03 February 2012

Shortage of Engineers

When traveling through Africa, wherever I go, I am also always asked to have a look at operational or stalled computers. Often I venture to check settings to get them on networks, and to check the software to keep them working. Always I find slow or not working network connections, infected computers, and outdated software. Often I find computers without virus-scanner, 'old' programs, and frustrated users. From the colleagues at LinkNet I hear that too. Wherever they go, they encounter frustrated users, and too many requests and too much work to handle.

Yesterday again, I sat at an hospital, doctoring on two laptops connected to a dedicated satellite connection. A simple change in settings solved connection issues, and I left with a number of downloads ongoing for virus scanner and software updates. Any IT engineer could have done this. But they are just not around..

On a daily basis, we are confronted with needs for engineering in water, energy, agriculture, and many more. Retention of engineers is a daunting challenge in rural Africa. Actually, there are not many engineers to start of with in the first place..

Many African countries pursue economic growth, aiming for sustainable service provisioning and access to cost-effective goods and services, as close to the communities as possible. Progress towards achievements of global and national development goals outcomes are fluctuating, certainly not helped by severe shortages of engineers for appropriate technologies. The engineering sector in many African nations is in crisis and there are shortages of engineers at every level.

Clearly one of the major obstacles to sustain the economy and to reach the goals set by the Millennium Development Goals, and working infrastructure at the local level, is the shortage of human resource in engineering.