Engineering : which sectors are currently hiring qualified profiles in Africa ?
Posted at 21/11/2022
However, African countries are increasingly aware of the role of engineering as a driver of sustainable socio-economic development. Several governments have made science a national priority and placed STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education at the heart of their educational programs. As a result, in 2021, among the top 20 countries with better-than-expected innovation performance relative to their level of economic development, six were located in Africa.
Despite this awareness, it will take several more years for these investments to bear fruit, and African countries continue to rely on engineers from abroad to develop their key economic sectors. This increased investment, coupled with an ongoing demand for talent and a labor shortage, makes the African continent an increasingly attractive destination for engineers. Here is a range of sectors where you can find rewarding career opportunities in Africa.
Africa's major oil producers are currently undergoing a revolution. In addition to their oil business, these countries are now diversifying their exports by increasing their mineral export potential tenfold. Nigeria, whose crude oil accounts for about 90% of export revenues, would like to increase its exports of the more than forty types of minerals the country has, including marble, coal, iron ore, gold, silica, lead, or zinc.
Similarly, Angola is now turning to metals crucial to the energy transition, such as lithium, nickel, or cobalt, which are in increasing demand as the world moves away from fossil fuels to more environmentally friendly alternatives. This development offers many opportunities for petroleum and chemical engineers, as well as mineral exploration geologists who can identify areas for critical mineral exploration.
Energy and green developments
Faced with the climate emergency, several countries such as Egypt, Ethiopia and Kenya are mobilizing to develop green infrastructures, accelerate the use of renewable energy, and have embarked on the construction of smart cities, designed to be more environmentally sustainable. Casablanca, Dar es Salaam and Nairobi are all cities that want to reconcile economic development with respect for the environment. According to a report by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), in collaboration with the African Development Bank (AfDB), Africa will create 26 million additional jobs by 2050 as a result of the energy transition. The African continent therefore offers attractive opportunities related to environmental issues, especially if you are looking for a job in the field of environmental and industrial risk engineering, civil engineering, renewable energy and energy efficiency studies or climate engineering.
Africa is facing dangerous levels of water stress. Droughts and floods are increasing in intensity on the continent, and cities and farms regularly face water shortages. Fortunately, the continent also has significant untapped water resources that, if properly managed, can contribute to its development.
For example, the Integrated Water Security Platform (IWSP) project in Niger, which is part of the country's national action plan for integrated water resources management, presents a model of an innovative solution for the continent. The demand for experts in water management will certainly increase in the coming years, with an increased demand for water and sanitation engineers, environmental research engineers and water and environmental management engineers.
Agriculture is the backbone of the African economy. Nearly 65% of Africa's workforce is employed in agriculture, which accounts for 32% of the continent's GDP. Africa is also home to about 60% of the world's uncultivated arable land. These advantages could make Africa the world's breadbasket and an economic powerhouse. Currently, however, this potential is largely untapped.
With improved agricultural technology, however, Africa could double or even triple its grain production, and engineers will play an important role in promoting African agriculture. Various areas of engineering knowledge are essential in this process: mechanical engineers (essential in the development and maintenance of machinery and equipment), chemical engineers (to develop better fertilizers and pesticides), hydraulic engineers (in charge of designing irrigation systems), and of course agricultural engineers.
The face of the African construction industry is changing. Factors such as rapid urbanization, economic growth in several countries, and the rise of the middle class have contributed to a steady increase in demand for Africa's construction sector, which is growing rapidly on the continent and contributing significantly to employment. In 2019, approximately $500 billion was invested in the 452 largest projects in Africa, and the total size of the African construction market is estimated to be around $10 trillion annually.
Construction projects on the continent are becoming larger and more complex, creating many opportunities for highly skilled engineers, and in particular for civil engineers (architectural engineering, construction engineering, road engineering, transportation engineering, etc.).