Engineering opportunities and capacity building in the Emerging natural resources discoveries

The Institutional of Engineers of Kenya (IEK) held its 22nd international conference at the Intercontinental hotel in Nairobi. The Conference was set into session on 13th may by a Keynote speech from Eng. Erastus Mwongera and was concluded on 15th May with the official engineers dinner dance. The annual conference seeks to bring together various engineering disciplines such as highways, water resources, manufacturing, energy, ICT, food production and others.

The IEK conference is therefore a forum for various engineering professionals to share their experiences. The theme for this year’s conference was ‘Engineering opportunities and capacity building in the Emerging natural resources discoveries’.  The Chair for IEK Conference and functions committee Eng. Collins Juma Observed that the theme fits quite appropriately with the ongoing developments not only in our country but in the region where discoveries of oil, natural gas, coal, uranium, titanium and other minerals have been made.

Delivering the Keynote speech on behalf of the Principal Secretary (PS) of Infrastructure Eng. Musonik John, Eng. Mwongera the Chairman of Kenya National Highways Authority (KENHA) said ‘The theme also resonates with the other activities that engineers have to undertake in like manufacturing that bring economic growth and prosperity’.
Eng. Mwongera the chief speaker also urged the delegates of the 3-day forum to come up with resolutions that will result into meaningful management of the newly discovered mineral resources in the country.

The IEK chairperson Eng. Reuben Kosgei speaking at the opening of the conference encouraged the participation of young engineers in the conference in order to provide new ideas and continuity to the practise of engineering Kenya.
On the first day, the Director Generals of the different roads authorities gave updates on the different project’s they are undertaking in the different parts of the country.  The Acting Director General of Kenya National Highways Authority (KENHA), Eng. Linus Tonui gave a detailed presentation on the Annuity Financed Roads projects, which is set to be undertaken by the government and observed that the project is at advanced stages.
Different attendees made several presentations. The presentations comprised of topics such as; onshore oil and gas exploration in Kenya; engineering opportunity in Renewable energy and the role of nuclear energy in Kenya. The abstracts of these and other papers are shared in this journal and subsequent issues.

Engineers contribute immensely to the built environment and infrastructural development. As such recognizing them is of great essence. The Principal Secretary, Ministry of Energy, and Petroleum, Eng. James Njoroge graced the second day of IEK conference. He gave an update of the projects that have been carried out in his docket and other upcoming projects.
Giving a presentation at the conference, Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) Electrotechnical Standards and Development official, Mr. Zacheus Mwatha observed that engineers have a problem in observing professionalism. He urged all engineers to take standardization seriously and do things the right way. He also made it clear that KEBS laboratories intend to expand the area of radiochemistry and generate reference materials for use by other laboratories.

PLO Lumumba the Director of the Kenya School of Laws also reminded engineers of the importance of nation building and the perils of corruption.  He said, “The tragedy of unethical conduct of Africans at all levels is that we even fear the truth. If you speak, the truth you make people uncomfortable yet the truth is what will set us free.”

The different speakers also encouraged young engineers to increase their participation in engineering the country and take up more studies “Engineers play a crucial role when it comes to oil and gas exploration in Kenya and I wish to challenge young engineers to take up professional courses as in oil and gas exploration”, said Edward Ondicha.

Annual General Meeting

The second day of the conference concluded with the Annual General Meeting of the Institution of Engineers of Kenya in the evening. This saw the chairperson and other officials present their annual reports and the IEK committee members select new members to sit in the IEK Council.

Members present went through previous minutes of the meeting held in May 2014 in Diani, Mombasa during the 21st IEK conference. From the meeting, members proposed for the formation of a benevolent fund for IEK members.
In the elections, Engineers; Reuben Kosgei, Richard Chepkwony, Michael Okonji and Rosemary Kungu retained their seats as Chairperson, Treasurer, 1st Vice Chairperson and 2nd Chairperson respectively. Changes resulting from the AGM include the position of the Honorary Secretary. The incoming Honorary Secretary of the council is Eng. Nathaniel Matalanga taking over from Eng. Mwamzali Shiribwa nicknamed the scribe; Eng. R. Ocharo Onchiri will be head of Western Branch, Eng. J. Odumbe Coast branch and Eng. J. Kioni- Central branch.

The three incoming IEK council members are Eng. John Tonai, Eng Kahoro Wachira and Eng. Samuel Njagi and the outgoing IEK council members are Eng. Grace Onyango, Eng.  Henry Ndugah, Eng. Elijah Mwangi and Eng. Okubo.The Chairperson in his report announced that IEK has acquired a building for IEK offices at Top Plaza, Kindaruma Road at KES20m.  In addition, He announced that they are deliberating on IEK partnership with ICT Authority to offer internship opportunities to engineers. Moreover, Engineers Board of Kenya (EBK) is set to roll out internship programs in the next fiscal year.

He also noted that IEK sent a delegation to attend the Federation of African Engineering Organization meeting in Abuja. There was also an Annual General Meeting of Federation of African Engineering Organizations where Eng. Julius Riungu (Immediate past IEK chairperson), became President Elect of the Federation African Engineering Organization.
The Chairperson noted that IEK sits in various public boards such as Kenya Water Institute, Kenya Industrial and Property Board, Engineers Board of Kenya, Kenya Urban Roads Authority, KENHA, Kenya Rural Roads Authority among others.

Industrial trip and final dinner

The third and final day of the IEK conference saw a visit to one of the biggest employers of engineers in the country, Kenya Electricity Generating Company (KenGen). At KenGen, the delegates were taken through a presentation on what KenGen does and its functional plants. Later on, engineers were conducted to an official visit to the recent commissioned Olkaria IV geothermal plant.  The company is set to generate about 800MW of power as Kenya eyes the 5,000MW of power generation capacity, a target set by the current government.

Eng. Nicholas Gumbo who gave the closing remarks said, “There is no problem in creating something good but doing it the wrong way becomes the problem. Engineers need to be involved in policy implementation, software development, and maintenance in various fields of engineering, and they can also become transactional advisors in engineering projects.”
“Quality education and training is a powerful indicator of how the country will run in terms of development, without an educated engineer, exploitation of natural resources would be a mirage,” added Gumbo. He also confirmed that there is need to have strong internship programs to help engineers claim their positions in the society.

At the end of the conference, engineers came up with discussions and resolutions on topics touching on transport, water and sanitation, energy, innovation, environment and manufacturing.  According to the secretariat, the discussions and resolutions will be uploaded on the IEK website for perusal by interested individuals.

The final act in the conference was the Gala night and gift presentations. This capped the conference amidst pomp and colour with the dinner dance. Engineers treated themselves to different delicacies and music by Kayamba Africa.This was yet another successful IEK international conference; selected papers from the conference will be published in subsequent issues of Kenya Engineer Journal and Kenya engineer website (kenyaengineer.co.ke) to act as a repository and a source of reference for engineers.

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