The Committees and Executive Council of the World Federation of Engineering Organisations (WFEO) met in Ljubljana, Slovenia from the 16 to 20 September. The WFEO standing committees met to review and discuss their activities during the current year, as well as forthcoming programmes. Simultaneously, the World Engineering Forum (WEF) with the theme “Sustainable Construction for People” took place on 18 and 19 September. The President of the Republic of Slovenia officially opened the event.
The South African group attended various committee meetings held during the conference, namely Engineering and the Environment, Women in Engineering, Education in Engineering, Energy, Engineering and Innovative Technology, Disaster Risk Management, Engineering Capacity Building, Information and Communication, Anti-Corruption and the Young Engineers/Future Leaders. South Africa hosted the Committee on Engineering Capacity Building (CECB) of the WFEO. Chris Campbell welcomed all members. A special mention was made of Professor Ales Breznikar who represented Slovenia. It was noted that the original English version of the Capacity Building Guidelines was currently available on the SAICE website (www.saice.org.za) and would be posted on the WFEO website under the CECB page. The Capacity Building Guidelines will be translated into various languages and attendees volunteered to assist with the translations. Many new opportunities arose during the CECB meeting.
Other highlights for SAICE was that the first Southern African Federation of Engineering Organisations (SAFEO) meeting that was held with the President of SAFEO, Martin Manuhwa at the WFEO conference. The SAICE delegation also met with the Honorary Consul, Mr Janez Pergar for the Consulate of the Republic of South Africa. The Consul discussed the lack of infrastructure projects in Slovenia over the past few years, and how this has caused the demise of engineering consulting and construction companies in Slovenia. There appears to be a reintroduction of some projects but the results of the previous impact on companies remain, and there are fewer engineering companies to take on work. This is an excellent example for South Africa of what not to do. South Africa has to prevent long- term negative impacts on the construction industry. Given the fact that government in South Africa struggles to roll out projects due to a lack of technical capacity, particularly at local government level, does not bode well for the industry.
Whilst in Slovenia, SAICE President Dr Martin van Veelen, Vice President, Mr Tom McKune and SAICE CEO, Mr Manglin Pillay met with Messrs S.L Garg, President of the Institution of Engineers India (IEI), R.P.Gupta, IEI past President and Ashok Basa to sign a Memorandum of Understanding between SAICE and IEI. Both Presidents stated that this was a historic event for both organisations and it was hoped that the association would be long and mutually beneficial. The relationship between SAICE and the IEI in the built environment and engineering institutional context is reflective of, and aligned to the political and economic landscape of South Africa’s relationship with the BRICS countries.