The Sunday News
Judith Phiri, Sunday News Reporter
THE Government has set aside hundreds of millions of dollars that will see the construction of innovation hubs in six universities as well as infrastructural overhaul in the higher and tertiary education sector as part of the drive to ensure that institutions of higher learning contribute to the revival of the economy.
According to the Transitional Stabilisation Programme (TSP) which is the Government’s economic blueprint, six universities and tertiary colleges will have new infrastructure and infrastructural renovations at a cost of about $2,135 billion. The project which is intended to be completed by 2020, has proposed allocations of $134,6 million in 2019 and $106,8 million in 2020.
The short-term programme running from October 2018 to December 2020 recognises that investment in education is a key poverty reduction strategy as well as a vehicle for producing a skilled and capable workforce which will greatly assist in the country’s agenda of pushing the frontiers of production and it strives to ensure access to education for all.
Building of innovation hubs would be done at the National University of Science and Technology (Nust), Midlands State University (MSU), University of Zimbabwe (UZ), Harare Institute of Technology (HIT), Zimbabwe National Defence University (ZNDU), Chinhoyi University of Technology (CUT) and infrastructural renovations at teachers and vocational colleges.
“An estimated total cost of $91 million has been allocated for infrastructure at existing teachers’ colleges, there will be construction and rehabilitation of student and staff accommodation, teaching and learning facilities at teachers’ colleges, and the proposed allocations for 2019 is $16 million and $18 million for 2020.
“For infrastructure at existing vocational colleges the project will focus on construction and rehabilitation of student halls of residence and staff accommodation, teaching and learning facilities at vocational and industrial colleges. By 2020 the existing infrastructure will be rehabilitated, detailed designs and specifications for new infrastructure will be completed at an estimated total cost of the project $22 million and the proposed allocations for 2019 and 2020 is $10 million respectively,” read part of the TSP project description.
The universities were also allocated estimated total costs and proposed allocations for both 2019 and 2020 as the programme would prioritise the production of additional human capital at local polytechnics, teachers’ colleges and State universities, through the rehabilitation and expansion of existing tertiary institutions.
“At the University of Zimbabwe (UZ) in Harare there will be construction of a block comprising a laboratory, fabricating workshop, offices, studios and amphitheatre, garage and boundary wall. The estimated total cost is $9,7 million of which $6 million will be allocated next year and $1,5 million in 2020.
“There will be construction of a structure comprising laboratories, office, boardroom, exhibition room, computer labs, server rooms, reception, and teleconferencing rooms at the National University of Science and Technology (Nust) in Bulawayo at an estimated total cost of $6,4 million and a proposed allocation of $4,8 million should be availed by 2019.
“With the estimated cost of $6,9 million and proposed allocation of $5,5m in 2019 the Midlands State University (MSU) in Gweru there will be construction of innovation rooms, co-working spaces, conference rooms, offices, exhibition room, electronic slab, biology labs, chemical labs and general labs. Intended to be finished 2019,” read the TSP document.
In addition: “The Harare Institute of Technology will have construction of an auditorium, 30 incubation units, main boardroom, seminar room, offices, communal dining, and ablution facilities which are estimated at $5,2 million and should be completed with the proposed allocations of $3,2 million.
“At the Chinhoyi University there will be construction of workshops, reception, and ablution blocks, 8 laboratories, boardroom, canteen and two rental offices. An estimated total cost of $6,6 million is required with a proposed allocation of $5 million to be availed in 2019.
“Moreover, an estimated total cost of $8,6 million and a 2019 proposed allocation of $6,6 million was set for the Zimbabwe National Defence University in Mazowe, construction of a structure comprising laboratories, offices, boardroom, and exhibition rooms, computer labs, server rooms, reception, and teleconferencing rooms.”
Sustained and consistent implementation of the TSP measures represents Government’s commitment towards realisation of the aspirations of Zimbabwe’s Vision 2030: “Towards a Prosperous and Empowered Upper Middle Income Society with Job Opportunities and High Quality of Life for its Citizens”.
Last month President Mnangagwa said Zimbabwe’s economic vision is premised on massive investment towards innovation and research in key sectors such as education, mining and agriculture.
Officially opening the 8th Innovation for Africa Summit the President stated the importance of research and innovation as critical components to unlocking economic value, which should be implemented in sectors such as agriculture, energy and mining.
“Innovative techniques must be embraced along with new farming methods, new seed varieties and use of modern farming technologies. Equally, technology which facilitates the exploitation of new sources of energy, enhances our capacity to manufacture medical drugs and equipment for our health sectors in the context of African realities, must be developed.
“The vast mining resource endowments on the continent also demands that our science and technology, innovation and inventions are relevant and address the ongoing value addition, beneficiation and industrialisation drive,” said President Mnangagwa.
According to President Mnangagwa institutions of higher learning should be centres of excellence in scientific thinking and technological innovations. Presenting the 2018 budget, Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube allocated $380,8 million towards research and innovation to the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education.