- window still open to investor discussions
The management of the University of Ghana (UG) has indicated that plans to implore private investors to provide accommodation facilities have not yielded any results yet due to the proposed offers from developers not being good enough.
According to management, while investors may be interested in breaking even within the shortest possible time, the university lands are premium and limited; hence, must be highly valued and maximised to the interest of the institution.
Pro-Vice-Chancellor in charge of Academic and Student Affairs, UG, Prof. Gordon Akanzuwine Awandare, told the B&FT that student enrollment has increased exponentially over the past 10 years; unfortunately, infrastructure development did not respond to the population growth leading to the current situation that new management is very committed to solving.
He stressed further that with the limited nature of the university’s capital resources for such developmental projects, bringing on board private investors were considered strategic; but unfortunately, offers received have not been good enough. However, engagements are still ongoing to find good deals that will be favourable to the school very soon.
“Over the past three years, the university hasn’t initiated any major development project and we need to change that, so we are making every effort to bring in private developers to construct new hostels to add more capacity.
“The challenge we are having with private investors is about trying to agree on terms that are acceptable to both sides. We have investors that are coming in, and they want to use the university’s land for hostels; but on the other hand, university lands are premium, so it is not easy to just give it out because it is also finite, i.e., very limited. So, we are still in discussions trying to find a good balance between the investors who are looking for profit and the university that want to make the best use of its lands,” he said.
In addition to that, he stated that student numbers have increased by about six to seven folds over the past 10 years; hence; the need to keep pace with numbers in terms of providing beds cannot be overemphasised. So, the vice-chancellor is very focused on that agenda, and discussions are ongoing every day to solve it.
However, he was optimistic that within two years, management will be able to put in place significant hostel projects to gradually ease the pressure and address the perennial accommodation crisis.
The Pro-VC made these explanations to the B&FT on the sideline of the launch of a conference centre and TV room for Dr. Hilla Limann Hall by the current Junior Common Room (JCR) administration.
JCR President, Albert Nii Noi Okwei, stated that the newly commissioned 100-seater capacity conference room was named after Dr. Kwadwo Owusu Ayeh, a Senior Lecturer and Head of the Biology Department, for his tremendous support of the hall.
“When I was sworn into office, this place was just a common room and the TV room, and because it was in a very bad state, students did not want to use it; so under my leadership we decided to renovate the facility, put in place modern equipment and upgrade it to meet students’ needs and expectation.
“Limann Hall houses about 1,700 students at all levels, and the welfare of students here is very paramount amid the challenges of accommodation all over, and we think they deserve these befitting recreational facilities,” he said.