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We must equip young professionals to lead the next infrastructural revolution in Kenya

By Rose Kananu | June 4th 2019
Rose Kananu, MD Howard Aidevo.

Africa is growing, and the bludgeoning infrastructure is evidence that the rise is inevitable. An African Development Bank report projects a growth of 30 per cent for African economies by 2040.

However, there’s a catch. This growth will only be possible if African countries can close the wide infrastructural gaps. Kenya has a significant gap between the need for infrastructure and critical services such as hospitals and our government’s ability to pay for such investments.

Addressing the 6th Annual Devolution Conference in March, Safaricom’s Chief Special Projects Officer Joseph Ogutu urged the private sector to embrace Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) as a homegrown solution.

However, developing, financing and implementing large infrastructure projects under the PPP framework is complex and often daunting.

Capacity building

Many teams must enter and exit at different phases making PPP’s a fragmented puzzle. As universities continue to churn out graduates in the built environment, are they being mentored and equipped to champion and channel the growth of this sector through this and other frameworks?

Are we setting them up to understand what differentiates successful PPPs from failures? Mentorship and capacity building of young professionals is vital for the growth of infrastructure in Kenya.

Each time I interact with clients, they want the project implemented correctly, on time and within budget. However, these wishes are not fulfilled as expected. Young professionals must be trained and mentored to appreciate the difficulties of multi-phased projects and understand the challenges of implementing projects in developing economies.

They should be able to help a client break down an unwieldy project into achievable tasks, guaranteeing frictionless transition between phases.

For Kenya to realise its infrastructure dreams, young professionals who will be decision makers in the next 20 years must be empowered. They must have the adequate technical, fund-raising and procurement knowledge so that mega projects are not given a cursory glance or handed over to foreign contractors.

In equipping the young professionals, we must make use of digital learning tools in our training.

Use of technology has huge potential because it will enhance the appeal to a generation that has been raised on virtual reality, gaming, social media and software that can do previously unimaginable things.

Our training has to be beyond technical skills.

We need to create smart future citizens and clients who understand the impact of the built environment. The training ought to incorporate learning from the social sciences and the financial world.

-The writer is a civil engineer, trainer at Howard Aidevo Consulting  

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