The three firms that had shown interest to provide student accommodation in public universities to ease accommodation challenges will early March start negotiations with government, the Public Private Partnership Commission (PPPC) executive director Jimmy Lipunga has said.
The three firms, Old Mutual Investment Group, Nico Asset Managers and South African firm, M & M Consortium, were the only firms out of 17 shortlisted firms that expressed interest to provide student accommodation facilities in public universities.
The three had submitted both technical and financial proposals by closing date and time of proposal submission after which the PPPC constituted a team to evaluate the proposals that were submitted.
Lipunga speaking in an interview said the commission, based on the negotiations, will recommend a preferred bidder for the project which is earmarked to commence this year.
“All is set for negotiations with these bidders. We have had meetings with the Ministry of Education [Science and Technology] in recent weeks to coordinate and plan dates for this. But prior to the negotiations, there are going to be meetings with stakeholders involved in this project just to agree on approach and area of emphasis,” he said.
Lipunga said the commission will continue to update the public regarding the progress in the search of a private partner for provision of student accommodation for the public universities.
Through the project, government will increase admissions to public universities against the backdrop of a significant number of eligible students failing to get into tertiary education due to shortage of bed space.
The project also comes amid challenges of accommodation in public universities, most notably University of Malawi and Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (Luanar).
For instance, records show that about 450 students from Luanar were last year transferred to the nearby Mitundu Secondary School after the University Council ordered demolition of substandard private hotels that housed some students.
The college is reported to have about 3 000 students, but functional hostels at the institution can only accommodate about 700 students.
Speaking earlier with The Nation, an official from the Ministry of Education was upbeat that this initiative would fill accommodation gaps in the country’s public universities after government increased student intake over three years ago on arrangement that some live off campus.