By Viren Sookhun, Managing Director of Oxyon People Solutions
The second annual Devac Infrasfuture conference was held in Johannesburg on the 18th and 19th of May 2022 at the Hilton Hotel, Sandton.
The conference is an exclusive annual meeting where decision-makers from the private sector, public sector, multinational executives, international investors, African governments, and various other institutions meet to address the challenges faced by the African continent’s infrastructure sector.
This high-level business conference and expo facilitates all participants to share their experiences and discuss innovative solutions and potential business partnerships that will exponentially improve the future of the infrastructure across Africa.
Infrastructure generally refers to the basic physical and organisational structures and facilities needed for the operation of a society or enterprise. Things that most Africans are still living without. This includes access to clean water, sanitation, electricity, and proper housing. These are a few of the gaps that Devac Infrasfuture intends to address by advocating for Public and Private Sector Partnerships (PPP) with urgency to expedite sustainable, regionally integrated infrastructure investments in Africa.
Devac Infrasfuture 2022 highlighted the need for the African continent to speedily build on its capacity to deliver high-quality infrastructure projects by integrating smart technologies. One of the guest speakers, MEC Jacob Mambolo (Gauteng Department of Roads and Transport), stated that time and cost are significant challenges that throttle the successful implementation of infrastructure projects. There was a general consensus that Africa is fast running out of time and that the continent will downgrade from developing to under-developed status within the next decade if it does not adapt and change now.
However, this is only one component of the plethora of challenges that Africa is facing. Compounding the severity of the need to deliver high-quality infrastructure projects is a lack of a solid youth skills development pipeline. Papama Mnqandi, National Chairperson of BMF Young Professionals South Africa, firmly presented a case in point being the phenomenon of “waithood”.
“Waithood” is described as the demoralising and demotivating phase where young graduates wait endlessly for an opportunity to work in their respective fields of study. The public and private sectors do not do enough to create a pipeline of skills for their organisations, especially in the development of youth employment. Without the continual transfer of skills from seniors to youth in an organisation, skills will eventually be lost, along with an organisation’s capabilities and competitiveness in the markets that they serve.
Gender diversity in infrastructure projects is another major challenge that the continent is facing. Speaker Thembisile Khoza, Programme Manager and Gender & Stakeholder relations at the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA), asked a hard-hitting question to the attendees; whether they believe that their daughters have an equal opportunity for their future. The answer was predominantly no. Khoza continued to ask how African organisations will navigate the gender diversity challenge to ensure that every person has an equal opportunity in the future. She encouraged attendees to affect the change immediately by starting to think differently and inclusively to address this challenge.
Sean Lumbue, Executive Director of Devac Invest Africa, emphasised that the primary objective of Devac Infrasfuture 2022 was to drive partnerships between African countries while providing solutions across the infrastructure sector. He specifically focused on the Transportation, Construction, Water, ICT, Energy, Finance and Banking industries.
Since its inception in 2021, Devac Infrasfuture has aimed to create a unique platform that will catalyse the level of infrastructure investments in Africa. Furthermore, to discuss innovative solutions and potential business partnerships and investment opportunities that will contribute to the development and the future of all African key infrastructure sectors.
The Devac Infrasfuture Business Matchmaking program offered all attendees the opportunity to meet and engage face-to-face with the event’s delegates, high-level speakers, sponsors, and exhibitors. The program also aims to initiate business partnerships that will lead to a return on investment for attendees through making the right contacts and fulfilling their target market objectives.
Oxyon People Solutions, a leader in technical staffing, recruitment, and training solutions for Southern Africa, was proud to be a part of Devac Infrasfuture 2022 for the second consecutive year. A partnership with Devac Invest Africa is on the way as Oxyon intends to assist in solving some of the challenges in the infrastructure sector by collaborating with the private and public sectors.
Sean Lumbue extended his gratitude to the MEC Jacob Mamabolo, Advisory Board Chairman, Mr Tshepo Kgobe, the office of the Presidency of South Africa – Infrastructure SA, the Office of the President of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Mr Bodom Matungulu and all sponsors, partners, guest speakers, delegates, chairpersons, advisory board, guests, and African governments for their valuable contributions to the success of Devac Infrasfuture 2022.