Project Overview


During the 182nd Session of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Executive Board in 2009, South Africa as an Executive Board member at the time, proposed the establishment of an Engineering Programme within UNESCO. The goals of the programme were aimed at addressing the chronic shortage of engineers in the developing world; promoting engineering education and capacity building, building applications for poverty eradication and sustainable development and achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDG’s). The proposal was adopted by the Board and a decision was made to conduct a feasibility study for the Engineering Programme. The decision to establish a UNESCO Engineering Programme was adopted as item 182 EX/66, and was recommended and adopted as item 35 C/62 at the 35th Session of the UNESCO General Conference in September and October 2009.

SADC Member States were invited to a SADC Engineering Numbers & Needs workshop that was held from 9-10 July 2012 in Cape Town, South Africa. Countries in attendance included: Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Each member country was represented by two officials (one government representative and one representative from the engineering fraternity). The workshop was also attended by representatives from the International Scientific Council — Regional Office for Africa (ICSU – ROA), the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf), UNESCO, and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development Science, Technology and Innovation Hub (NEPAD STI Hub). The outcomes and recommendations of the workshop were that Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe were nominated to form a Working Group (WG) that would develop a Terms of Reference (TOR) outlining how a study in the region could be undertaken. In addition, ICSU-ROA, ASSAf, UNESCO and the NEPAD STI Hub were identified to work with the Working Group to assist in this work. The WG met from the 22-23 May 2013 to develop the draft TOR. On 2 September 2015, the WG met to review and approve the draft TOR for the study and to discuss the institutional arrangements for implementing the study.


The overall objective of the study was to get a better understanding of the actual numbers of Engineers, Technologists and Technicians in the SADC countries and the needs of SADC Member States to allow for better planning for the attainment of sustainable development in the region. In particular the study was expected to provide evidence-based answers to questions such as:

  • Numbers and categories of qualified engineers, technologists and technicians produced at institutions of higher learning (annual output) over a period of ten years (2005-2015)
  • Engineering demographics (information relating to gender and age distribution)
  • Policies, rules and regulations pertaining to engineering in SADC Member States
  • Engineers, technologists and technicians trained outside the country through targeted national programmes
  • National and regional infrastructure/development needs for the period 2015-2030
  • Gaps in engineering capacity, both the current situation and projected needs
  • Existence of engineering councils or associations in various Member States
  • Number of registered engineering practitioners per country.


For the purpose of the study the following categories of engineering practitioners were considered: engineering graduates, professional engineers, incorporated engineers/technologists and engineering technicians. Engineering disciplines considered included: Agricultural, Chemical, Civil, Electrical and Electronics, Industrial, Mechanical, Mining and Metallurgy and others recognised by individual SADC Member States.


The study was expected to cover the following relevant stakeholders among others:

  • Government ministries
  • State owned enterprises/parastatals/statutory bodies
  • Employers in the private sector
  • Academia
  • Engineering related research institutions
  • Civil society
  • Regional, continental and global intergovernmental organisations
  • Engineering councils and institutions.


SAICE Professional Development and Projects (SAICE-PDP) was appointed in February 2017 to carry out the study.


The Government of the Republic of South African, through the Department of Science and Technology provided the bulk of the funding towards the study. Member States were required to also provide resources for the study to cover any additional expenses incurred in their countries. Detailed research was carried out in all 15 countries.


The study was conducted using a mix of methods including:

  • Desktop studies
  • Document analysis/review (regional and national)
  • Interviews, discussions and/or workshops with stakeholders
  • Surveys
  • Observations
  • Peer reviews
  • Validation workshop(s).