Engineering in Africa

The shortage of engineers is a major concern in Africa and across the world where there has been declining interest and enrolment of young people, especially women. Engineering is vital to addressing basic human needs, improving the quality of life and creating opportunities for sustainable prosperity on a local, regional, national and global level. More young people need to choose engineering as a career and making that choice depends on access to the necessary science, mathematics, technology, and engineering (STEM) curriculum as well as having access to effective guidance, communications and role models.

  An estimated 2.5 million new engineers and technicians are required in sub-Saharan Africa to achieve the Millennium Development Goals of improved access to clean water and sanitation. 

Irina Bokova,
UNESCO Director-General

Africa Engineering Week aims to educate youth and the general public about engineering through outreach activities such as educational workshops, public awareness events, mentoring activities and university events that show how engineers are key players in the solutions to important global challenges, such as climate change mitigation and adaptation.

Engineering for Sustainable Development

© UNESCO/P. Chiang-Joo. Anne Wangari Kirima-Muchoki, IGU-UNESCO Workshop on Women in Engineering, 2013

The lack of engineers is hampering social and economic development worldwide. Engineering is critically important for the creation of infrastructure to alleviate poverty, accelerate industrial development and enable better healthcare, access to education and the development of an attractive environment for foreign investment. Thus, there is a great benefit for greater investment in African engineering.

UNESCO believes that more people would be attracted to engineering as a career if the role of engineering was more visible and better understood and is working to raise awareness of the importance of engineering for sustainable development through the activities of Africa Engineering Week.

  If we look across the African continent, we can see evidence of growth and development – Africa is rising, indeed. But to sustain this rise requires investment in the skills and talents of Africa’s young people, especially in girls and young women. (...)

In Namibia, Zimbabwe and Tanzania, there is one qualified engineer for a population of 6,000 people -- compared to one engineer per 200 people in China. Through its Engineering Initiative, UNESCO is working with Africa countries to put science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education at the heart of national development strategies.      

Irina Bokova, UNESCO Director-General, during the
UNESCO/IGU Workshop on Women in Engineering in Africa and the Arab States, December 2013

Educational Resources

For teachers

What can you do?

  • Attend Open University Days with your family
  • Organize an event to celebrate Africa Engineering Week

RELATED INFORMATION

National Science and Engineering Weeks