There was an interesting visitor at the recently concluded International Construction Week 2018 - the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia’s Minister of Construction Aisha Mohammed Mussa. We caught up with her for a a little chat.
Welcome to ICW2018 Madam Minister. What brings you here to ICW2018?
Thank you. The Ministry of Construction in Ethiopia was recently established and has been given the task to regulate the country’s construction industry. Malaysia is the country we want to benchmark, in terms of structural as well as rules and regulations.
From the CIDB website, we found that it contained, more or less, the things that we need to do in our country. Thus, our visit to ICW2018.
Have you met with the CIDB management?
Yes, we are here on a formal capacity. We have had several good discussions with CIDB and we are also planning to send our technical team here for training. This trip is focused on for pre-assessment and we are also learning a lot from this conference and exhibition.
What has been your takeaway from ICW2018?
We participated in the International Construction Transformation Conference 2018 (ICTC) and that has been amazing as productivity is also our aim. We are already doing a lot in Ethiopia, but we also realise that we need to increase our productivity further in order to meet our country’s development targets. So, being here has exposed us to a lot of important knowledge.
Do you already have a construction blueprint or masterplan in place?
Yes, we do. We have planned for a 10-year Capacity Development Programme, a holistic programme for the construction industry. However, we are still learning and want to do as much as possible because we don’t want to waste time and get things right quickly.
What will be the first thing you implement when you get back?
That would be the Construction Act. We need to regulate the industry and this is where we are lacking. Malaysia has already overcome that challenge with CIDB Act 520 and has in fact implemented other factors such as productivity, safety and health, and others.
For us, we are still at the beginning stage, where we must first regulate the industry first. That is the gap we need to close first.
It's great to meet a female construction minister. So, are there many women who are involved in construction in Ethiopia?
There are but not at the higher level. The majority of women are the daily labourers, but only a few in the managerial and skilled levels. The skilled women workers face a lot of challenges and they do not have much opportunity to occupy these positions.
Do you think you will inspire more women to take on important roles in construction?
Yes, of course. Women naturally manage very well, which is undoubtedly an asset. So, governments must recognise and explore how women can contribute to the industry - to fully utilise their natural talent in management and their way of thinking, in addition to women having basic knowledge in engineering.
[April 2, 2018]