JOINT STATEMENT BY THE MINISTERS OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND HIGHER EDUCATION, SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPMENT
PRIVATE SECTOR INVESTMENT IN ACCOMMODATION AND LEARNING FACILITIES FOR THE BENEFIT OF STUDENTS AND STAFF AT TERTIARY INSTITUTIONS
Over the years, the Government of Zimbabwe with the assistance of development partners has invested in the establishment and development of various learning institutions (universities, colleges, vocational training centres, etc) in the country. These institutions have continued to grow, in particular in terms of student enrolment. However, due to fiscal constraints as a result of economic challenges, investment by Government in learning, accommodation, sporting and other facilities at these state institutions has been severely constrained, resulting in available infrastructure and services not being adequate to meet demand and projected growth of the institutions.
Significant investment is, therefore, required in the area of laboratories, lecture theatres and student and staff accommodation facilities. Urgent investment in student accommodation is more critical given the acute challenges faced by students who have no access to secure and affordable accommodation which is conducive for an enabling and effective learning environment. For example, on-campus accommodation facilities at state universities across the country can only accommodate about 15% of total enrolled students. To address this gap, significant investment is required for both on-campus and off-campus accommodation facilities.
Emerging trends on the continent and the world over are for the private sector to invest in student accommodation and other support facilities for financial return and social impact, whilst the tertiary institutions themselves focus on learning and complimentary activities.
Given the scale of investment required to address these infrastructure requirements, Government is fully supportive of investment models that facilitate increased private sector participation in the education sector, such as Joint Ventures, Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) and Build-Own-Operate-Transfer (BOOT) which, where applicable, will be underpinned by necessary Government approvals within the framework of the Joint Ventures Act (Chapter 22:22) and structured to provide adequate comfort to private sector investors financing these facilities.
Consequently, Government initiatives to facilitate private sector participation are being coordinated through the Infrastructure Development Bank of Zimbabwe (IDBZ/ the Bank) and entails crowding in private sector investment into student accommodation and learning facilities to cover the infrastructure gap in the country’s institutions of higher learning. State Universities, tertiary and vocational colleges, along with investor institutions, are encouraged to approach the Bank to take advantage of the investment opportunities available in this sector which now represent growing investment prospects.
Government, through the respective ministries and departments will accelerate any required approvals to facilitate investments coming on board. Accordingly, the universities, tertiary and vocational colleges should also expedite the necessary internal processes to facilitate investments for the benefit of students and country.