Building engineering capacity in sub-Saharan Africa with Africa Catalyst

From left to right:
Aloys Dukunde, Intern
Mia Jeannot, EAP Programme Officer
Adolphe Muneza, Intern

As part of the Royal Academy of Engineering (RAEng) led Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) Africa Catalyst programme, EAP has partnered with several sub-Saharan Africa initiatives to build the capacity of professional engineering institututions in the region. Africa Catalyst provides grant funding to select initiatives across the region to pilot their capacity building models. Earlier this month, EAP visited one of the grantees – Institution of Engineers Rwanda (IER) – to support them on the ground and refine their approach through evaluation activities.

IER’s initiative, “Bridging the Gap – Technological Learning”, seeks to build the capacity of recent engineering graduates specifically from the civil, mechanical and electric disciplines. There are limited opportunities for professional development presented to these students whilst undertaking their studies and few paid internships available for graduates; however, most relevant jobs require a minimum of two years’ experience. By placing graduates on construction sites, supported through a small stipend allowance, the project is designed to increase the practical skills of graduates and thus boost their employability.

The visit by EAP was undertaken at the midway point of the internship. EAP had an opportunity to meet with 10 of the 30 interns at their project sites and discuss their experiences and learnings from the placement to date. All interns remarked that the opportunity to actively participate on site was enabling them to translate their theoretical knowledge into practical application.

Beyond building practical capacity, many of the interns also referenced the development of soft skills. Ranging from project management to establishing and managing appropriate relationships with staff, the opportunity to work on site enables them to develop in a variety of ways and showcase their skills to employers.

EAP also met with some of the programme mentors and contractors. They affirmed that the placement raises the capacity of the interns and, reflecting on the job market in Rwanda, noted the vital nature of this opportunity for graduates. Both parties confirmed that the interns were bringing valued knowledge to the site and the level of investment was worthwhile. They also committed to taking interns on in the future. 

Following the visit, EAP is compiling a full project evaluation which will be submitted to RAEng, along with a project closure report prepared by IER. Both will form the basis for future funding applications, as IER remains committed to carrying on these projects. EAP will continue to support IER and other grantees in building the capacity of the next generation of engineers in sub-Saharan Africa. Find out more about the Africa Catalyst programme via our website.

Date Published: 25 May 2017
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