Protecting Lives and Livelihoods

The absence of technical expertise in the procurement of infrastructure is starting to have an increasingly adverse effect on the quality and sustainability of our country’s infrastructure. CESA represents over 580 South African Consulting Engineering Firms employing more than 19000 people and believes that we need to be building quality and sustainable infrastructure that stands the test of time keeping the health and safety of our population as the critical success factor and not placing them at risk.

During the current pandemic, the constant message we have received from the President of South Africa’s office is that of ‘Protecting Lives and Livelihoods’. We want to extend this adage to issues of health and safety in relation to adequately designed and constructed infrastructure in our new-build processes and in the timely maintenance of existing infrastructure. Likewise, ongoing, and timely build and maintenance programmes also serve to preserve jobs and the livelihoods of the many families that depend on sustainable infrastructure for ensuring a growing and healthy economy.

Engineers have saved far more lives than all of the doctors in the world” through their inventions, said John Browne, the chairman of L1 Energy and chief executive officer of BP Plc from 1995 to 2007.

CESA – Your Partner in Enabling Consulting Engineering Excellence

The roads and bridges that you take to get to school or the office; the buildings in which you work and the shopping malls that you frequent; the airports and ports that you travel from; the water you drink, the electricity you consume and the food that you eat – none of these would be possible without the critical expertise of the consulting engineer.

Consulting engineers have made a significant impact on society providing innovative advances in transport, water supply, energy, buildings, and vital infrastructure all leading to improved health and economic development resulting in a much better quality of life for all.

A consulting engineer is an expert in the planning, design, and construction of both public and private infrastructure. Consulting engineers are registered professionals who practice in many disciplines, including civil, structural, environmental, mechanical, electrical, geotechnical, chemical, industrial, and agricultural engineering.

The consulting engineering profession is aimed to benefit the whole of society, through the application of safer, cleaner, and more efficient infrastructure. Consulting engineers are involved in designing virtually every construction and renovation project, from bridges and schools to water purification plants and energy-efficient generation and distribution systems. They design ventilation and electrical systems for new hospitals, figure out how to build tunnels through mountains without disturbing the environment, and upgrade wastewater treatment systems for expanding cities. And they solve environmental and ecological problems.

As a catalyst in the problem-solving process, consulting engineers lead teams of multi-disciplinary professionals on complex technical projects. They also serve as expert advisors to local, provincial, and national government, and to private businesses and industries. Consulting engineers serve these public and private clients from prefeasibility studies through to final design and construction. Their expertise ensure that innovative and value-for-money solutions are provided that are built to stand the test of time.

Consulting engineers may design an entire project, or they might be responsible for only one component of the design, depending on the need. Their support can be provided throughout the whole process, from inception to completion, to facilitate the best solutions.


When architects and builders face technical challenges, or when buildings require improved performance, consulting engineers can assist with the entire framework, such as design analysis, construction details and future structural support. When you hire a consulting engineer, important feedback can be provided, such as material limitations and design weaknesses, offering the kind of insights that will help to optimise the entire project. Consulting engineers bring innovative, quality design that can have a positive impact on construction, operation, and maintenance expenses. Whether in preparation of a new design or the rehabilitation of an existing infrastructure, consulting engineers can make the end-product much simpler and more cost effective to achieve.

To become a Consulting Engineer, Engineering Practitioners must be professionally registered with the Engineering Council of South Africa (ECSA). These engineers need to have at least three years of post-qualification training and experience before their applications will be considered.

Selecting a consulting engineer is one of the most important decisions an owner or client can make. The success of any project often depends upon obtaining the most able, experienced, and reputable consulting engineer available.

Inadequate fees lead to the reduction of the scope and quality of the service by spending less time on the project or assigning lower paid and usually less qualified personnel to the project.

The method of selection that best meets all factors is quality-based selection. Choose the consulting engineer based on professional competence, managerial ability, available resources, professional independence, professional integrity, and quality assurance.

Quality Based Selection

Selecting a consulting engineer based on quality ultimately provides the best value for the client. Top-quality consulting engineers bring best practices to the project. This translates into the best possible and most cost-effective solutions for the client and the end user.

Fees will be fairer to both the client and the consulting engineer when they are negotiated after the exact parameters of the project are fully established. This will ensure a more sustainable project and one that will be more efficient, cheaper to build and more economical to operate over its life cycle.

Selection Criteria

The key criteria by which to judge a consulting engineer’s suitability to carry out a particular project are:

  • Professional competence
  • Managerial ability
  • Availability of resources
  • Impartiality
  • Fairness of fee structure
  • Professional integrity
  • Quality assurance system

The client should seek information on all these matters by:

  • Obtaining comprehensive pre-qualification information from the consulting engineer in a form appropriate for the assignment.
  • Interviewing senior personnel identified for the assignment.
  • Visiting consulting engineer and examining systems and methods of work, as well as hardware and software capabilities.
  • Where applicable, speaking to previous clients.

To find a CESA Member Firm visit  

The role of an engineer is to tackle some of the world’s greatest problems; helping to save lives and livelihoods and create new technological advancements that can improve the way we live.


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