The role of engineers in a sustainable Africa

Engineering is often referred to as the workhorse of innovation. For the African continent, innovation has the power to shape and change the lives of its people and transforming its socioeconomic environment.

When engineers use their skills to solve problems and create new ways of generating greater benefits, they are doing more than just a job, they are making a difference in their communities. Leveraging on local people skills and know-how is key to a thriving sustainable continent.

Mike Huth, Projects Director at CSI Energy Group, shares his views on why skills development and training local engineers are a priority and part of the organization’s philosophy as we work on bringing sustainable solutions to the energy sector across Africa.


From your perspective, why engineers are key to the development of a sustainable Africa?


Sustainability is a collective effort, driven by a whole organization, team or community, but some individuals tend to play a bigger role and engineers is an excellent example. Whether it's a new piece of technology, a new machine, or the construction of a power plant, engineers work to find solutions to daily problems and challenges, with a view to enhance our life.  They play a key role in meeting the challenges of the newly adopted Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Combining their skills set, together with engineering technologists, they can play a key role in water management (goal 6), access to energy (goal 7) and the creation of strong, lasting infrastructure (goal 9) and cities (goal 11). This is just to name a few, as engineering directly or indirectly impacts other sustainable development goals. But there is still a long way to go for engineering in Africa, as we look for more and more relevant skills.


Skilling and empowering African engineers can change the future of the continent. How far do you agree with this statement?


For sure! I tend to believe that the more we can educate, empower, and foster a culture of independence, the more our people will be able to flourish, and in turn become leaders and change-makers which will enable Africa to thrive. Throughout my career, I have noticed some traits that are important and needed to ensure innovation and work with impact; creative problem solving, willingness to learn from your peers, dedication to the mission and curiosity.


What is the importance of combined technical and soft skills?


Soft skills are as important as technical skills! We work on major projects in Africa, from the recently completed 83MW Olkaria I, Additional Unit (AU) 6 Geothermal Power Plant in Kenya, to the current 185MW Kinyerezi 1 Power Plant Extension Project in Tanzania, and for us to deliver projects up to international standards, we need to have highly performing teams. It is true that we look for people who have the technical skills to deliver safe projects and honouring our clients’ trust, but we also look for those who have strong communications skills, build positive relationships with stakeholders, and show leadership qualities. These are, among others, becoming essential skills for workers in engineering sectors.


What are the engineering career opportunities available at CSI Energy Group?


From an engineering perspective the EPC (Engineering, Procurement and Construction) Division of CSI Energy Group requires engineers in all fields. Our core team consists of Civils, Electrical and Mechanical engineers, and these are supported by a team of engineers for the projects for Scheduling, Quality control, Quantity Surveying and Safety & Environment. At CSI Energy Group, we empower young Graduates, increasing their knowledge and experience on projects to enable them to best utilise the engineering education they have achieved this far.