Government has made an initial $23 million drawdown from the $150 million fund that is meant for infrastructure development at some of the country’s State universities.
The $23 million is earmarked for on-campus accommodation and learning facilities at Midlands State University (MSU) and Lupane University.
Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development Minister Professor Amon Murwira said both MSU and Lupane had received their disbursements.
“I am very glad that there is work in progress and so far we have managed to drawdown $23 million from a loan facility of $150 million that we secured from CBZ Bank.
“From the $23 million, we gave $15 million to Lupane and $8 million to Midlands State Universities,” he said.
Government intends to build decent accommodation for students in tertiary institutions.
Prof Murwira said part of the funds will also be channelled towards facilities such as lecture rooms and laboratories.
“Government is concerned with inadequate accommodation at State universities. Over 15 000 of our students do not stay in campus accommodation.
“They are living in unfavourable conditions, hence the ministry has taken a new approach to the issue and we are engaging PPPs (Public-Private Partnerships) to build student housing,” he said.
The PPPs, he added, are set to give traction to the initiative as the previous approach, where Government tried to pursue the projects on its own, proved to be frustratingly slow.
“Previously, Government was solely responsible for funding at all State universities’ major projects, but the model was slow because we did not have the funds.
“We then decided to venture into Public-Private Partnerships so that they can help us to complete these projects timely,” he said.
Permanent secretary in the ministry Professor Fanuel Tagwira said the PPPs were an effective method of project financing since the loans could be amortised from through the user fees.
“We brought in investors from the private sector for the projects, and the money students pay will be used to pay back the loans over a certain period until we have repaid their investments and profits in full.
“In the near future, we also want to engage them to invest in solar projects so that universities shift from diesel-generated power, which is expensive.
“We are also calling for more investors in solar projects to ensure that universities do not encounter power cuts at all times,” said Professor Tagwira.