The South African Institution of Civil Engineering (SAICE) is in its 110th year, an achievement of which we can all be proud and for which we, as well as South Africa, owe a debt of gratitude to those who have gone before us.

Each decade in SAICE’s history can be characterised by a dominant focus – the first decade being railways, the second being irrigation, the third being sanitation and the fourth being roads, and so forth.

Also, during SAICE‘s history the country, our continent, and indeed the world, have undergone significant changes, some revolutionary and some evolutionary. These include the invention of the motor vehicle, aircraft and computers; independence of African countries; change in international power balances and revolutions across the world aimed at altering the then existing order.

What does this changing world hold for SAICE and its members in the next decade (the 12th in SAICE’s history)?

The implementation of the Strategic Integrated Projects (SIPs), which give part effect to South Africa’s newly accepted National Development Plan, will be a significant focus.  In addition a ‘wind of change’ is again sweeping across Africa while international interest in Africa is increasing due to growth in the East and difficulties in the West.

These events create both opportunities for SAICE and its members, as well as threats, calling on us to work with others to reposition engineering in its rightful place, to utilise our engineering skills assets to the full, to actively work towards removing hindrances that preclude engineering practitioners from doing what we should be doing, and for us to approach things differently (possibly more militantly) during the coming decade.

Arising from our history, the evolution of civil engineering, the need for far-reaching changes in the way things are done, and recent moves to greater unity of engineering in Africa, SAICE coined the term CIVILUTION.

Many of the issues facing engineering are contentious, and, moving forward there will be divergent views and disparate aspirations. Also, much that is required will take us out of our comfort zones and could be perceived as being against our own self-interest, thereby requiring a CIVILUTION.

The term aptly illustrates what we need to do to redress the parlous state of our industry, namely to raise and address controversial issues that will enable our members to fulfil their rightful roles, and for the industry to provide an improved service to the various constituencies that benefit from engineering.

We will elaborate more fully on CIVILUTION in subsequent articles. After meeting with a number of organisations over the last few weeks, it is clear to me that the concept of CIVILUTION is catching fire. The time for CIVILUTION is indeed now.


1 Comment

  1. The word Civilution has been peddled around for some time now but there are many of us who do not have the foggiest idea of what it actually means and what it is supposed to do.
    There is the statement that far-reaching changes in the way we do things are needed but again with no explanations. The fact that the way things are done now, certainly in the consulting industry, have the effect of cheapening the value of good engineering skills in favour of the cheapest price for doing what starts out in many cases as an ill-defined project.
    Our skills base is being destroyed by fee competition and BBEEE preference at the expense of other more skill-creating win-win approaches. We are sacrificed on the altar of the cheapest job and yet have to assume much greater risk for which we cannot price as contractors are allowed to do. Furthermore consultants are the only profession I know who are penalised for innovation through the fee scale arrangement. Should the client not share the savings arising out of innovation.
    Our first priority is to put the skills and value of engineers in the public for without them the SIP’s won’t happy. Are we happy that almost all our major consulting firms are now foreign-owned while another is claiming projects on their literature with which they had no direct involvement.

Leave a Reply