HARARE – Zimbabwe plans to set up a Pan-African Minerals University of Science and Technology (Pamust) in 2014 aimed at addressing issues of value addition for Africa’s mineral resources in line with the continent’s mining vision.
Mines minister Walter Chidhakwa said the establishment of such a university was provided for in the government’s new economic blueprint ? the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation.
“Pamust is being established to offer the highest specialised instruction, and to provide the fullest equipment for the most advanced training and research in all aspects of exploitation of African mineral resources for the maximum benefit of Africa,” he said.
Although the exact location of the university is yet to be established, the college is expected to offer post-graduate degrees in geosciences for mineral exploration, mining engineering, extractive metallurgy, material science and engineering as well as mineral business studies.
The university is being established as part of a network of African Institutes of Science and Technology (AISTs) being centres of excellence under the auspices of the Nelson Mandela Institute.
Three other colleges that have already been established include one in Nigeria that focuses on energy and petrochemical engineering while the one on Tanzania deals with life sciences and bio-engineering.
The college in Burkina Faso provides training in water engineering and environment.
These institutions are tasked to train and develop the next generation of African scientists, engineers and technologist who will impact on the continent’s development through the application of science, engineering and technology.
Chidhakwa said the university will also promote research in a cost effective manner, through pooling of resources.
“This continental approach will increase benefits for all African countries, especially for a large number of smaller countries that lack the human and financial resources to sustain excellence in institutions of higher learning,” he said.
The establishment of Pamust comes after an independent consulting firm SRK Consulting recently indicated that Africa’s mining sector is increasingly relying on third-party consultants, owing to the lack of experienced mechanical and electrical engineers.
Steve Owen, the principal consultant at SRK Consulting noted that the skills shortage was a result of aging, experienced artisans who are reaching retirement age.
Industry experts contend that it is becoming increasingly obvious that skills are a country’s best economic foundation and that Africa’s economies are fertile fields of opportunity for electrical and mechanical skills.