A delegation of South African businesspersons called on the Engineering Institution of Zambia (EIZ) on Wednesday, 14 August 2019. The team represented the Built Environment and Manufacturing subsector clusters of the high-powered delegation of the private entrepreneurs who are in Zambia, under the auspices of the Department of Trade and Industry of South Africa, to interact with Zambian stakeholders to look for investment opportunities and other business synergies. The Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry, through its investments promotions’ arm, the Zambia Development Agency (ZDA). ZDA is coordinating the identification of local stakeholders that could potentially partner with South African counterparts. ZDA identified EIZ as a key stakeholder that has, in its membership, individuals, organizations and units in both the built environment and the manufacturing sector.
The EIZ team was led by President Sydney M Matamwandi and comprised the Vice President for Policy (Eugene Haazele), Acting Registrar (Happy Musumali) and Regional Manager (David Kamungu) and the meeting took place at Privatization House in Lusaka.
Eng Matamwandi apprised the investors on the mandate, composition and objectives of EIZ as related to encouraging and promoting the interests of its members to participate and prosper in the engineering sector while adhering to professionalism and applying engineering standards. He explained that EIZ has been in existence for over 60 years and comprises over 45,000 individual members and about 3,500 engineering organizations operating in most sectors of the economy, including agriculture, construction, energy, manufacturing, mining, telecommunications, and water and sanitation. The EIZ President stressed that Zambia was generally well-endowed with the presence of a huge number of highly trained and experienced engineering personnel with requisite skills that are highly sought-after in the SADC region and beyond. The categories of members comprise Engineers (degree holders), Associate Engineers or Technologists (Diploma holders) and Artisans (Technician and Crafts’ Certificate Holders), trained locally and from various other reputable engineering universities and technical colleges in Europe, China, RSA and USA. He further explained that foreign engineers can practice in Zambia and are always registered and regulated by EIZ. As much as it’s the desire to have Zambians in most engineering jobs in Zambia, EIZ does work closely with the Department of Immigration to facilitate acquisition of work permits and the registration of foreign engineers and technicians with rare skills and experiences that are not available in Zambia. However, EIZ does not encourage the importing of technicians that want to come to do jobs that can be done by Zambians. He also emphasised that EIZ has registered a number of South African Engineering Organizations and Engineering Professionals who are practising in Zambia and enjoying all the rights and privileges of membership. He also noted that EIZ had a lot of members that are practising in RSA and demanded that efforts must be enhanced to protect them in RSA. Zambian Engineering Professionals in RSA are highly qualified individuals that are contributing to that economy and hence, stories of alleged xenophobic attacks on foreigners in RSA were not in the spirit of the African free trade agenda and did not reflect the ubuntu philosophy of reciprocity.
As regards Engineering Organizations, EIZ explained that though Zambia had few big companies such as mines, railways, factories and power stations; there were many small and medium-sized engineering firms across the value chain for spares’ supplies, manufacturing of materials and maintenance services. These organizations would require partners from abroad to expand and modernise. EIZ would encourage South African entrepreneurs to invest in either setting up new engineering firms or partnering with existing Zambian engineering firms to synergize and improve efficiencies. Zambian firms are well regulated (EIZ, NCC, Department of Factories, Mines Safety Department, ZABS, ZEMA) and generally apply good engineering practices and adhere to international standards. Further, Zambian engineering workers are trainable and easily adaptable to new technologies and systems because of the solid foundation they have from earlier formalized learning from universities and colleges that offer modern and comparable training benchmarked against requirements stipulated by the international Engineering Alliance (IEA), similar to RSA.
The EIZ President concluded by thanking the delegation, and mentioned that the Engineering Council of South Africa (ECSA) was one of the sponsors of the Africa Engineering Conference slated for Avani Victoria Falls Resort in Livingstone, Zambia, from 15-21 September 2019 and looked forward to welcoming the South African Engineering Professionals that will join colleagues from other African countries to discuss SDGs in relation to African problems and solutions.