Minister of Education Agnes NyaLonje has launched an accommodation project for public universities that is projected to benefit 4 700 students in the initial phase.
The public universities accommodation project is being implemented under the Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement and comes amid an acute shortage of accommodation units for public university students blamed on government’s policy to increase intake in recent years without supporting infrastructure.
Speaking during the launch of the first construction phase at the University of Malawi College of Medicine Lilongwe campus yesterday, NyaLonje affirmed government’s commitment to solving students’ accommodation challenges.
She said: “Students should expect high-quality accommodation of international standards that will gradually extend to all public universities.”
PPP Commission acting chief executive officer Audrey Mwala said the project launch culminates from 2016 when the commission signed contracts with M & M Consortium and Old Mutual plc.
She attributed the implementation delays to lack of financing for feasibility studies which needed consultants’ expertise; hence, the PPPC had to conduct the studies on its own.
Mwala said: “We are now excited that after preparatory hard work on the ground, Old Mutual plc have started implementing the projects. M & M Consortium failed to fulfill some conditions; hence, you observed recently that we advertised for new applications for the project to fill the space that was left.”
On her part, Old Mutual plc group chief executive officer Edith Jiya said they will construct hostels for College of Medicine Lilongwe and Blantyre campuses as well as for the Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (Luanar).
She said the first phase at College of Medicine Lilongwe campus will be completed by December 2021 while the Blantyre campus project will begin towards the end of the year. The Luanar project is scheduled to start early next year.
In 2016, the PPPC signed contracts with M & M Consortium and Old Mutual plc worth $425 million to construct student accommodation hostels with 20 280 beds for Luanar, College of Medicine, Chancellor College, Mzuzu University, Malawi University of Science and Technology and The Polytechnic.