The population growth in Africa will place significant demands on the continent, which must be met in light of resource constraints and environmental considerations. The central challenge is to ensure that sustainable infrastructure enables African cities to grow by multiples in population and economic strength while growing disproportionately slower in terms of resource consumption, costs, greenhouse gas emissions, and other pertinent factors. To achieve these goals in Africa requires efforts to develop new approaches to building sustainable infrastructure at low cost, identify the extent and nature of engineering knowledge and talent needed to build sustainable cities, and devise new approaches to scale up engineering education and talent production efforts to meet the required cadre of engineers. Meeting these objectives could require substantially re-imagining and re-inventing engineering education.
Our initial work within EESC-A explores the status of engineering education in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), opportunities and challenges that its academic institutions encounter, and the extent to which new education models based on information technologies are being implemented. Such models include distance learning, the use of “MOOCs” and “SPOCs,” and the roles of engineering software tools and “virtual labs.” Geographically we have a pan-African mandate, and are seeking to contribute where resource constraints amplify related challenges, while simultaneously innovation in education may have the greatest social and environmental impact.
As a way of greatly accelerating those efforts, we seek to create a new partnership called the Network for Engineering Education for Sustainable African Cities (NEESAC). Our long-term goal is to build a network of researchers and collaborators centered here at UofT, with additional participants and partnerships elsewhere in engineering schools (and other institutions) in Canada and in Africa.
Its specific objectives will be: (1) working with and facilitating African educators and theorists to define what is sustainable cities engineering from an African perspective, (2) developing relevant content modules and courses, some broad and some specific to countries, issues and even specific institutions, (3) partnering with African universities more broadly, primarily through electronic approaches, to help them in educating future engineers, (4) actively involving UofT scholars and students in engaging with African counterparts, by pointing to specific issues and topics for research efforts, and (5) pursuing resulting “reverse innovation” opportunities for our students and our educational activities on campus at UofT.
To achieve our mission we have set out to understand the African context of engineering education and sustainable cities, and have completed visits to many cities in Africa. To understand the issue, we visited a mix of both traditional and emerging institutions as listed below and shown on the map.
- University of Nairobi, Kenya
- University of Rwanda
- Makerere University, Uganda
- University of Addis Ababa/AAIT, Ethiopia
- Stellenbosch University, South Africa
- KNUST, Ghana
- Cairo University, Egypt
- Kenyatta University, Kenya
- Ain Shams University, Egypt
- Durban University of Technology, South Africa
- University of Zambia
- Covenant University, Nigeria
- University of Lagos, Nigeria
- Obafemi Awolowo University, Nigeria
- Open University of Tanzania
- University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
- University of Cape Town, South Africa
- University of Johannesburg, South Africa
- Ardhi University, Tanzania
- Copperbelt University, Zambia
- Tshwane University of Technology, South Africa
- Central University of Technology, South Africa
- African Virtual University
- African Leadership University
- Kepler, Rwanda
- Ashesi, Ghana
Events and Workshops
Metcalfe, M., Ibrahim, N., and Luo, C., (2017). EDTech Workshop 2017: (Pedagogy + Practice) x Purpose. Bahen Centre, University of Toronto, May 12 2017. Presented a session on “(Scalability + Sustainable Cities) x Africa”
Ibrahim, N., (2017). “Engineering Education for Sustainable Cities in Africa.” AEDC – African Engineering Deans Council Summit “Engineering for Socio-Economic Development of Africa” & 3rd Engineering Education Summit organized by the African Engineering Education Association, Covenant University, July 2017, Ota, Nigeria
Metcalfe, M., (2017). “Entrepreneurship and African Urban Infrastructure: Seeking the Intersection.” DII – 2017, International Conference on Infrastructure Development and Investment Strategies for Africa (Theme: Infrastructure and Sustainable Development – Impact of Regulatory Institutional Framework), Aug/Sept 1 2017, Livingstone, Zambia
Research and Publications
Publications and Conferences
Demmans Epp, C., Phirangee, K., Després-Bedward, A., & Wang, L., (2017). Chapter 3: Resourceful instructors & students. In IAmLearning: Mobilizing and Supporting Educator Practice. Retrieved from https://iamlearning.pressbooks.com/part/ch-3-resourceful-instructors-and-students-overcoming-barriers-to-integrating-mobile-tools/
Després-Bedward, A., (2017). Engineering Education for Sustainable Cities in Africa: A Case for Rwanda. Proceedings 2017 of the CEEA (Canadian Engineering Education Association) Conference. Toronto, June 4-7.
Després-Bedward, A., and Newfield, K., (2017). Engineering Education for Sustainable Cities in Africa: Case Studies from Kenya. SEFI 2017 45th Annual Conference (Theme: Education Excellence for Sustainability). Organised by the Instituto Superior de Engenharia do Porto (ISEP), Azores, Portugal, Sept 18-21.
Evans, G., Ibrahim, N., Rogalski, P., Romskey, L., Variawa, C., Weiss, P., (2018). “Engineer of 2050.” Canadian Engineering Education Association (CEEA) Annual Conference, Vancouver, BC, June 3-6, 2018.
