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Self-regulation of Built Environment Professionals - The Architectural Association of Kenya (ArchAK)

According to the Kenya Institute for Public Policy Research and Analysis (KIPPRA) Kenya Economic Report 2017, the construction industry in Kenya contributed approximately 8.2% of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product in 2016.

The professions in the construction industry are currently regulated by the government through three boards: The Board of Registration of Architects and Quantity Surveyors (BORAQS); the Physical Planners Registration Board (PPRB) and the Engineers Board of Kenya (EBK).

ArchAK posits that the government has failed in exercising their mandate to regulate the professions as demonstrated by:

  • inability to ensure that all of all practising professionals are licensed annually e.g. BORAQS has about 900 licensed architects. There are approximately 1500 architects thought to be working in Kenya.
  • BORAQS does not provide for the licensing of other qualified professionals such as architects’ technicians who offer valuable services in the industry.
  • The failure to enforce disciplinary action on the professionals under the stated practice guidelines e.g. over the last eight years, only two architects have been deregistered by BORAQS due to malpractice.
  • The failure to conduct and publish research on changes and emerging trends in the industry.

BORAQS has drafted the Built Environment Practitioners (BEP) Bill that if enacted will replace the Architects and Quantity Surveyors Act (Cap 525). The proposed BEP Bill establishes a BEP Board whose proposed mandate is to:

  • exercise supervision and control over the training, registration and practice of various professions (architecture, quantity surveying, interior design and construction project management),
  • advise the government on all aspects related to these professions.

ArchAK, argues that the government has been ineffective in the regulation of professionals under the existing boards and therefore it is almost certain that the proposed BEP Board will also fail.

ArchAK wants to propose an alternate Bill providing for self-regulation of the various professionals in the built environment, specifically: Architects, Quantity Surveyors, Engineers and Urban Planners. ArchAK does not support the regulation of the other professions as there is no public interest imperative to regulate them. ArchAK cites the regulation of accountants in Kenya and engineers in the UK as models to be used to regulate these professions in Kenya.

Accountants in Kenya are governed by the Accountants Act which provides for the establishment, powers and functions of the Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Kenya (ICPAK) and the Kenya Accountants and Secretaries National Examinations Board (KASNEB). ICPAK promotes standards of professional competence and practice amongst its members and also advises the Cabinet Secretary of the National Treasury (CSNT) on matters relating to financial accountability of all sectors of the economy among other functions.

Engineers in the UK are self-regulated under the Engineering Council (EC), a body formed under a Royal Charter adopted in 1922. The EC is formed by 36 professional engineering institutions who assess and register individual professionals. The EC sets, maintains and reviews the UK standard for professional engineering competence. It also accredits all engineering degrees in the UK and supports the Continuing Professional Development and compliance with codes of practice and conduct.

ArchAK is seeking to establish a coalition to create a common voice for the private sector of the built environment professionals. The coalition, to be hosted by ArchAK, will conduct research to demonstrate and justify self-regulation for the built environment professionals. The Coalition will include representatives from the professions it proposes should be self-regulated; i.e. Architects, Quantity Surveyors, Engineers, and Town Planners.

Expected Outcome

ArchAK and other professionals will create a regulatory framework that places the onus on the professionals themselves. Self-regulation creates an environment wherein the professionals, on their own and in the national interest, are more likely to deliver higher professional standards and professionalism that are subjected to self-discipline. Only in instances where this fails should the government intervene.

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