Zambia and Kuwait have signed a K78 million (US$14 million) agreement for the establishment of an ultra-modern teacher training college in North-Western Province.
The agreement was signed on Monday in Lusaka between the governments of Zambia and the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development.
Acting Secretary to the Treasury Felix Nkulukusa signed on behalf of government while the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development Deputy Director General Hamad Al-Omar signed on behalf of his country.
The loan agreement is for a period of 24 years, preceded by a four year grace period.
Speaking at the signing ceremony, Mr. Nkulukusa said the aim of the project was to improve quality and increase access to teacher training education through the establishment of a teachers’ training college in science, mathematics and technology.
Mr. Nkulukusa said the project, which is expected to start during the first half of 2014 and is scheduled for completion by the end of 2015, will contribute to meeting the country’s demand for science, mathematics and technology teachers.
He said the provision of the loan by the Kuwaiti Fund will also enable the Zambian government to address the country’s human capital needs for economic development and poverty reduction by enhancing the acquisition of necessary graduate skills in critical subjects such as science, mathematics and technology.
“Zambians should rest assured that the acquisition of this loan does not in any way expose the country to unsustainable debt burden. As the treasury, we are mindful that borrowing within national and international limits is necessary to ensure that Zambia’s debt burden remains manageable. In this case, we have more to gain as a country in acquiring this loan,” he said.
Mr. Nkulukusa said the implementation of the project would reinforce the execution of government’s nationwide economic programme which is aimed at creating one million jobs within five years from 2011 to 2015.
He said the creation of these jobs was anchored on skills development and entrepreneurship training especially in growth-enhancing sectors such as agriculture, mining, tourism and energy.
And speaking at the same function, Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development Deputy Director General Hamad Al-Omar disclosed that the project involves the construction of buildings and infrastructure and the supply of furniture, educational equipment and tools.
Mr. Al-Omar said the total cost of the project, including contingencies for quantities and prices is estimated at K102. 7 million, which is equivalent to US$ 20 million.
He said the Kuwait Fund will cover about 70 percent of the total costs of the project while the remaining costs will be covered by the government of Zambia.
He reiterated that his government was ready to finance and support the Zambian government’s development projects.
The government, through the Ministry of Education, Science, Vocational Training and Early Education plans to build three teachers’ training colleges for mathematics, science, technology and applied arts in Eastern, Western and North-western Provinces in order to address technological skills challenges which Zambia is currently facing.
The current agreement brings the number of agreements signed with the Kuwait Fund to four, the first three agreements totaling US$29.5 million.
The three agreements were targeted at supporting infrastructure projects in the transport sector.