Engineering education, development and growth in Africa

Sheikheldin, Gussai and Nyichomba, Bavo. 2019. ‘Engineering education, development and growth in Africa.’ Scientific African, Vol. 6.

Africa is trying to overcome the challenge of having significant shortage of engineering skills. Yet, paradoxically, many engineering graduates find it difficult to land employment in engineering fields. Although it may sound confusing at first, that demand for engineers and unemployment of engineers happen simultaneously, a valid explanation is not only about the number of engineers in the job market, but the number of engineers with matching skills for the jobs awaiting them. Engineering plays a key role in development: technological capabilities, industrial activities, and economic growth. What we refer to by engineering is the process of digesting and combining knowledge, resources and arts to create and operationalize technology. The current challenges in engineering in Africa can be traced more specifically to gaps in policies and capacities, which are not always specific to engineering yet inclusive of it. Recently, some research activities in Africa have endeavored to explore possibilities to bridge the gaps in policies and capacities in the ‘engineering systems’. A general understanding is growing that policy is the catalyst of possibilities.