Gwanda State Varsity complex to boost mineral beneficiation Dr Gumbo

Yoliswa Dube-Moyo Bulawayo Bureau

THE construction of an Engineering Laboratory and Innovation Complex at Gwanda State University is set to spur mineral beneficiation and exploration initiatives as the country moves towards attaining a $12 billion mining milestone by 2023.

The project dovetails with Government’s National Development Strategy (NDS1), which supports establishment of centres of excellence to provide universities and colleges platforms for innovation and domestication of value chains.

The university’s innovation complex is one of the top projects being implemented under the 100-day cycle programme.

It is currently at ring-beam stage and completion of the superstructure is earmarked for September while equipping the facility will be done next February.

Speaking after a tour of the complex at the Gwanda State University Epoch Mine Campus in Filabusi on Wednesday, Minister of State for Presidential Affairs responsible for Monitoring Implementation of Government Programmes, Dr Joram Gumbo, said projects being implemented under the 100-day cycle serve as building blocks towards the achievement of development goals as set out under NDS1 and the subsequent realisation Vision 2030.

“I am acutely aware of the important strides that have been made in reforming our education sector but we should continue to ask ourselves whether in its current form, our tertiary education is relevant in the context of rapid social and economic changes in our country,” he said. “We should also continue to probe whether the research work conducted in our tertiary institutions is assisting in addressing the challenges confronting our country in the various spheres of the economy. “I ask these questions because the real challenges for sustainable development in the country are the promotion of economic and industrial development, the eradication of poverty, climate change, water, energy and the optimum use of our natural resources,” said Dr Gumbo.

He challenged tertiary institutions to embrace communities and work together to solve teething developmental challenges that confront communities.

“Government continues to step up efforts in establishing research infrastructure such as the GSU Engineering Laboratory for teaching, mining research and consultancy services,” said the minister. “It’s projected that the laboratory will result in an improved innovation ecosystem through enhanced mining research and adoption of ICTs to support minerals beneficiation,” said Dr Gumbo.

“The expectation of Government is that the laboratory will assist in finding innovative ways of contributing to these efforts in order to curb the exportation of unprocessed mineral ores for purely selfish purposes.

”Matabeleland South Provincial Affairs and Devolution Minister, Abednico Ncube, said universities should go beyond traditional roles of teaching, research and community service to embrace innovation and industrialisation.

“Today we’re witnessing one of the important flagship projects in the history of Gwanda State University’s early formative stage as it translates the Education 5.0 Strategy in line with our Vision 2030,” he said. “We need job-creator graduates who will purposely interact with communities to identify economic opportunities to develop University link start-up model of companies that will feed into the nation’s Gross Domestic Product.” Minister Ncube expressed desire for a strong link between Gwanda State University, the business community, local authorities as well as all stakeholders who can benefit from the researches carried out by the institution be developed and maintained.

The university’s Vice Chancellor, Professor Doreen Moyo, said the complex was key in addressing the critical skills gap in the country and development of students and communities with critical skills and competencies for future industry needs.

“This set up is therefore imperative in the realisation of a knowledge-based economy, which calls for excellence, relevance and agility in our education system,” she said. “Matabeleland South province is endowed with mineral wealth and there is need to provide appropriate solutions in exploration, extraction, beneficiation and value addition, which leads to sustained economic affluence.”

As such, Prof Moyo said the complex will enable technology transfer, adaptation, incubation and commercialisation leading to a proliferation of start-ups and spin-off companies within the university structure.

The Engineering Laboratory and Innovation Complex has six laboratories, three staff offices, a computer room, a warehouse, storeroom, boardroom and ablution facilities.

Mr Khumbulani Nkomo, a mine owner in Insiza District said the laboratory would go a long way in enhancing their operations.

“I was in Harare last week where I had taken my samples to a laboratory there due to the unavailability of such a facility here,” he said. “Travelling is expensive and time consuming and having this laboratory here will be cost effective. As miners, we’re willing to partner the project and see it to completion because it will go a long way in enhancing our operations.”

Gwanda State University was established through an Act of Parliament Chapter 25:30. The University inherited former Epoch Mine infrastructure that needed to be upgraded to university standards.

At its inception, the University was incubated by the National University of Science and Technology and offered engineering and agriculture programmes with a heavy reliance on Nust laboratories for student practicals.

Due to the nature of the science programmes that are on offer and the high cost of shuttling students between Epoch Mine Campus and Nust as well as the Zimbabwe School of Mines, construction of requisite laboratory infrastructure that has state-of-the-art equipment became imperative.

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