The council of engineers in Rwanda has urged unprofessional engineers estimated to be over 5,000 to process the acquisition of professional working licenses so as to ensure liability for unsuccessful projects in the construction sector.
Eng. Bonny Rutembesa, the Executive Secretary of the Engineers Institute of Rwanda told Sunday Times that so far, there are only about 900 licensed professional engineers meaning that others are still working without fulfilling ethics and standards.
"Our estimates show that over 5,000 engineers in the sector are unlicensed but we are going to carry out a comprehensive survey to know the exact number of unlicensed engineers in the country. We have considered the census in the action plan of next fiscal year," he said.
He said the exercise will look at all disciplines or categories in the construction sector.
"Many are working but not registered in the council. The law governing us does not allow any engineer to operate without being registered as a professional in the council. We face many cases of malpractices, lack of standards for the projects they implement, lack of safety at work sites among others," he said.
Rutembesa said that being licensed ensures that any engineer is held accountable when a construction project causes problems that affect human lives and properties.
"They are not liable for any malpractices if they are not registered and licensed as professionals and that is why we are putting efforts in making sure everyone is licensed," he said.
The efforts are part of five year strategic plan that runs from 2018 to 2022 with a budget of Rwf4.6 billion to finance activities envisaged in streamlining the profession.
The activities include raising awareness on the engineering profession in Rwanda to ensure that its importance and value in the country's socio-economic development process is well understood.
They also include establishing clear working modalities with regulatory and other agencies and, ensure that practitioners in the engineering profession in Rwanda comply with established engineering service delivery standards as well as establishing a platform to facilitate promotion of Engineers' professional interest among others.
In order to facilitate engineers to improve practical skills and getting jobs, the council has launched a project dubbed "Africa Catalyst Project" financed by the Royal Academy of Engineering of UK.
According to Cecile Uwimana, the project manager , since 2017, over 160 engineers have obtained professional internship for six months to gain more practical skills which helps them get experience needed to become licensed professional practical engineers.
At least Rwf75 million has been invested in the program.
They are in various disciplines such as civil engineering, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, electronics and telecommunication engineering, water and environmental engineering among others.
Sixty people who have graduated as engineers are set to start professional internship for six months.
"After six months of internship, most of them get jobs. For instance out of the first 30 graduates, 20 per cent got jobs after that period of internship and we are going to carry out assessment for the second batch to know the number of those who got jobs," she said.
Looking at the number of new jobs created between 2017 and 2018 according to National Institute of Statistics, construction and manufacturing are the areas where most jobs have been created in the last two years.
Construction has the highest number with 52, 171 workers, followed by manufacturing with 42,409 workers, accommodation and food service activities with 25,871 people.
Overall, 206,190 new jobs were created between 2017 and 2018, including 166,058 non-farm jobs while the rest were farm jobs.