Puma Energy Malawi Limited chief executive officer Dr. Davies Lanjesi says a myriad of challenges the country is facing require innovative engineering solutions.
Lanjesi said this on Friday night at the Malawi Institution of Engineers (MIE) Dinner and Dance in Blantyre under the theme: â€˜The role of engineers in economic development: Transforming Malawi from a net importer to a net exporterâ€™.
â€œMalawi apparently is mired in a situation where its exports are primarily commodities without any or substantive value added. Where are engineers whose jobs is basically to change the form of one produce to another? An important feature of commodities that are exported without much value added is that their prices keep changing,â€ he said, at a function that brought almost all engineers in the country under one roof.
Lanjesi observed that statistics show that more than 60 percent of the countryâ€™s requirements for manufactured goods are met by imports.
â€œDoes that mean that we do not have scientific minds that are able to create something from nothing? All of us spent a long time in tertiary institutions and the majority of you have experience that surpasses those who manufacture the products we import. Where are we? What are we doing about it?â€ queried Lanjesi to an attentive audience.
He wondered why Malawi which has capable engineers is failing to measure up to the market and take advantage of the opportunities that are available.
Lanjesi advised local engineers to be up to scratch not to leave contracts to foreign companies, arguingÂ doing so means externalising foreign exchange which eats up into the countryâ€™s meagre foreign currency reserves.
He said when a local contractor does a job in Malawi, it means saving on foreign exchange.
Â Lanjesi did not spare Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (Escom) arguing the sole power supplier has â€˜highly trained and respectedâ€™ engineers, but Malawians still get explanations for power blackouts and a few solutions to resolve them.
â€œI am mindful of the mammoth gap between demand and current supply capacity. However, I believe we could have found some other innovative substitutions to keep the country supplied with power and fuel the economical growth,â€ he said.
MIE president Dr. Matthews Mtumbuka observed that engineers are the solution to the problems the world and, Malawi in particular, is facing.
â€œWe are the solution providers. We have to think deep and broad. What can we, as engineers, do to solve the problems? The world is looking up to us,â€ he said.
Mtumbuka cited motor vehicles, cell phones, aeroplanes, computers, among others, as works of engineers.
He called on engineers to think outside the box.