The 2018 Engineering Institution of Zambia (EIZ) Symposium and Annual General Meeting opened on Friday in Livingstone, with CEC and several other parties sounding a call to engineers to rise to the challenge and provide practical solutions to infrastructural challenges that the country is faced with in order to bring about meaningful social and economic transformation.
CEC has teamed up with its customer, Konkola Copper Mines Plc, to deliver a platinum sponsorship package valued at K350,000 to support what is billed to be the largest annual gathering of engineering professionals in Zambia. The theme for the symposium was ‘Engineering for an Innovative and Competitive Zambia’.
CEC’s Head – Government and Investor Relations Silvester Hibajene, delivered a speech focusing on two main areas namely, the need for innovation for enhanced competitiveness and the need to bridge the gap between industry and academia.
In tackling innovation for enhanced competitiveness, Hibajene pointed to the country’s growing population which he said had triggered an increase in demand for resources such as energy. He disclosed that Southern Africa, for instance, would require at least 65,000MW of available installed power generation capacity by 2022 to power industry; while Zambia, with an estimated population of 17million people would require at least 8,000MW to meet its population’s energy needs.
He observed that in addition to conventional energy sources, new and alternative sources of energy would be required, hence, the importance of innovation to keep the cost of energy low. Efficient energy use in production processes such as mineral extraction would also be cardinal; and all the while accommodating other human needs.
Hibajene emphasised that to lower the cost of energy, there was need to attract more investments into the sector and that for the sector to remain attractive to both local and foreign direct investment, the tariff structure must be predictable and guarantee the investor a predictable return on their investment. He also pointed out the need for consumers to use energy in an efficient manner to avoid waste.
“My organisation (CEC) is currently working with the regulator and all stakeholders in developing frameworks that will compel consumers across the country to consume power in a responsible and efficient manner as prescribed by the national grid code,” he disclosed.
In addressing the need to bridge gaps between industry and academia, Hibajene outlined some of CEC’s initiatives aimed at ensuring that the engineering syllabi in Zambia remained competitive and relevant to the very rapidly changing technology and engineering needs.
He cited the construction of a complete power system (composed of two substations, a transmission line complete with a control system) at the University of Zambia’s School of Engineering, the Company’s graduate development programme as well as support to the development of a curriculum in solar energy technology at the Copperbelt University as part of CEC’s recently constructed 1MW solar photovoltaic power plant.
Other initiatives include support rendered to the University of Zambia Student Research Group to participate, for the first time, in the 2017 Shell Eco-Marathon in which they were challenged to design, build and drive the most energy efficient car.
“Bridging the gap between industry and academia is the key to promoting innovation and sustainable employment. Industry is looking for innovative, skilled and experienced engineering professionals with a track record. However, our universities and colleges can only offer theory of the fundamentals of engineering,” Hibajene observed.
Hibajene, an engineer himself, said as technology was rapidly changing, and human needs and requirements were daily evolving, the expectations of society from engineers were also changing accordingly.
“It is practically impossible to expect the academia on its own to compress engineering fundamentals, adapt them to the rapidly changing technological and industry needs into a 3 to 5-year programme. Experience can simply not be taught in a classroom. Industry cannot also expect academia to invest in simulators in every aspect of engineering for training purposes,” he postulated.
He explained that CEC has done its part to partner with academia to offer real practical experience for young graduates as a way of accelerating innovation and productivity in the country.
“CEC is now in its third year of implementing the internship programme, the result of which has been overwhelming, with some graduates enrolled in the program being employed by the Company on completion of their internship,” he said.
The symposium, which has attracted close to 1000 delegates including students, was officially opened by Minister of Infrastructure and Housing, Mr. Ronald Chitotela, in the company of Southern Province Minister, Dr. Edify Hamukale, and other senior government officials.
Event in pictures