A Memorandum of Understanding has been signed between Zambia’s Ministry of Housing and Infrastructure and the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) of the United Kingdom and the Zambia Institute of Architects (ZIA) in the field of Architecture, the built environment and urban development.
In the spirit of enhancing Cultural Relations and People to People contacts between the United Kingdom and Zambia, the London Mission is keen in promoting an understanding between the Zambia Institute of Architects (ZIA) and the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) and both parties are aggregable to promoting and developing cooperation between them and with the Ministry of Housing and Infrastructure Development in Zambia on the basis of reciprocal benefits.
According to the statement released to the media by Mrs Abigail Chaponda, First Secretary for Press and Public Relations at the Zambia High Commission in the United Kingdom, Zambia’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom His Excellency Mr. Muyeba Chikonde witnessed the signing of the Agreement by the president of the Royal Institute of British Architects, Ben Derbyshire who signed for RIBA. The ceremony marked the conclusion of the signing of the MoU as the Ministry of Housing and Infrastructure development and ZIA president Architect Kelly Kalumba signed on behalf of the Zambia Institute of Architects in a preceding ceremony in Zambia.
The MOU creates a framework for cooperation in the field of built environment policy and extends to include such areas as town planning, urban design policy, education, professional standards and building technology. The parties will encourage the exchange of training courses, expert visits and scientific research in the fields of build environment, urban sustainability policy, building regulations and associated standards development, professional standards development and entrepreneurship including development and management of Smart Cities.
Others include; architecture studies and competitions, student exchange programmes, continuing professional development and capacity building in the field of urban planning, conservation of architectural heritage, policies relating to community engagement, building technologies and building information modelling (BIM).
High Commissioner Chikonde said even though the MoU covers broad areas of architecture, the built environment and urban development policy, nothing stops the parties to pursue other innovative projects such as; the development of production capacity by local entrepreneurs in local building materials; promotion of good building practices and use of indigenous building materials; the development of building codes and standards for locally manufactured building materials to make them more competitive on the regional and international markets; strengthening capacities of local authorities to develop and implement sustainable master plans and to formulate appropriate national human settlement policies that address today’s changing world.
The High Commissioner who is an architect by profession and a member of the Institute said the ZIA and allied professions such as Engineers, Surveyors and Planners need to be strengthened so that they contribute meaningfully to the country’s development.
“Architects should make themselves relevant to society as there is much more beyond the provision of traditional services of building design and supervision. We need to start having difficult conversations amongst ourselves as to why architectural or engineering services are not being utilized by the majority of our people; why some settlements are mushrooming without due consideration to support services; why our cities and towns continue to be unfriendly to pedestrians, cyclists and persons with mobility challenges; why with the abundance of raw materials and technical knowledge our local building materials industry has remained inadequately exploited and underdeveloped. We need to step up by getting involved in providing homegrown innovative, realistic, practical human settlements solutions to our citizens and through advocacy and constant engagement with Government and all stake holders, thus the reason for including, in the Agreement, the Ministry of Housing and Infrastructure Development,” he said.
The High Commissioner said His Excellency President Edgar Lungu in the address to Parliament in September last year provided policy guidance for engagement in this field by stating that Government was concerned with the infrastructure deficit and expressed the urgent need to address developmental inequalities through promotion of integrated rural development and provision of market linkages between the rural and urban areas while continuing to prioritize urban and rural housing development as well as the upgrading of informal settlements in cities and peri-urban areas.
“What we are witnessing today is an endeavor to create a platform for addressing these challenges through transfer of skills, experiences and best practices mutually among three parties; two professional bodies, RIBA and ZIA and a government Ministry responsible for Housing and infrastructure which in practical sense is a Public-Private-Partnership arrangement” he said.
High Commissioner Chikonde expressed gratitude to government for expediting the MoU and also thanked ZIA president and Council and the RIBA for their commitment to the process and the willingness to immediately put to practice the cooperation agreement.
And RIBA president Ben Derbyshire implored institutes of Architects around the world to desire to become relevant among young people and encouraged the future generation to take up architecture as a profession to have a continued high quality built-environment.
He said it is important for the younger generation to be inspired to become architects from an early stage saying the positive influence of clean, receptive, interactive buildings and urban spaces on the younger generations is fundamental to the development of sustainable environments.
And RIBA past vice president- international Peter Oborn who is chair of RIBA Ethics and Sustainable Development Commission said the RIBA was particularly pleased to have signed this agreement in the week leading up to Commonwealth Head of Government Meeting (CHOGM-2018) as it resonated strongly with the theme of this year’s meeting, ‘Towards a Common Future’. It was also particularly relevant in the context of Sustainable Development Goal 11 and the aim ‘to make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable’.
“This is, of course, especially relevant for many countries on the African continent, including Zambia, if the social, economic and environmental challenges and opportunities created by increasing levels of urbanisation are to be effectively managed” he said.