President Mnangagwa yesterday launched three higher and tertiary education investment projects, in a move that saw seven investors committing $1,5 billion towards transforming the quality of education in universities, colleges and vocational training centres.
The international and local investors have already signed agreements with the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development and the deals are at various stages of implementation.
The projects launched included the infrastructure facility which will provide students and lecturers with accommodation, innovation, research and learning facilities and Eduzones and Wi-Fi facility that will see tertiary students getting free Internet access and affordable laptops.
A student loan facility was also launched which will see students getting flexible and affordable loans under a Pay As You Learn concept. The loans are meant to fund the students' tuition fees and educational equipment.
Fundi Capital, a leading education fund in South Africa, has committed $10 million to kick-start the loan scheme. President Mnangagwa said synergies between Government and the private sector would result in an accelerated economic growth rate.
"We have put behind an environment where we say them (private sector) and us (Government)," he said. "I say NO! We are all one. Let us together develop, modernise and industrialise our country. I am extremely happy that our private sector has responded in the manner they have done. This afternoon alone, they have committed $1,5 billion."
Liquid Telecoms is working on Eduzones and free Internet access, while DevTech will provide affordable laptops.
The other four firms BancABC, Strucfin Investments, Southwest Engineering and Royal Development are seized with infrastructure developments.
The injections by the firms follow an infrastructure investment conference Government held in March this year. President Mnangagwa said Government was committed to creating a conducive learning environment at all institutions.
As such, he said, his administration was considering putting incentives for public private partnerships (PPPs) to stimulate more investments in infrastructure development.
"It is imperative to understand that there is no country that can grow its economy, modernise and industrialise without investing in human capital," said President Mnangagwa.
"Higher and tertiary education is thus critical to socio-economic transformation path of any nation. Technology, new skills and competences are equally paramount to our productive efficiencies, industrial development and performance in today's global trade.
"In this regard, my Government will continuously strive to provide a dynamic system for human capital development which boosts and promotes our potential to value add and beneficiate our natural resources. I urge all sectors to fully utilise the innovation incubation hubs Government has set up at various institutions to conduct research and development, come up with new innovations and inventions for eventual production."
President Mnangagwa urged heads of tertiary institutions to develop robust and responsive strategies to develop their institutions in line with Vision 2030. Zimbabwe seeks to become a middle income economy in 12 years time.
"We equally challenge them to play a critical role in the development of the envisaged new provincial economies in our provinces," said President Mnangagwa. "There is need to capitalise on the comparative advantage of resource endowments in the respective provinces."
Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development Minister Professor Amon Murwira said Government was building a higher and tertiary education system "of our dreams".
"If we believe in ourselves we can interact with the rest of the world effectively," he said. "We interact because we have something to share, you (President Mnangagwa) have shown us that Zimbabwe is full of opportunities.
"You have also encouraged us to build this country brick by brick, stone by stone and we believe we can do this by providing the kind of education that we all want. You said we must do innovation that cause industry not that is caused by industry."
Prof Murwira said master plans for Marondera, Manicaland and Gwanda State Universities had been completed and captured the new thrust.
"If you go to the six universities where we are constructing incubation hubs, they are working 24/7 and have created a lot of employment opportunities," he said.
"They are construction zones. Our aim is to cultivate an inspiring environment for nurturing our students.
"They are our future and we must ensure they are well trained. We want to develop Zimbabwe in shockingly pleasant ways and today is testimony to this ambition."
The launch was attended by vice chancellors of universities, college principles, students, captains of industry and the investors. DevTech donated 40 laptops to Government.