NRFA Signs MOU with Leading Universities

… Pioneering a New Era in Road Infrastructure Development

By Francis Maingaila

Lusaka, Zambia24 – (7-06-2024) – In a landmark move, the National Road Fund Agency (NRFA) of Zambia has sealed Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) with prominent academic and research institutions, including the University of Zambia, Copperbelt University, Mulungushi University, and ZIPAR. This historic event marks the inception of a transformative journey aimed at revolutionizing road construction methodologies while simultaneously curtailing costs.

Daniel Mtonga, the Chief Executive Officer of NRFA, stated during the signing ceremony that the key focus areas of the collaborative research effort include exploring alternative low-cost construction materials, advancing road construction technology, innovating highway engineering design, efficiently managing distressed physical spaces, and conducting comprehensive socio-economic impact assessments of road projects.

Mtonga emphasized the significance of this collaboration, noting its potential to deliver practical solutions and cutting-edge technologies tailored to the unique challenges of road infrastructure development in Zambia.

He stated that the MOUs highlight a joint commitment to leveraging research expertise and pooling resources to address the complexities of policy formulation and financial management in this crucial sector.

Mtonga envisions a future where collaborative efforts produce groundbreaking research results and promote the adoption of innovative road construction techniques and asset management practices.

He noted that, beyond its immediate impacts, this partnership sets a standard for future collaborations, illustrating the effectiveness of unified action and shared vision in tackling complex national issues.

Mtonga expressed gratitude to the leadership teams of the participating institutions for their forward-thinking dedication to fostering academic excellence and providing evidence-based policy recommendations.

He urged all stakeholders to enthusiastically and diligently seize this promising opportunity. With collective effort and unwavering determination, Mtonga said the shared goals for advancing road infrastructure development in Zambia will be achieved.

Zali Chikuba, Acting Director at ZIPAR, underscored key points essential for steering the nation’s transportation agenda towards sustainable development.

Chikuba stated that individuals and teams organizing events and drafting Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) should adopt a collaborative mindset, highlighting the importance of synergy among practitioners, researchers, and academic institutions.

According to Chikuba, such collaboration is crucial for improving the country’s road infrastructure, which in turn enhances access to job opportunities, essential services, and regional markets—key elements for social and economic development.

“Central to this endeavor is the media’s role in broadcasting outcomes and ensuring accountability,” he suggested.

By disseminating information on collaborative policy analysis, research, training, and capacity building activities, the media becomes an indispensable ally in fostering transparency and public engagement,” Chikuba added.

He was of the view that the objectives outlined in the MOUs aim to facilitate not only collaborative endeavors but also research-informed decision-making.

Research evidence plays a crucial role in shaping policies related to road financing, development, and safety.

“Leveraging road infrastructure assets for revenue generation emerges as a sustainable financing strategy, aligning with national policy objectives while minimizing reliance on external borrowing,” stated Chikuba.

However, Chikuba observed that progress is not without its hurdles. Challenges such as underdeveloped economic routes and road safety concerns persist, necessitating efficient resource management and comprehensive service delivery.

He said addressing these challenges requires a holistic approach, encompassing not only infrastructure development but also safety measures and user integration, ensuring the inclusivity of all road users.

Trywell Kalusopa, Deputy Vice Chancellor at the University of Zambia, said in the pursuit of enhancing road infrastructure and tackling Zambia’s debt challenges, the University of Zambia and the National Road Fund Agency (NRFA) have cemented their commitment to ongoing consultations and collaboration through a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).

Kalusopa underscored the importance of continuous dialogue among stakeholders in the road sector.

He said the MOU signifies a significant step towards evidence-based policy advice, aiming to support sustainable financing mechanisms for road infrastructure.

Harnessing innovations such as GPS, smart technology, and artificial intelligence can revolutionize infrastructure development efforts.

Furthermore, Kalusopa said the collaboration between the university and the NRFA is not merely symbolic but aims to yield tangible results through multidisciplinary research.

This partnership is geared towards building institutional capacity, enhancing knowledge and skills, and delivering practical research outputs that address societal needs and national development goals.

Moreover, Kalusopa said the strategic plan laid out by Zambia emphasizes the critical role of road infrastructure and safety in achieving structural transformation and sustainable development.

Increased investment in infrastructure is seen as pivotal in addressing challenges like road traffic accidents and fostering economic growth. The partnership between industry and academia signifies a shift towards a more holistic approach to infrastructure development, where research and innovation play a central role.

By fostering closer ties in research, innovation, and infrastructure development, both institutions express their gratitude for the collaboration and look forward to achieving sustainable road infrastructure that meets the needs of Zambia’s growing economy and society. This collaborative approachThere was a problem generating a response. Please try again later.

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