US$75 million boost for university accommodation

Infrastructure development financier, the Infrastructure Development Bank of Zimbabwe, or IDBZ, says it has begun work on the construction of student halls of residence at five of the country’s state universities under the first phase of its university students and staff accommodation project.

The financier said the construction of the hostels at Lupane State University and the National University of Science and Technology in Bulawayo, as well as at Bindura University of Science Education, Chinhoyi University of Technology and the University of Zimbabwe would cost US$75 million to complete.

IDBZ Director of Infrastructure Projects Desmond Matete told University World News that so far US$6 million had been sunk into pre-investment, project development costs and appraisal processes.

“Our design process has already begun and should be completed by mid-June 2017. Following the bank’s tender procedure for appointment of suitable contractors, the bank plans to commence construction before 31 July 2017,” Matete said.

Construction of the hostels is expected to take 24 months, with each university benefitting from a uniformly designed structure that holds a maximum of 1,250 students, explained Matete.

Upon completion, the entire project will directly benefit approximately 6,250 students. The project is part of government efforts to alleviate widespread accommodation shortages bedevilling the poorly-funded universities.

Rapid growth in enrolment by universities in recent years has resulted in services and accommodation demands outstripping infrastructure and service capacity leaving nearly 75% of the student population with no access to on-campus accommodation.

According to the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development, the country currently has 20 universities, 14 teachers colleges, eight polytechnics and five industrial training centres with a combined student population of 152,529 and staff population of 18,153, requiring at least 562 student hostels and 10,836 staff houses.

The first phase of IDBZ’s university students and staff accommodation project will provide accommodation to beneficiary universities while the second phase will focus on delivery of ancillary infrastructure such as lecture theatres, laboratories, seminar rooms, workshops, administration blocks, student service centres, and sporting and recreational facilities.

The IDBZ students and staff accommodation project is a prelude to a similar project where one of the country’s leading financial institutions, CBZ Holdings, is currently on the market to raise US$2 billion for infrastructure facilities at the state-run institutions of higher learning.

All stated-owned tertiary education institutions perilously depend on government for their funding, and in the face of declining financial support from the exchequer, the institutions critically need investments in physical infrastructure.