TERTIARY institutions should transform their centres into industrial hubs, which produce personal protective equipment (PPEs), sanitisers and masks for Covid-19 to reduce the import bill and resuscitate the country's economy.
Vice President Kembo Mohadi, who is the chairperson of national taskforce on Covid-19, said this while assessing the University of Zimbabwe's performance in the making of PPEs and sanitisers.
Five State universities with engineering and technology capacity have been roped in to produce PPEs and sanitisers.
Further, Government has bolstered efforts to capacitate Verify Engineering, a technology development parastatal under the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development to produce 30 tonnes of medical oxygen monthly.
"I am happy about the developments which I have witnessed here," said VP Mohadi at the University of Zimbabwe. "I am here to see what contributions they are making towards the fight against Covid-19 pandemic.
"Zimbabwe, like all other countries globally, has not been spared by the pandemic, which started in China and has now engulfed all countries across the world. Zimbabwe is not spared and is among them.
"As a Government, we found it proper to put in place mechanisms or committees that will look into how we can possibly alleviate the spread of Covid-19.
"So, we did that by coming up with a committee, an ad hoc, inter-ministerial committee.
"In doing so, we found out that there was quite a lot we need as Zimbabweans which we did not have, that is PPEs. That is what the University of Zimbabwe was tasked to do through the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development."
VP Mohadi said that the country did not have enough foreign currency to import PPEs to fight the spread of the pandemic, hence tertiary institutions should manufacture them.
"We do not have enough foreign currency to import all what is required in terms PPEs," he said.
"As you all know that we are under sanctions, which means that we don't have enough foreign currency to order those."
VP Mohadi said the country had to find ways of ensuring that universities did for the country, especially after the introduction of 5.0 education that is designed to equip students with industrial skills.
He was accompanied by Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Monica Mutsvangwa, Minister of Industry and Commerce Dr Sekai Nzenza, Minister Amon Murwira, among others.
VP Mohadi commended the efforts being made at the institution to transform education from theory to practice, which is aimed at transforming the economy.