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As a leading construction group providing integrated construction solutions, ALEC is pioneering innovation in the built environment, utilizing advanced technology to increase efficiency.
ALEC provides turnkey solutions with business expertise in construction, electro-mechanical contracting, energy, engineering, and luxury refurbishment projects and have successfully delivered 89 projects ranging from airports, commercial and retail properties to hotels, resorts and residential developments.
Recognized as a leading contractor in the Middle East region, ALEC has received numerous accolades for excellence, quality, safety, reliability and sustainability.
ALEC has a focus on fostering a culture of innovation which is key to their business, enhancing solid collaboration and constant efficiency across projects and support services.
It is in that spirit that ALEC and AL for Infrastructure have established a partnership to explore the application of technology-driven solutions towards sustainable infrastructure that will be resilient, promote inclusivity and minimize the impacts of climate change, through the bright minds of future African leaders.
The Design and Innovation Challenge
ALEC and its related businesses realize the value in exploring and implementing sustainable practices within the construction industry and as such have conducted an in-depth sustainability audit across all of its project sites to identify areas that require improvement. Whilst ALEC is ahead of its competitors in several ways, this audit has brought to light, several areas where improvement or increased efficiencies can still be realized.
ALEC has prioritized the areas of energy consumption management, waste management, and water management. These areas have been constructed to resemble a challenge, wherein participants will be required to find suitable solutions to the presented challenges.
Within the categories of the three identified challenging areas of energy consumption management, waste management and water management, the teams were given four objectives:
- Create a management strategy;
- Identify practical modes of measurement of consumption;
- Provide three new ideas on ways of reducing waste;
- Identify one industry-recognized organization in the region that can partner with ALEC to support their endeavors in becoming a sustainability leader in the construction industry.
The challenge was open to the network, with many enthusiastic aspiring engineers applying to participate in this inaugural challenge. After careful assessment, 6 participants were chosen and organized into 3 teams.
- Energy Consumption Team: Akhente Borotho (Lesotho) and Wyckliffe Madunda (Kenya)
- Waste Management Team: Frida Mbabazi (Rwanda) and Wuntia Gomda (Ghana)
- Water Management Team: Jackson Opoku (Ghana) and Nkem Ehujuo (Nigeria)
The Design and Innovation Challenge was launched on 25 July 2021 with a structured program spread over 6 weeks. The teams were provided with relevant study materials and supported by ALEC’s experienced engineering professionals through a series of weekly sessions where each team had the opportunity to engage, seek clarity and receive guidance.
We asked the teams to reflect on their experience during the course of the challenge.
Nkem – “My participation in the Design and Innovation Challenge has deepened my research skills. Time management was fundamental in meeting the deliverables of the challenge since it became bulky at some point. The greatest challenge encountered was getting the required resources from the internet since some information was not readily available. I have learned to utilize these ideas for personal endeavors such as further research and development”.
Wuntia – “This program was both challenging and rewarding, and I am grateful for the opportunity to engage with the construction industry through ALEC and contribute to the sustainable waste management movement within the sector. My toughest challenge was figuring out how to build solutions for a company with which I had little face-to-face contact and within tight deadlines. Because of the tight deadlines, I realized the necessity of churning out as many ideas as possible, regardless of their breadth or potential, because the next major breakthrough could be buried in that pile, just waiting to be discovered.”
Frida – “Understanding assigned tasks that I had no prior experience with was the most challenging part. Still, the help of our coordinators, who were willing to assist us at any point during our assigned task, allowed us to make further and productive progress. Lastly, through this challenge, I have learned to communicate with my teammate and my coordinators properly.”
Jackson – “Our greatest challenge for my teammate Nora [Nkem] and me was the time difference and the tight schedule for the challenge. During the innovation challenge, I was in the United States collaborating with her in South Africa, about 9 hours’ time difference. So you get the feel of how difficult it was for both of us. All our weekly presentation was either 1 am, 3 am or 4 am at my end… The innovation challenge has helped me understand the steps and processes that ideas need to go through before it is implemented in the real world, thus the industry, which is not taught in schools. One most important takeaway for me is the improvement in my teamwork and technical communication capabilities. I have learned a lot from this project.
The teams presented their final business cases on 02 September 2021. The ALEC and AL for Infrastructure teams were captivated by the exceptional solutions produced, the teams clearly illustrating their ingenuity, understanding of ALEC’s business practices, and application of innovative techniques.
The Energy Management team, Akhente Boroto and Wyckliffe Madunda were unveiled as winners on 13 September 2021.
Tyron Holgate, Innovation Specialist at ALEC was leading all aspects of the program. Sharing his perspective on the work produced by the teams, he said the following:
“A program such as this challenges the most seasoned of engineers and construction professionals alike. We run the exact same program structure within our own organization when doing these explorations and no leniency was awarded to the participants here. The deliverables were substantial, the timelines were tight, and the teams rose to the occasion! These 6 individuals are an excellent example of what can be achieved through clear objectives and the pure determination to achieve them”.
Valerie Wiggett, Director of Sector Programs at ALA was proud of the proposals by the teams and indicated that from a strategic point of view, implementing these types of partner programs would go a great way to assist ALA to achieve its goals to deliver notable impact on the continent through the skills development of young leaders.
“This was the first design challenge of its kind for the AL for Infrastructure network and set a high bar for any challenges that follow. The teams really brought their A-game. It was an excellent way to expose our network members to top-quality employer partners and for them to be able to deep dive into the employer partner’s environment and create real solutions for the business.
It’s also important for our employer partners to see how talented our network members are and what they are capable of. I would like to see this type of program replicated with a number of key employer partners, as it can benefit both parties and possibly create more opportunities in a sector that has been severely impacted by the pandemic”.