A recent conference on management and maintenance heard that facility breakdown has become a challenge in Africa.
Hosted by the Botswana International University of Science and Technology (BIUST) on Thursday and Friday last week, the Engineering Facilities Maintenance of Management Technologies (EFM2T ’21) conference gathered engineering experts to share the latest knowledge in maintenance and management.
Various speakers emphasised the need to foster discussion across a wide array of themes to initiate collaborations within and across disciplines for advancement of maintenance and management of facilities.
Giving the inaugural address, BIUST Vice Chancellor, Professor Otlogetswe Totolo, said because Engineering Facilities Management has significantly evolved with time, there is a need to give it attention.
“Maintenance, by nature, is routine and recurring,” Professor Totolo said, adding that it is important to ensure that machinery and other facilities are kept intact in the course of their operation so that there is efficiency and minimum loss of time.
“It is worth noting that facilities breakdown has become a bit of a challenge in most developing countries, especially within the continent of Africa,” Professor Totolo noted. “The problem faced by Botswana and other nations is that of lack of facilities maintenance and management.
“In the olden days, it was a norm that a machine was used as long as it worked. When it stopped working, it would either get repaired, serviced or discarded. However, in the modern world, advanced equipment is sensitive to damage, hence it requires timely preventative maintenance.”
According to Totolo, maintenance serves an important function of preserving the lifespan of machinery and other equipment because it reduces costs meanwhile ensuring daily operations.
Speaking at the same conference, which was held virtually, the Deputy Vice Chancellor, Research, Development and Innovation, Professor Abraham Ogwu, said EFM2T conference was meant to address challenges around the concern that most countries in the continent of Africa do not focus enough on maintenance as they design, construct and deliver projects.
“This results in high downtime for plant availability and has proven to be a lot more expensive route,” Professor Ogwu noted. He added that the conference provides practitioners, academics, and policymakers with fresh opportunities for collaboration to improve the practice in Africa.
Professor Ogwu disclosed that BIUST currently chairs the OR Tambo Research Chair on Climate Change. “It is also the only African University to coordinate two Intra-Africa projects namely: Education for Laser-based Manufacturing (ELbM) and Pan African Planetary and Space Science Network (PAPSSN) consortia,” he said. “It generates over P16 million in research grants from national and international grant awarding bodies. “