Monday, July 1, 2024

The Department of Civil and Construction Engineering- Faculty of Engineering, in collaboration with the Centre for Advanced Engineering Studies (CAES), hosted a two-day conference from June 27th to 28th, 2024. The hybrid event, held at the UoN Towers, drew over 400 participants, including researchers, industry leaders, student engineers and government officials. Themed "Advancing Infrastructure for Kenya's Economic Transformation," this gathering aimed to address the pressing needs and future directions for Kenya's infrastructure development.

Eng. Simpson Osano, conference convener and Chairman of the Department of Civil and Construction Engineering articulated the event's alignment with Kenya’s broader economic vision. "This conference addresses the urgent need for innovative solutions in affordable housing, road infrastructure safety, and the construction of dams," he remarked, highlighting the pivotal role engineering plays in national development.

The conference was inaugurated by the Principal Secretary, State Department for Roads, Eng. Joseph Mbugua. In his opening remarks, Eng. Mbugua underscored the critical importance of infrastructure development in driving economic growth. He emphasized the necessity for climate resilience in upcoming projects and called for a synergistic approach among academia, industry, and government. "As we look to the future, let's focus on advancing infrastructure development, research, and innovation that foster prosperity, sustainability, and inclusivity in Kenya," he urged, setting an ambitious tone for the proceedings.

Prof. Stephen Kiama, the Vice Chancellor of the University of Nairobi, reaffirmed the institution’s dedication to cultivating future engineering leaders. "Our Department of Civil and Construction Engineering, in partnership with government ministries and stakeholders, stands at the forefront of driving innovation, pushing boundaries, and shaping the future of infrastructure development in Kenya and beyond," he declared. Prof. Kiama stressed the indispensable role of engineering in societal progress, noting, "The intersection of engineering, innovation, and sustainable development is more important than ever. As engineers, we are at the heart of the infrastructural backbone that supports economic growth and societal well-being."

Prof. Ayub Gitau, Dean of the Faculty of Engineering, underscored the significance of the conference in promoting knowledge exchange and collaboration. "Our role is not just to build, but to innovate, ensuring that our solutions are sustainable, resilient, and forward-thinking," he remarked. He also announced the recent upgrades to the faculty's laboratories, funded by the World Bank and the State Department for Roads, which will enhance research and education capabilities.

The conference featured a series of expert panel sessions and keynote speeches on a diverse range of topics. Jacktone Mwembe of the Institution of Engineers of Kenya discussed "Opportunities for Engineers under the Government’s Affordable Housing Program," while National Construction Authority CEO, Eng. Maurice Akech delivered insights on "Innovative Approaches to Affordable Housing." Other critical discussions included enhancing road safety and resilience, integrating renewable energy into national grids, and adopting sustainable practices in modern infrastructure development.

Eng. Margaret Ogai, Registrar/CEO of the Engineers Board of Kenya, highlighted the Board’s comprehensive mandate encompassing education, training, and practice within the engineering value chain. She emphasized the necessity for collaboration between academia and industry to ensure university programs meet accreditation standards, thereby facilitating the professional registration of graduates.

Prominent speakers such as Dr. (Eng.) John Mativo, Eng. Jane Mutilili, Eng. Peter Njenga, Eng. Philip Gichuki, and Dr. Eng. Damaris Oyaro contributed to the rich discourse, presenting papers and sharing insights. Additionally, various partners showcased their innovations in the exhibition booths, providing a practical glimpse into the future of engineering.

Participants left the conference with a renewed commitment to driving positive change in Kenya’s infrastructure landscape. "Through the power of research and technology, we stand a better chance to improve lives," Eng. Joseph Mbugua aptly summarized.

The Civil and Construction Engineering Conference 2024 not only highlighted existing challenges but also served as a platform for showcasing innovative solutions and fostering essential collaborations. Key takeaways included the need for creative solutions in affordable housing, road safety, and dam construction; the importance of climate-resilient infrastructure; stronger academia-industry linkages; and the vital role of research in developing sustainable infrastructure solutions.

Looking ahead, the CCE 2024 conference has set a robust foundation for future endeavors, paving the way for a brighter and more sustainable future for Kenya's infrastructure development. The University of Nairobi, in hosting this conference, has once again affirmed its position as a beacon of progress and a catalyst for national development.