African engineers should tap into opportunities availed by African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) , Rwandan Engineer Papias Kazawadi has said. Kazawadi, who is FAEO President Elect, was speaking at a Malawi conference on accelerating the road map to agenda 2063 through engineering in which he was invited to speak on a session themed “Africa’s opportunities and challenges and why African engineers must engage in AfCFTA.” The Federation of African Engineering Organisations (FAEO) is an international non-governmental organisation which represents the interests of all engineering practitioners in Africa. “There is a need to develop public policy awareness and understanding of engineering, affirming the role of engineering as the driver of innovation, social and economic development,” he said. The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) will be the world’s largest free trade area since the formation of the World Trade Organization. It aims to bring together all 55 member states of the African Union (AU) covering a market of more than 1.2billion people, including a growing middle class and a combined gross domestic product (GDP) of $2.6trillion. Estimates from the Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) suggest that the AfCFTA has the potential to boost intra-African trade by 52.3 per cent, and to double this trade if non-tariff barriers are also reduced. It aims at creating a single market for goods and services, facilitated by the movement of people, contributing to the movement of capital and people and facilitating investment, expanding intra-African trade, boosting industrial development and enhancing competitiveness. Kazawadi said that African engineers can contribute to African Continental Free Trade Area by developing information on engineering, highlighting the need for better statistics and indicators on engineering such as how many and what types of engineers a country has and needs. “No independent feedback loop at the AU and its organs to achieve AfCFTA with the Engineering Community,” he said. “Engineers are caught between a Hard Rock and Hard Place –Expected to deliver but not on the table within Governments and AU structures for proper implementation of the Agenda 2063,” he added. He said that there is no central database of all Engineering Professionals from country level to continental level arguing that, “no proper planning without reliable data.” Among challenges, she said, include lack of harmonized standards in order to remove barriers between states to enable free movement of goods and services. “How can countries do business with one another when their standards are different and un-harmonized?” he said. He recommends that there must be governments’ willingness and commitments to grow engineering consultancy firms, contractors and allied professions to boost private sector involvement to promote home-grown solutions for sustainability. “We at FAEO need to compile a professional database list/a roster (similar to a Master roll) of all professionals in different domains and levels of expertise that shall be provided to AfCFTA to draw from when required, in order to lessen foreign experts trying to solve African problems,” Kazawadi said. He said it’s high time for African engineers’ organizations federation to use all its powers of influence to propose to the AU and in particular AfCFTA to avail it a seat in its “Secretariats”. Talking about Rwanda’s context, he said that engineering is essential to Rwanda’s 2050 vision. “We need to raise our voice now more than ever before, without engagement and involvement of Institution of Engineers Rwanda (IER) in national development matters the vision 2050 will be just a nightmare,” he said. He said this is because in implementing the vision, e engineers are needed. “The increase in acceleration is directly proportional to the numbers of competent professionals,” he noted. The current shortage in quantity and deficiency in quality, in engineering in Africa overall, can be traced more specifically to gaps in policies and capacities, he added.