Kagem Mining will provide US$345,000 worth of scholarships for students to study mining at the University of Zambia and Copperbelt University under an agreement signed this week.
Present at the signing of the landmark MOU in Lusaka were Zambia’s Minister of Education, Hon. Michael Kaingu; Minister of Mines, Energy and Water Development, Hon. Christopher Yaluma; and Minister of Labour and Social Security, Hon. Fackson Shamenda.
Kagem Director, Dr Sixtus Mulenga said: “Kagem has a framework for sustainability that drives long-term development in partnership with the government and society as a whole. These scholarships demonstrate that commitment and show the company is here for the long-term.”
Lusaka Times reports that under the terms of the scholarship, 12 students – six from each university – from the geological and mining engineering departments in their second and third years of study will be selected to receive a comprehensive scholarship for the rest of the duration of their course over a period of eight years. The scholarships will cover the full cost of education including tuition fees, boarding fees, up-keep, clothing and book allowances as well as a medical scheme with Kagem.
Students under the scheme will be accorded internship opportunities at Kagem Mining during their recess as well as an apprenticeship upon completion and further training in areas deemed necessary by the company. They will be indentured to work for Kagem for a period corresponding with the sponsorship period.
Kagem signed this agreement as part of their effort to help the government develop more coloured gemstone industry-oriented graduates that are up-to-date with current technical and theoretical knowledge and mining requirements of the day.
“Education is a partnership. This initiative supplements government efforts developing the human resources to develop this country,” Mr Kaingu said.
Training for a career in the mining sector is very expensive in Zambia and the scholarships will serve to alleviate the burden of parents whose children are interested in the sector. The scholarships themselves will cost $345,000 over the eight years for a total of 12 select students.
Kagem’s decision to roll out these scholarships comes at a time when Zambia is in dire need of development in order to transform the sector through effective solutions to current challenges bedeviling it and new ideas to advance it to world standards.
Speaking on behalf of both universities, UNZA Acting Deputy Vice Chancellor Dr Mick Mwala said: “This partnership will not only create graduates, but also scientists, leaders and innovators. The scholarship will take into consideration the vulnerable; there are excellent students who may not have the means. We thank Kagem to this end.”
Seventy-five percent of Kagem, the world’s largest emerald mine, is owned by London-listed Gemfields plc in a model partnership with the Zambian government, which owns the remaining twenty-five percent.
Since 2008 when Gemfields took over operation of the mine, it has invested US$60 million which has transformed Kagem such that it has become one of Zambia’s larger taxpaying mining Companies, contributing more than K2.436 billion (US$324.9 million) to Zambia’s direct foreign earnings in the past few years.
Kagem has generated more than US$40 million in corporate taxes payable to the government in the last three years, along with US$12 million in mineral royalties and US$4 million as the government’s share of dividends.
Kagem has also been supporting several education projects at primary levels in Lufwanyama district where it operates. Recently, the company built a new secondary school next to Chapula Primary School. This will see many more students advancing to secondary levels, something that had proved difficult in the past because of the challenge of distance as the nearest secondary school for some is as far as 20 kilometres away.
It is indeed commendable how Kagem, through its shared value model, seeks to share the benefits of Zambia’s emerald success by empowering and enabling communities with skills and infrastructure that will result in their self-sustenance.
”We are extremely proud of the successes we have been able to achieve within the Zambian mining sector over the past few years, and the fact that we have been able to turn a once bankrupt company into a true global champion. We look forward to continuing these successes way into the future and a well-educated and highly motivated workforce forms a core component of our ability to do just that,” added Dr Mulenga.