By Innocent Anguyo and Marion Alina
Chinese and Korean firms are among 12 firms that have expressed interest in developing Makerere University’s idle lands, as Uganda’s oldest public university seeks to diversify its revenue basket.
The University however declined to reveal the names of the firms, on grounds that it was against procurement guidelines at the institutions.
Earlier this year, Makerere issued an advert in the media, calling on firms, both local and foreign to develop the university’s land, through Public-Private-Partnerships (PPPs).
The university land being fronted for development are found in different parts of the Makerere estate- Main Campus, Katalemwa, Makindye, Bwaise, Kabanyolo and Kololo.
Owing to the huge size of the project, it has been named the ‘Makerere University Infrastructure Development Marshall Plan’.
However, Makerere University reserves the right to determine what is built on its land; meaning, the firms will play to the tune of the university.
Facilities to be built at university through PPP include a Teaching Hospital, Students’ Resource Centre, Student Hostels at the Main Campus and Kabanyolo, a University Hotel and Convention Centre, a Centre for Innovation and Technology Incubation.
The others are a perimeter fence inclusive of commercial buildings, a transport hub, middle income apartments, luxury apartments, a Centre for Gender and Development Studies, and a facility at School of Law.
Construction is set to kickoff at the end of this year. According to Dr. Florence Nakayiwa, the Director of Planning and Development Department (PDD) at Makerere University, the 12 firms that have expressed interest to develop the institution’s land comprise building companies and transaction advisors.
“We are glad that the market is receptive to this call. We have now asked them to undertake feasibility studies of the different projects and report back by September 2014. We are optimistic that ground works will begin as soon as we have all the appropriate processes in place,” said Nakayiwa.
Prof. John Ddumba-Ssentamu, the Makerere University Vice Chancellor said the project offered the university the ultimate means to expand its constrained resource base.
“One of our major resources is land and we shall fully utilize it for all the projects. We would like to start with the perimeter wall, Students’ Centre, and the Hotel as a priority but this will also depend on the interests of the investors, “reiterated the university chief executive officer.
“When completed, these projects will save money. We spend a lot on conferences and residences for external examiners, which money can be saved if we have facilities for such activities. About 1billion shillings goes to external examiners annually and another 600m to conferences. We intend to have shopping malls around the perimeter wall to generate more income too.”
To show how serious it is about this project, the university has even set a committee, headed by the Deputy Vice Chancellor in charge of Finance and Administration, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe, to see it through.
Other members on the Committee include the University Secretary, David Kahundha Muhwezi; Dr. Nakayiwa; Assoc. Prof. Anthony Keraali of the College of Engineering; the Director Estates and Works Department, Eng. Fred Nuwagaba and a Legal Advisor.
Overall guidance for the project will be given by the University Council, Makerere’s supreme governing organ.
“These developments will protect the land and avail more lecture space for students,” explained Nawangwe.
This project is part a component of the Makerere University Master Plan, released in January, this year.
This project comes at a time when Makerere is struggling to meets its financial needs. The university is yet to pay staff allowance arrears for June and July, amounting to sh7.4b.
Since the institution’s primary sources of funding are government subvention and fees, Makerere has raised tuition fees by 10% for incoming freshmen.