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The Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development of Zimbabwe: The African Subsoil Consortium will help to responsibly develop the continent’s natural resources

Министр высшего образования Зимбабве
© Форпост Северо-Запад / Павел Долганов

The culmination of the visit of the delegation of St. Petersburg Mining University to the Republic of Zimbabwe was a working meeting with Amon Murwira, Head of the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development of this country.

Mr. Murwira is a scientist widely known both on the African continent and beyond. He is a member of the Zimbabwe Academy of Sciences, the African Association for Remote Sensing of the Environment (AARSE), the Geographical Association of Zimbabwe. He also continues his teaching work at the Department of Geography and Environmental Sciences, University of Zimbabwe. During his academic career, he has published more than 50 research papers that are actively cited by experts, researchers and students. The most cited works of the author are at the intersection of ecology and geology.

The meeting touched upon the implementation of possible joint projects in the field of subsoil use. Amon Murwira kindly agreed to answer the questions of Forpost.

© Форпост Северо-Запад / Павел Долганов

– Professor Murwira, you were the initiator of inviting a group of Russian geologists and mining engineers to Zimbabwe. This happened during your visit to the Second Russia-Africa Forum when leaders of the hot continent came to St. Petersburg at the invitation of Vladimir Putin. At the same time, you took part in the organisation of the Consortium ‘Subsoil of Africa’ at Saint Petersburg Mining University, the concept of its existence directly derived from the Summit. The question of what type of cooperation instrument it is and how it should operate is the logical one.

– The ‘Subsoil of Africa’ Consortium emerged from the Africa-Russia Summit. It represents a novel instrument for fostering collaboration and knowledge exchange across the African mineral sciences and mining sector. This Consortium envisions a multi-stakeholder platform, bringing together universities, research institutions, and mining companies across the continent.

Since then, the Consortium has developed its constitution, which guides its operations and functional direction. This newly created entity offers mutual benefits to both the Russian Federation and African nations. By promoting knowledge sharing and capacity building, we know the Consortium is building a solid foundation for a win-win collaboration.

© Форпост Северо-Запад / Павел Долганов

– What roles do St. Petersburg Mining University (SPbMU) and the International Competence Centre for Mining-Engineering Education under the auspices of UNESCO (UNESCO Centre), play in the 'Subsoil of Africa' Consortium?

– The expectation is that these two institutions shall provide mutual benefits for the advancement of the mining industry.

– Why was there a suggestion that the Competence Centre for Mining Education under the auspices of UNESCO and St. Petersburg Mining University should partner in the development of the Pan African Minerals University of Science & Technology (PAMUST)?

– The African Union's selection of Zimbabwe as the host nation for the Pan African Minerals University (PAMUST) presents a strategic alignment with the Consortium's goals. With PAMUST's establishment, Zimbabwe becomes the logical location for the headquarters of the "Subsoil of Africa" Consortium. This positioning strengthens PAMUST's role as the African Union's hub for mineral resources education. The Consortium, headquartered at PAMUST, leverages the university's resources and expertise to foster collaboration and knowledge exchange across the African mining sector.

In early April, a representative delegation from St. Petersburg Mining University paid a working visit to the Republic of Zimbabwe. Forpost has already written about the part of the trip that was devoted to familiarizing with the mining industry of this southern African country. Today - a detailed story about its higher education system.

As a government, we see the partnership between PAMUST, the "Subsoil of Africa" Consortium, and co-location as a powerful driver which will position PAMUST and Zimbabwe as leaders in African mining education and responsible resource development.

© Форпост Северо-Запад / Павел Долганов

– Why should Russia increase the quotas for mining education in Russia for the Consortium of Mining Universities?

– Zimbabwe's increased mining education scholarships are highly beneficial. More Zimbabwean students studying mining in Russia shall:

  1. Address Skills Gap: More qualified professionals will be available across Africa to sustainably manage the continent's mineral resources.
  2. Benefit PAMUST: The African Union's mining education hub shall have a large pool of qualified faculty and industry professionals upon graduation.
  3. Strengthen the Consortium: A larger pool of Zimbabwean mining experts shall contribute to research, knowledge sharing, and setting standards for sustainable mining practices.
Зимбабве в Горном
© Форпост Северо-Запад / Павел Долганов

– The reform of higher education is underway in Russia. Its basic tenets were discussed at meetings between the delegation and university rectors in Zimbabwe. The Ministry is also closely following these changes. To what extent are they in demand in your country? Is it possible to implement the critical elements of modernisation of the system of higher technical education with St. Petersburg Mining University based on ‘pilot’ universities in Zimbabwe, such as Midlands State University?

– Zimbabwe is already undergoing its own reforms in the education sector including the mining sector. Critical elements coinciding with our own agenda will be useful to us.

MSU's position as a leading mining university in Zimbabwe would be the perfect pilot institution to implement key elements of Russia's modernisation of mining education. However, these must align with Zimbabwe’s national development goals, promoting sustainable mining practices and addressing our social and economic needs.

We're confident that collaborating with SPbMU on this pilot program will be of mutual benefit. It presents a unique opportunity to learn from each other's experiences and advance mining education in Russia and Zimbabwe.

© Форпост Северо-Запад / Павел Долганов
© Форпост Северо-Запад / Павел Долганов

– What are some ways to infuse patriotism into African students during education to prevent brain drain?

– Zimbabwe's education system, rejuvenated by the transformative power of Heritage Based Education 5.0, already produces graduates who embody the essence of patriotism and national commitment. This cutting-edge framework prioritises not just knowledge but national identity. Cultural heritage and civic education are now seamlessly woven into the curriculum, fostering a deep understanding and appreciation for Zimbabwe's rich tapestry.

This initiative aims to instil a sense of pride, unity, and belonging among students, encouraging them to stay in Zimbabwe and contribute to the nation's development. We already see the intended impacts of the adopted Heritage Based Education 5.0 among our graduates.

© Форпост Северо-Запад / Павел Долганов

– How does Russia benefit from supporting the Subsoil of Africa Mining Consortium through UNESCO and St. Petersburg Mining University?

–This is a joint programme and is therefore, meant to produce special purpose vehicles in the Russian Federation and Zimbabwe. We therefore, forsee mutual benefits.

– The most significant question is why the country has yet to economically eliminate the concession scheme for using natural resources after 40 years of independence. What laws and government decisions await Zimbabwe in this area?

– Zimbabwe is undertaking reforms in the Mines and Minerals Act. These reforms are meant to enhance Zimbabwe’s sovereignity over its resources.

Meanwhile, the government has implemented various concession models to achieve several objectives: attracting foreign investment, stimulating economic growth, and ensuring the sustainable use of these valuable resources. Russia can study these and see which ones best fit particular intentions.

In early April, a representative delegation from St. Petersburg Mining University paid a working visit to the Republic of Zimbabwe. The main objectives of the visit were to get acquainted with the higher education system of this South African state, the state of affairs in the field of geological exploration and subsoil use, and to identify practical ways of cooperation in the format of a roadmap for the medium term.