balance in Construction”. He states that greed in the industry has a direct impact on the growth, social wellbeing and financial health of our economy.

Dean Mogale from Business Unity South Africa (Busa) of which Cesa is a member, stated that the construction industry is the main driver of economic development which is vital in building a winning nation.

The recent census has shown a dramatic increase in urbanisation particularly in Gauteng and the Western Cape and our current infrastructure is not geared for this influx.

He went on to state that we cannot afford infrastructure mistakes and that the time for action is now.

The presidential infrastructure committee keeps on talking, but we see no action and the reality is that professionals need to be at the core of making this a possibility. Busa is partnering with Cesa in order to articulate the need for decisive leadership.

He concluded his presentation by stating that South Africans have to stand up and become involved asking the question, “What are we going to do for South Africa”.

Craig Lemboe from the Bureau for Economic Research at the University of Stellenbosch presented a paper on ‘The global and the South African economy – the long and the short of it’.

He stated that global growth is set to remain pedestrian in Q3 of this year, in the United States the economy is flat lining with employment in the doldrums, although the US economy is expected to show some growth there are still some risks with fiscal debts levels an issue.

Political dynamics play a significant role in boosting investor confidence. Domestic uncertainties in the last few weeks have outweighed global concerns with labour unrest in the mining, logistics and manufacturing industries having an impact on the rand's exchange rate.

In South Africa fixed investment growth is driven by the tremendous infrastructure spend by the government.

The good news is that the provinces are spending their budgets although municipalities, representing 43% of Capex are only spending 60% of their budgets due to inefficiencies and constraints.

The government's consumption followed by household consumption are the biggest drivers of the economy with fixed investment showing robust growth on the back of the government's infrastructure spend. A lot needs to be done to unlock infrastructure spend.

Enrico Vink Managing Director of the International Federation of Consulting Engineers (FIDIC) provided an international perspective focusing on enabling the development of a sustainable world and contributing to making the world a better place.

He stated that worldwide governments recognise that investment in infrastructure stimulates economic growth which is good business for the industry.

The industry contributes some 10% to the gross domestic product but that there is still a worldwide shortage of engineers. Consulting engineers have a profound effect on the natural environment and on society and that “Sustainability will dominate investment strategies in the future”.

Sipho Zikode, the deputy director-general at the department of trade and industry, started off by congratulating the consulting engineering industry for coming up with the industry charter code. 

He stated that the government’s objective was to transform the economy in order for South Africa to reach its potential with full participation for all.

They want to assist emerging enterprises to meaningfully contribute to the economy and change the culture to be supportive of entrepreneurship and diversification of value chains to score more points. 

He stated that it is the industry’s responsibility to report on progress in this regard.

Chris Campbell from the Engineering Council of South Africa (ECSA) addressed South Africa’s infrastructure challenges with a focus on skills development and eradicating corruption in procurement.

He stated that currently the ratio of engineers to citizens is 1:720 with it being 1:300 in other BRICS countries and this requires a long term action plan, but that there is no quick fix. 

As far as procurement is concerned he is calling for more engagement between government and the private sector and called for a separation of power and knowledge.

The conference presentations can be accessed via the Cesa website www.cesa.co.za.

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