Zimbabwe: Revisit Master Plan, Varsity Urged

26 March 2020

Manicaland State University of Applied Sciences (MSUAS) has been urged to revisit its master plan to include innovation hubs and industrial parks in line with the Transitional Stabilisation Programme (TSP).

MSUAS, which was established in 2016, is yet to construct permanent structures.

The university has been operating in pre-fabricated structures at the main campus in Fernhill.

Land has been availed for satellite campuses in Nyanga, Chipinge and Makoni, which are yet to be built.

Stakeholders who met in Mutare last week to discuss the state of various development projects being done in the province, agreed that MSUAS master plan had no structure that fits into the plans for an industrial park.

Manicaland Provincial Affairs Minister Dr Ellen Gwaradzimba said MSUAS was located next to the Fernhill Special Economic Zone, which will house the world-class Gemology Centre, hence the need for the campus to meet such standards.

"There are a lot of anomalies in terms of our current thinking with regards to buildings and their quality. We have said we want world-class buildings that look at vertical expansion, but our plan for the university is very expansive.

"All stakeholders need to revisit that plan so that we can have a modern university. The good thing is that we have identified this early before any permanent structure has been constructed so we can always go back to the drawing board and do what is in line with the national development thrust," she said.

Government has funded the construction of innovation hubs at the University of Zimbabwe, Midlands State University, the National University of Science and Technology and Harare Institute of Technology.

Great Zimbabwe University is constructing its innovation hub.

MSUAS has not received funding which will only be released once it starts building permanent structures.

The innovation hub and industrial park had initially been earmarked to be established within the SEZ, but advisors have called on the province to separate the projects to enable the Gemology Centre to attract its own investment with no interference from the industrial park.

Advisor to the Minister of State, on plan infrastructure development Mr Hillary Mukaratirwa said the plan for MSUAS did not inspire expansion, but if it is redone, it can accommodate the innovation hub as well as the industrial park.

"If we redo the plans, we can fit the innovation hub and industrial park in there since the university has satellite centres. The university is right next to the SEZ so it has to meet the quality of the work that will be done there.

"You need to talk to planners. You might need additional land, but you really need to consider this," he said.

Innovation hubs provide a platform for innovators and researchers to develop their innovations up to prototypes with the aid of experienced staff in the area of technical skills development, entrepreneurship and business incubation.

Deputy Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation and Science and Technology Raymore Machingura encouraged authorities from Manicaland to visit other universities that have built innovation hubs to get an appreciation of how the idea works.

He said the industrial park could become a cash cow for the province.

"We are keen for Manicaland to have its innovation hub which will harness all the brilliant ideas that come from here and feed into the industrial park," he said.

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