AETDEW History 2017-2022

The Academy of Engineering and Technology of the Developing World (AETDEW)


Dato Lee Yee Cheong, AETDEW founding President, has never abandoned his conviction that the world of the 21st century would more than ever require the global engineering and technological community to inform global policy makers how to apply engineering and technological innovations to solve the global challenges of poverty, hunger, illiteracy, ill health, gender inequality as well as environmental degradation and the adverse impact of climate change. Whilst the challenges are acute and urgent, there are very hopeful signs that engineering and technological innovations, especially in digital technologies, would be equal to the task and also nations of the developing world were pooling their resources through South-South Cooperation to collectively meet the global challenges.

 As one who has devoted his adult life to the establishment of academies like the Academy of Sciences Malaysia and the ASEAN Academy of Engineering and Technology and has worked tirelessly to encourage the establishment of academies of sciences in developing countries under the umbrella of the InterAcademy Partnership (IAP), he has firmly believed that the avenue for the global engineering and technological community to make its contributions to the solution of global problems is the Academy of Engineering and Technology of the Developing World (AETDEW).

He therefore put his proposal for AETDEW to the Governing Board of the UNESCO International Science, Technology and Innovation Centre for South-South Cooperation (ISTIC) in 2013 whilst he was chairman of ISTIC Governing Board. ISTIC Governing Board approved the establishment of AETDEW in 2014 after extensive consultation among ISTIC Governing Board members and STI partners in South countries. AETDEW was submitted to the Registrar of Societies (ROS) Malaysia for registration. AETDEW was duly registered as a legal society by ROS Malaysia. AETDEW Inaugural General Meeting was held in Kuala Lumpur, 15 May 2017 with 143 founding AETDEW Fellows from G77+China nations.

AETDEW Inaugural General Meeting 15 May 2017 Kuala Lumpur
AETDEW General Meeting 2018 Kuala Lumpur

The mission of AETDEW is to mobilise the engineering, technological and scientific community in the developing world to help the South to achieve the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030 through South-South Cooperation. Developing countries are increasingly being impacted by the global digital economy and the 4th industrial revolution. The movers and shakers are young engineering and technology entrepreneurs. In AETDEW’s membership, emphasis was given to assure that the young of both sexes are represented. AETDEW membership is guided by the following criteria:

(i) multi-stakeholder composition from inter-government, national government, industry, academia and civil society;

(ii) track record through science, engineering and technology in national development on the ground rather than academic qualification, publication and citation;

(iii) gender, generation and geographical balance.

The leader of the developing world and the champion of South-South Cooperation is undoubtedly China. The most impactful and significant development initiative for the developing world has undoubtedly been the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) of China. Dato Lee Yee Cheong has been assiduously promoting AETDEW membership in China and offering AETDEW for institutional and human resource capacity development under BRI, especially in the area of maintenance of infrastructure in developing countries. He has therefore been travelling to China several times a year to promote AETDEW in the following areas:

(i) widening the membership of AETDEW in China,

  • establishing AETDEW offices in China and
  • canvassing for recognition as a key player in BRI.

With his extensive network in China, it has been quite easy to expand AETDEW membership in China. As for AETDEW Offices in China, he went to Jinan, Shandong Province to pursue an offer from the Jinan Municipal Government to set up the AETDEW office in Jinan. He was warmly received by the Jinan Municipality Party Secretary and the Mayor of Jinan. Unfortunately, AETDEW could not find a meaningful project for Jinan Municipality to justify the AETDEW office in Jinan.

Meeting with Jinan Municipality Party Secretary

Finally in 2019, AETDEW accepted the kind offer of AETDEW Fellow He Chenguang, Executive Chairman, China National School Sports Robot Alliance, to have the AETDEW Office in China in his building in Beijing.

Visit to Office of AETDEW Fellow He Chenguang

As AETDEW was unknown in China, it had been difficult to get AETDEW associated with the BRI. Nevertheless, Dato Lee Yee Cheong and AETDEW Fellows visited the International Cooperation Centre of the China Development and Reform Commission once and its Silk Road Project Office twice to promote the setting up of a Belt and Road Infrastructure Maintenance Training Centre in Pakistan. The China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) has the most comprehensive infrastructure projects under the BRI and is the perfect venue for the training of engineers and technicians from Belt and Road countries with the multi-sector infrastructure projects as training grounds. To date, this has not received any positive response.