Emerging Continents: Message to ISSMGE from Professor Samuel Uche Ejezie, The Vice President for Africa

from ISSMGE Bulletin – Volume 4 Issue 4 December 2010 (pp. 1-11)

Message to ISSMGE from the Vice President for Africa

Professor Samuel Uche Ejezie

Professor Samuel Uche EjezieDear professional colleagues of the geotechnical engineering family. My message is intended to sound like an echo reverberating from a Region where geotechnical engineering problems abound, yet the general world-wide perception remains that the profession is relatively not well-developed here. I have therefore programmed this message to cover the report of activities within the region both in the recent past and the present, as well as highlights of our key thrusts for the future.

On my assumption of office in Alexandria last year, I did pledge to work towards closer cooperation among African Member Societies of ISSMGE from North to South and from East to West (Fig. 1). This is with a view to integrating geotechnical engineering activities around the continent so that solutions to geotechnical engineering problems experienced in many parts of the region may be found within Africa itself. To demonstrate my continued commitment to this pledge, I made it a point of duty to participant in every event being organised by any African Member Society of ISSMGE. In the same vein I strongly encouraged our African members to join me in this crusade since it is for the good of our region. In fact, I have continued to advocate that geotechnical engineering should be practised in Africa without boarders so that we can together find local solutions to our ground engineering problems. The benefits of this cooperation have started manifesting, judging from the wide geographical spread of participants recorded in events organised by member societies in the Region in recent times. To me, the era of using models developed for soils of other climatic zones to solve problems related to the engineering behaviour of African soils is over. We have to work together to develop appropriate modes for soils of Africa.

Activities within the Region

In the distant past, Member Societies of African Region were generally known for relatively low level of activity. Of recent, however, that appears to be changing.

Figure 1. Map of Africa

Figure 1. Map of Africa

The last international quadrennial conference of ISSMGE in Alexandria, Egypt, apparently re-awakened the hitherto dormant national member societies. To date, at least eleven member societies exist in the Region though at different levels of activity. They include South Africa, Tunisia, Egypt, Nigeria, Ghana, Mozambique, CTGA (Comité Transnational des Géotechniciens d’Afrique), Sudan, Morocco, Libya, Algeria, and Kenya. We are currently making serious efforts to re-energise those of them that are considered to be less active (or inactive).

Since my assumption of office as Vice-President for Africa about one year ago, some of the member societies have carried out various activities which in some cases were international in scope. In fact, landmark Geotechnical Engineering events by member societies have been very noticeable and this has been particularly more pronounced in the two longitudinal extreme zones of the continent, namely North and South. The mid zone (sub-Sahara) is expected to catch up soon though it has peculiar challenges occasioned by unique socio-economic realities.

The major events/activities in the various member societies since the beginning of this year are summarised subsequently.

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