Hoornweg, D., Ibrahim, N., Luo, C., (2017). Chapter 22. Educating Engineers for the Anthropocene, In: Assadourian, E. and Mastny, L. eds., State of the World 2017: EarthED: Rethinking Education on a Changing Planet. Washington, Worldwatch Institute, Island Press, pp. 267-277.
Hoornweg, D., Luo, C., Ibrahim, N., Haight, M., Hosseini, M., (2018). “The use of sustainability cost curves to enhance ‘green’ engineering: Illustration of the methodology in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.” 1st International Conference on New Horizons in Green Civil Engineering (NHICE), April 25-27, 2018, Victoria, BC.
Ibrahim, N., Metcalfe, M., Rezaie, R., Hoornweg, D., Evans, G., Drake, J., Després-Bedward, A., Klassen, M., Luo, C., Moozeh, K., and Newfield, K., (2016). “Engineering Education for Sustainable Cities in Africa.” 8th Conference on Engineering Education for Sustainable Development, Bruges, Belgium, September 4-7.
Ibrahim, N., Luo, C., and Metcalfe, M. (2017). Developing Africa’s Future City Engineers. DII – 2017, International Conference on Infrastructure Development and Investment Strategies for Africa (Theme: Infrastructure and Sustainable Development – Impact of Regulatory Institutional Framework), Livingstone, Zambia, Aug 30-Sept 1.
Ibrahim, N., Musonda, I., Olukanni, D., Siame, G., and Rezaie, R., 2018. Panel on Grand Challenges and Opportunities for Urban Sustainability in Africa. DII – 2018, International Conference on Infrastructure Development and Investment Strategies for Africa (Theme: Readying Africa for Sustainable Development: A Capacity Building/Empowerment and Strategy Discourse), Marriot Protea Hotel, Livingstone, Zambia, July 11-13 2018. Click here to access the panel summary report.
Ibrahim, N., and Rezaie, R., 2018. Workshop on Online Engineering Education in the Age of Urban Sustainability. DII – 2018, International Conference on Infrastructure Development and Investment Strategies for Africa (Theme: Readying Africa for Sustainable Development: A Capacity Building/Empowerment and Strategy Discourse), Marriot Protea Hotel, Livingstone, Zambia, July 11-13 2018. Click here to access workshop summary report.
Ismail, M., McPherson, M., and Metcalfe, M. (2017). Centralized vs. Decentralized Electricity Generation in Zambia: Sustainable Options in the Context of Climate Disturbances. DII – 2017, International Conference on Infrastructure Development and Investment Strategies for Africa (Theme: Infrastructure and Sustainable Development – Impact of Regulatory Institutional Framework), August 30-Sept 1 2017, Livingstone, Zambia.
Luo, C., MacLean, H. L., and Hoornweg, D. (2017), “A spatial planning approach to assessing energy resource flows in African cities.” International Research Conference on Strategies for Sustainable Energy Transitions in Urban Sub-Saharan Africa (SETUSA), June 2017, ISSER, University of Ghana, Accra (with University College London Energy Institute).
Luo, C., MacLean, H. L., and Hoornweg, D. (2017), “A spatial planning approach to assessing energy resource flows in African cities.” IAPS 2017 Conference (Dar es Salaam), Theme: Knowledge for climate-proof urban development in rapidly changing environments, September 2017, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
Metcalfe, M., (2018) “New Entrepreneurial Approaches to Engineering Urban Infrastructure: The African High-Growth Case.” 1st International Conference on New Horizons in Green Civil Engineering (NHICE), April 25-27, 2018, Victoria, BC
Moozeh, K., Ibrahim, N., Rezaie, R., Astatke, Y., Metcalfe, M., and Evans, G., 2018. “Alternative Approaches to Undergraduate Engineering Laboratory Experience for Low-income Nations.” 2018 American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) Annual Conference & Exposition. Salt Lake City, UT, June 24-27, 2018.
Zingaro, D., Makos, A., Sharmin, S., Wang, L., Després-Bedward, A., & Oztok, M., 2017. Student Moderators in Asynchronous Online Discussion: Scaffolding Their Questions. In EdMedia: World Conference on Educational Media and Technology (pp. 198-202). Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE). June 2017.
Read about EESC-A’s online course initiatives and how you can contribute in EESC-A Guide to Collaborative Content Creation
“Sustainable Cities: Adding an Africa Perspective” is a 4-week online course, which introduces students to the theories and strategies to reimagine cities from an urban sustainability perspective. The course modules are beginner level building blocks that cater to the new inter-disciplinary trend around Cities Engineering. The modules provide an introduction to concepts of sustainability, urbanization, climate change; strategies for best practices in the design of new cities and redesign of existing ones; and tools and methodologies for environmental assessments, material flows, and urban metabolism. Each module is expected to take 2-3 hours for completion, this includes following the videos, reading through the global cities and African cities examples, and completing assessments, contributing to discussions and reflections. The course activities and interactions will enable students to examine cities in developed and developing world contexts, in addition to re-imagining the great African cities of the future. Click here to access the course.
The four modules are:
- Introduction to Urbanization: Growth of World Cities
- Concepts of Sustainable Cities and Communities
- Principles of Sustainable Urban Design
- City Performance Indicators and Methods of Assessment