In a media address held in Sandton, north of Johannesburg, Consulting Engineers South Africa’s (CESA) newly appointed President, David Leukes, emphasised the importance of translating policy into action ahead of the South Africa’s State of the Nation Address.

Consulting Engineers South Africa's (CESA) newly appointed President, David Leukes. Image supplied by RACA Journal

Consulting Engineers South Africa’s (CESA) newly appointed President, David Leukes. Image supplied by RACA Journal

“In anticipation of the proclamations that will be made by our country’s President in the upcoming State of the Nation address, we cannot afford to, for example, have a new Public Procurement Bill signed into law, which will in its current form, hinder rather than support the infrastructure delivery challenges we currently face,” he stated.

With regard to achieving economic growth through sustainable infrastructure, Leukes emphasised the stronger need for collaboration between government entities and the private sector. He called for the implementation of initiatives and leveraging the skills present in the private sector for faster project delivery, improved resource allocation and enhanced overall project outcomes.

He also stressed the urgency of addressing the infrastructure backlog in South Africa, which presents further opportunities for job creation, economic stimulation and improved levels of service related to such infrastructure provisioning.

“We are, of course, not ignorant to the many investment inhibitors which we face as a country, so we call on our government to get serious about earnestly addressing these, with a much greater sense of urgency. This is an election year, and likely a watershed year, and we need to seize the opportunity, to build back better, in all aspects that impact society.”

Leukes stressed the importance of a robust procurement regulatory framework and the moral imperative of transformation, including broad-based black economic empowerment and employment equity. He called for transparent, fair and accountable procurement processes to safeguard against corruption and ensure the overall quality of infrastructure outcomes.

He also called for diverse and collaborative leadership to secure a sustainable future for South Africa. Leukes invoked the wisdom of an African proverb: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” He emphasised the essence of CESA’s theme for the year: ‘A Call for Diverse and Collaborative Leadership – Stronger Together to Secure a Sustainable Future for Us All.’

Acknowledging the rich legacy of CESA in addressing critical issues in the built environment, he emphasised the importance of unity, collaboration and global engagement within the engineering community.

Leukes highlighted the challenges faced by the engineering community, including the brain and talent drain leaving South Africa. He identified limited career advancement opportunities, compensation disparities, and a perceived lack of recognition for expertise as crucial factors that need to be addressed.

“Initiatives need to be undertaken to create an environment that not only retains local talent but also attracts global professionals. Strengthening ties with international engineering organisations like the International Federation of Consulting Engineers (FIDIC) provides a platform for collaboration, knowledge exchange and networking, making South Africa an appealing destination for professionals seeking a dynamic and rewarding career in the built environment.”

Leukes also underscored the importance of embracing digital transformation to keep the local industry at the forefront of the global technological landscape. He highlighted the imperative to invest in education and training programmes for the workforce and to foster a culture of innovation within organisations to ensure the South African industry remains abreast of global technological developments.

CESA’s commitment to ‘leaving no one behind’ emphasised an inclusive approach to infrastructure development, prioritising economic development and promoting job creation – all in an effort to contribute to ensuring sustainable livelihoods. Leukes also called for the prioritisation of sustainable practices, encouraging green building technologies and energy-efficient designs which maximise the use of eco-friendly construction materials.

In conclusion, Leukes rallied industry partners, along with public and private sector client bodies, to forge a diverse and collaborative partnership and to work together towards achieving a sustainable future.