Large-scale construction brings low-cost housing to Ethiopia

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Construction is the leading industrial sector in Ethiopia, responsible for the largest portion of the country’s economic growth, capacity building and employment rates for youth. 

As a civil engineer, Tihitina Yekoye Mengesha understands how vital infrastructure is to her country’s wellbeing and she enhanced her understanding as an Australia Awards alumna.

Tihitina is Delivery Director at OVID Construction PLC, a leading Grade One local contractor based in Ethiopia’s capital city, Addis Ababa. OVID works with international companies to execute large-scale government projects through low-cost technology solutions that contribute to alleviating poverty. 

‘One national goal is to provide low-cost, basic housing,’ says Tihitina. ‘This is essential for different segments of the population and is an excellent example of public and private collaboration.’

‘Ethiopia is at the stage where it can advance by using modern technology to gain efficiency and effectiveness,’ Tihitina says. 

‘We’re at the early stages of introducing alternative construction technologies for low-cost housing,’ Tihitina says. It’s exciting because this will have a direct benefit on the population and assist the government with its commitment to provide cost-effective housing for low and middle-income groups who need it most.’

Tihitina is working on the conception stages of real estate development projects using affordable housing construction technologies, drawing on the skills and knowledge she gained through her Master of Construction Management undertaken at Swinburne University of Technology (2015), focusing on civil engineering. 

The benefits of these large-scale projects stretch beyond infrastructure. They will create jobs and increase employment, especially for youth. ‘This will have a positive multiplier effect on families and communities,’ Tihitina says. 

Tihitina is passionate about helping the sector overcome its challenges, which includes poor planning, inefficient project management systems and lack of readiness to use alternative technologies.

 ‘While an Australia Awards scholar, I developed a Reintegration Action Plan focusing on advancing the construction industry and implementing best-practice planning and project monitoring upon my return,’ she says. ‘I developed essential project management skills, including using advanced project planning software. I also learned risk management essentials and fundamental civil engineering knowledge.’ 

Tihitina also undertook soft skills training while studying in Australia, which enhanced her leadership skills. She applies her skills when providing software training to her staff and technical employees, such as office engineers. 

It is also helping her work in what is known as a male-dominated industry.

‘It can be challenging, but my experience in Australia built my confidence to share my voice,’ says Tihitina.

As Delivery Director, Tihitina exercises project management, monitoring and evaluation, communications and liaison skills when engaging with stakeholders, including government bodies, financers and project developers. Her work also supports another national goal, to enhance the academic quality of institutions. ‘I contributed to a university industry linkage road map and to construction manuals used by technical and vocational schools,’ she says.

Tihitina has benefited in other ways through the Australia Awards. 

‘I established strong links with fellow alumni from Malaysia, Papua New Guinea and Sri Lanka, and experts at Swinburne University,’ she says. 

‘It’s a valuable network that informs professional development practice in key sectors and crosscutting areas. Even though we’re in different parts of the world, we share ideas and experiences by phone, emails and through social media.’

Feature from Alumni News Volume 27. Click here for full Alumni News.

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