The first meeting of the Transport sector discussion group took place on 19 March 2020. In the photograph from left to right are Nazir Alli, Pierre Lombard, Dr Trueman Goba, Herman Joubert and Dr Pine Pienaar. Professors Wynand Steyn and James Maina and Stefan Hrabar attended the meeting via Teams
Academy project to provide government with evidence-based advice
Early in 2020 the Executive Committee of SAAE enlisted the assistance of the Fellows of SAAE to establish expert discussion groups to consider issues of national importance and to provide evidence-based advice to government on these issues. Initially five such expert groups were formed to look at water and sanitation, energy, engineering education, transport and the engineering profession respectively. The Executive Committee plans to form more such groups in the future.
The Water sector discussion group was most active and has already sent four advisory notes to the President and relevant Ministers and officials. These advisories dealt with the prioritisation of strategic investments, the state of water services in South African municipalities, the extent of municipal water loss and the importance of hydrological data.
The Transport discussion group directed a letter to the Minister of Transport, Mr Fikile Mbalula, to offer SAAE’s assistance to meet the challenges of South Africa’s transport infrastructure.
Since 27 March 2020 all meetings of the groups are virtual which enables SAAE Fellows everywhere in South Africa and even outside the country to take part in this project.
During October 2018 SAAE undertook a project to evaluate the support provided by the Strategic Water Partners Network (SWPN) for the No-Drop Programme of the Department of Water and Sanitation. Fellows Bob Pullen and Neil Macleod undertook the project on behalf of SAAE with the assistance of other experts in the field of water supply.

Royal Academy of Engineering (RAE): GCRF Africa Catalyst Initiative
Pilot Study for the Africa Catalyst Initiative

The Africa Catalyst Initiative, with the objective of developing and strengthening the institutions in the engineering profession in sub-Sahara countries, was originally conceived by the World Federation of Engineering Organizations (WFEO). An expected outcome is the strengthening of the Africa Federation of Engineering Organizations (AFEO) and an increase in the number and standard of engineering programmes offered by Universities in the region. In 2016 the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) in the UK agreed to support the initiative. The GCRF appointed the Royal Academy of Engineering in the UK (RAE) as Implementing Agent.
The SA Academy of Engineering (SAAE) successfully applied for a grant from the GCRF to undertake an investigation of the capacity of institutions in the engineering profession in Swaziland and SAAE signed a Service Level Agreement with the RAE in terms of which SAAE received a grant from the RAE to undertake a Pilot Study regarding the Development of Institutional Capacity in the Engineering Profession in Swaziland. This was one of 15 Pilot Studies in sub-Sahara Africa in the Africa Catalyst programme.
The SAAE Project Team attended a workshop in Addis Ababa in April 2017 to make a presentation on progress with the project. The project is scheduled for completion in June 2017. Mr Bob Pullen, the Project Leader, and SAAE Fellow Johann du Plessis, the Deputy Project Leader, made three trips to Swaziland to carry out consultations with stakeholders in the Engineering Profession. The list of stakeholders was compiled by the Counterpart Professionals in Swaziland and comprised individual professionals, consulting engineering firms, Government Departments, Municipal officials, industries, state-owned companies (in the water and electricity sectors), the University of Lesotho, the Swaziland College of Training (SCOT), and most importantly four existing institutions.
In terms of the Service Contract with the RAE the main deliverable was a report in which a Draft Implementation Plan for developing and strengthening the institutions in the engineering profession in Swaziland was proposed.
After the successful completion of the Phase 1 Pilot Study the RAE invited bids for Phase II of the Africa Catalyst Initiative funded by the GCRF. Phase 2 will focus on Capacity Building in Institutions in the engineering profession and on research related to Engineering Education in sub-Sahara Africa countries. The Executive Committee of SAAE submitted a bid for a grant in Phase 2 for implementing a capacity building project in Swaziland. A large number of bids were received by the RAE and the SAAE was not successful in securing this funding. The indications are that the limited human resource capacity available to SAAE was an important factor in this outcome. As the strengthening of the professional engineering institutions in Swaziland is vitally important, and expectations have been raised in Phase 1, the SAAE is considering ways to find the necessary funding to continue with this project, albeit on a limited scale.


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