#GlobalGoals #WorldEngDay2021 #WED2021 - To mark the second @UNESCO #WorldEngineeringDay for Sustainable Development (#SDG) on 4 March 2021 The Royal Academy of Engineering (@RAEngNews) is showcasing its impact on enhancing collaboration, education and diversity in engineering in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), delivered through its Africa grants programmes.

The achievements of the Africa grants programmes include:

  • Over 2000 professionals trained by Professional Engineering Institutions across SSA.
  • Over 530 student industry placements since 2013. Number of students obtaining industry internships increased from 40% to 90% over the course of one project in Zambia
  • Diversity & Inclusion initiatives have driven equal gender participation in programmes. A project from the Institute of Engineers Rwanda helped to increase the number of female internship applicants from 5% in 2018 to 25% in 2019.
  • 50 individual course curricula reviewed and improved as a result of industry–academia partnerships.
  • Almost 50 UK organisations and 400 in-country bodies involved as project partners so far.

The Academy has also released a #GlobalGoals #WorldEngDay2021 #WED2021 - highlighting how engineers play a critical role in meeting the UN Sustainable Development Goals and published a blog post by the Chair of the Academy’s International Committee, David Thomlinson FREng.

The Academy is helping to develop innovative solutions to a range of impending and accelerating challenges in SSA. Working with local higher education and engineering organisations, it is helping to grow engineering capacity and support sustainable development across 23 countries through two key programmes: Higher Education Partnerships in Sub-Saharan Africa (HEP SSA) and GCRF Africa Catalyst.

The first, HEP SSA, provides industry secondments for lecturers, equipping them to teach in line with the latest industry standards, while placements help their students to develop practical skills and to give them a better understanding of project cycles and networking opportunities. The programme addresses the gap between theoretical engineering knowledge taught to students across SSA and the practical application of such theory in industry.

Through strong alliances with partner academic institutions, the Academy is helping to reshape teaching requirements and facilitate more opportunities. At the University of Zambia this led to updating and aligning course content in line with industry requirements, while increasing the number of students obtaining industry internships from 40% to 90%.

The GCRF Africa Catalyst programme leverages the Academy’s extensive network and expertise to strengthen national engineering organisations. More than £3.5 million has been awarded through 37 projects across 14 countries to help these bodies promote better training, diversity and sustainability.

Launched in 2016, with support from the UK government’s Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF), the Africa Catalyst initiative allows engineers to focus on issues of specific importance to their relevant jurisdictions, while facilitating good governance practices.

The Academy aims to support the development of a diverse and future-fit workforce across the continent. It is estimated that fewer than 10% of engineering posts in Africa are currently occupied by women. GCRF Africa Catalyst has worked with Women in Engineering (WomEng) to promote gender diversity across a wide spectrum of professional experience. WomEng’s work with Eswatini’s Registration Council for Architects, Engineers, Surveyors and Allied Professionals has resulted in seven registered female members where they initially had none. A HEP SSA project with the Institute of Engineers Rwanda helped to increase the number of female internship applicants from 5% to 2018 to 25% in 2019.

Commenting on the progress achieved, Yewande Akinola MBE, a member of the Royal Academy of Engineering GCRF Africa Catalyst Committee, said:

“While we see immediate improvements in skills and innovation through these programmes, the real win is establishing a framework for lasting change. This will equip communities in Africa to anticipate and plan for the challenges posed by climate change, urbanisation and economic development. The continent is transforming rapidly, and those engineering its future need the skills to think on their feet.

“By developing strong alliances between local partners in sub-Saharan Africa and the UK, we can enable learning, collaboration and sharing of best practice, which in turn will build skills to boost innovation. But there is much more to be done, which needs the continued support of investors and partners.”

The Academy’s Africa grants programmes facilitate learning and collaboration between engineers in sub-Saharan Africa and the UK to boost innovation and tackle shared challenges. The flagship programmes, HEP SSA and GCRF Africa Catalyst, connect engineers in industry and education from sub-Saharan Africa and the UK, creating strong alliances to support sustainable development. Its overall goal is to enhance social and economic development in Africa by enabling a diverse and future fit workforce.

The Royal Academy of Engineering harnesses the power of engineering to build a sustainable society and an inclusive economy that works for everyone. In collaboration with our Fellows and partners, we’re growing talent and developing skills for the future, driving innovation and building global partnerships, and influencing policy and engaging the public. Together we’re working to solve the greatest challenges of our age.

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