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70 years of Partnering for Engineering Excellence: CESA’s Platinum Jubilee

Consulting Engineers South Africa (CESA), representing close to 600 member firms employing approximately 17 000 people, is celebrating 70 years of engineering excellence in 2022. CESA’s Platinum Jubilee celebrates the organisation’s remarkable and enduring history of contributing to the representation and development of the all-important engineering sector within South Africa, and they have much to celebrate.

“Our 70th anniversary bears testament to the critical role we continue to play in the engineering sector since the organisation was first established in 1952. We have unquestionably become the apex organisation of the consulting engineering sector,” states Chris Campbell, CEO of CESA.

The past decade has been a particularly eventful one for South Africa and the industry. The COVID-19 pandemic had an important impact on the country’s economy and has contributed to setting back a number of infrastructure development initiatives, as well as the broader SA economy. “Within this constrained environment, we have played a critical role in supporting our members, the broader built environment and construction sector, while contributing to the development of practitioners both in the public and private sectors” says Campbell.

“One of our strategic goals is to promote transformation of the sector. In South Africa there is a recognition of the need to develop local capacity to address the backlogs in infrastructure resulting from the Apartheid era” continues Campbell. This has necessitated CESA’s focus on capacity development and through their member base, has developed the means for larger established companies to partner with newer SMME businesses and for the latter to participate in public sector projects. This has worked to address inequalities in access to business, as well as to support and capacitate these small businesses.

In full support of the Government’s transformation targets, more than 70% of CESA member companies are more than 51% Black owned and of these, 3,1% are owned by black women. Two thirds of the member firms have a staff of 20 or less and 50% less than 10. Many of these being emerging consulting engineering organisations are either majority owned or wholly owned by Black South Africans. The number of Black owned and managed firms joining CESA has grown from 38% in 2009 to 55% in 2022.

In another milestone, celebrating 20 years of service excellence, CESA’s School of Consulting Engineering (SCE), offers more than 100 courses country-wide and has provided training to thousands of practitioners. The SCE courses go a long way to ensuring skills development and the retention of skills within the consulting industry.

CESA’s Young Professionals Forum (YPF), established in 2004, serves the needs of professional engineers, technologists, and technicians in member firms, under the age of 35, providing a platform for young practitioners to network and grow. CESA’s YPF Imbizo also celebrates its 10th anniversary this year.

CESA became a member of International Federation of Consulting Engineers (FIDIC) in 1959 and of its regional grouping the Group of African Member Associations (GAMA) in 1981, now FIDIC Africa, with CESA fulfilling the role as Secretariat to this Regional Body, representing the African continent, since 2018. CESA has been recognised during two FIDIC Award ceremonies both in 2019 in Mexico City as well as online in 2021 for our achievements amongst FIDIC’s 106 country member associations.

For 50 years, the engineering excellence of CESA member firms has been celebrated at the annual CESA Aon Engineering Excellence Awards. This is a showcase of both member firms, their clients and their projects, that are world class in their standards of design and innovation which contribute to enhancing the quality of life of the public and the communities being served.

“We remain committed to the promotion of excellence in the consulting engineering industry on behalf of our members and stakeholders. We continue to strive not only to develop and support the consulting engineering sector, but also to have a meaningful impact on the lives of all South Africans. We look forward to another 70 years of contributing to the sector and to our country as we continue in our quest to Protect Lives and Livelihoods”, concludes Campbell