• Friday, June 21, 2024
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How Africa Plus Partners’ alliance with TETFUND is delivering a 1,600-bed hostel for AKSU students

How Africa Plus Partners’ alliance with TETFUND is delivering a 1,600-bed hostel for AKSU students

A public-private partnership (PPP) between Africa Plus Partners Nigeria Limited, a Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) licensed specialist asset management firm focused on infrastructure fund management, and the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND) is set to deliver a 1,600-capacity student hostel at Akwa Ibom State University (AKSU).

Akwa Ibom State University is the first state-owned institution of higher learning to benefit from the partnership in which TETFUND has pledged N1 billion as part of its contributions in support of the project at the university’s permanent site in Ikot Akpaden, Mkpat Enin local government area of the state.

Africa Plus Partners Nigeria Limited currently manages Nigeria’s first two equity-based, naira-denominated infrastructure funds, the Africa Infra Plus Fund (AIPF I) and Africa Infra Plus Fund II (AIPF II), and through the Triple-A Consortium, was appointed as one of four independent asset managers for the Infrastructure Corporation of Nigeria Limited (InfraCorp), an infrastructure development vehicle set up by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), to catalyse and accelerate investment into Nigeria’s infrastructure sector via the creation of a N15 trillion ($37 billion) infrastructure fund.

It maintains that with its “rich and robust deal pipeline, it strives to harness resources at its disposal to unlock tremendous opportunities and leverage its structuring capabilities to maximise profitability, enhance fund investors’ wealth and value of its managed funds, and ensure sustainable social development and preservation of the environment.”

For the Family Homes Funds, a housing development initiative with the priority of providing affordable homes for Nigerians is being promoted by the Federal Government as part of the social intervention programme, saying over 84,000 direct and indirect jobs have been created and stimulating the local economy in the process.

The hostel project is significant in many ways in that since the establishment of Akwa Ibom State University in 2003, students have never lived on campus due to the non-availability of hostels. For many years, the university has operated without residential accommodations. But with the ground-breaking of the hostel project, it will only be a matter of time before the old narrative is changed.

The lack of accommodation on campus at the state-owned tertiary institution was re-echoed by Nse Essien, the vice chancellor of the university, during the ground-breaking of the project, when he said the absence of suitable accommodation has been quite challenging for the students and posed security threats to their wellbeing.

“We have been faced with situations where candidates prefer other institutions that provide accommodation as their first choice, thereby denying us the opportunity to admit students to fill our carrying capacity. This challenge has also given competing institutions an edge over us, irrespective of the fact that our academic standards and facilities are some of the best in Nigeria,’’ Essien said.

According to him, the hostel will improve the student experience by providing a safe and conducive environment for learning, living, and personal growth. “This new facility will not only address the critical need for student accommodation but will foster a stronger sense of community and belonging among the students and also create opportunities that would be beneficial to the host community.”

“This hostel will be a home away from home, offering modern facilities, comfortable living spaces, and opportunities for social interaction and collaboration. It will also be a centre of learning and establishing friendships that will go beyond the walls of the university,’’ he said.

Being the first and only state university in the South-South region of the country to benefit from the construction of 12 hostels in tertiary institutions, consisting of six universities, three polytechnics, and three colleges of education, the joy of the vice chancellor knew no bounds as he expressed gratitude to President Bola Ahmed Tinubu “for his visionary and student-friendly decision to approve the construction of the hostels.”

The university has a population of over 10,000 students studying courses in engineering, agriculture, arts, humanities, education, and social sciences.

For Adeniran Ajakaiye, managing director of Africa Plus Partners and chief investment officer of AIPF I and AIPF II, the hostel project will help students live in decent accommodations. “We have noticed a gap in student accommodation facilities of over 90 percent and partnered with TETFUND to construct 24 hostels across the country. We are a fund management firm set up to build infrastructure in Nigeria,’’ he said.

“The proposed development of affordable student accommodation across the nation directly targets and addresses a fundamental and pressing accommodation gap in the tertiary education system in Nigeria.

“Considering the infrastructure deficit plaguing the education sector, we at Africa Plus Partners have carefully curated an accommodation scheme to cater to over 38,000 tertiary students.

“The initiative envisages the construction and operation of various units of 1600-bed space student hostels in targeted tertiary institutions across the six geopolitical zones of the country of which Akwa Ibom State University has been strategically chosen to be part.

“The proposed project cost is proposed to be funded by a collaborative effort of both TETFUND and Africa Plus Partners.

“TETFUND shall provide counterpart funding of 25 percent of the project cost under a special intervention framework to Akwa Ibom State University, while Africa Plus Partners shall provide the counterpart funding of 75 percent of the project cost.’’

The project consists of 1,600-capacity bed spaces, 32 reading rooms, common rooms, a cafeteria, restaurants, and a laundromat.

Other facilities include 200+ car parking spaces, grocery shops, salons, and landscaping, while the ensuite room orientation will have comfortable bed spaces, a study table and chairs, as well as ventilation fans and personal wardrobes.

There will be a shower and bath, an ensuite bathroom, 24/7 site support, access control, 24-hour security, and surveillance.

For TETFUND, which was established in 1993 as an intervention agency to provide supplementary support to all levels of public tertiary institutions “with the main objective of using funding alongside project management for the rehabilitation, restoration, and consolidation of education in Nigeria, Sonny Echono, its executive secretary, noted that President Tinubu has prioritised education with students at the centre of the education policy of the Federal Government. He added that the country was unlocking great potential in the education sector as his agency was intervening in 36 states of the federation.

He lauded the founding fathers of Akwa Ibom State for attracting and establishing institutions of higher learning in the state, saying that apart from the state university, there is also the Federal University of Technology at Ikot Abasi and a new College of Education about to commence classes. According to him, it was a result of patriotism by prominent sons and daughters of the state.

With TETFUND providing N1 billion for the project, he called on institutions of higher learning in the country to embrace public-private partnerships “to leverage additional funding into their institutions,’’ adding that those without any partnership would attract N500 million.

The ceremony attracted key stakeholders in the education sector, including Governor Umo Eno, who was represented by Idongesit Etiebet, the state commissioner for education. Eno lauded all the partners for coming together to provide suitable accommodation to students at the state university.

Since the project was about funds and financing, Wale Edun, the minister of finance and coordinating minister for the economy, was represented by Udo Ekanem, the permanent secretary in his ministry.

The ground-breaking event also attracted students, members of the university community, and the management team of the institution.

There is no doubt that when delivered, the hostel will significantly bridge the accommodation infrastructure gap at Akwa Ibom State University while ensuring that the Federal Government’s social impact goals of providing affordable accommodation and promoting good health and wellbeing have been achieved through the strategic partnership between TETFUND, Africa Plus Partners, and other intervention agencies.