Johannesburg: Government will require the support of investors to realise the speedy implementation of South Africa’s proposed mega infrastructure programme, says President Jacob Zuma.
He told the Presidential Infrastructure Investment Conference in Johannesburg on Friday that infrastructure development was a catalyst to sustainable economic development, job creation and alleviating poverty.
A memorandum of understanding to take the infrastructure roll-out plan forward was signed between different ministers and potential investors at the gathering.
The plan, announced by government in February, is expected to guide the construction of new infrastructure while speeding up current projects that support economic growth.
It proposes 18 Strategic Integrated Projects (SIPs), covering more than 150 specific infrastructure interventions. These cover all the key platforms in rail, road and ports, dams, irrigation systems, sanitation as well as energy.
Some of these projects are already commissioned. They include the Dube Trade Port in Durban as well as the expansion of the Port of Ngqura in the Eastern Cape.
Zuma explained on Friday that the summit was about the crucial role of partnerships on infrastructure development in the present and future South Africa.
He urged investors to take advantage and support the plan estimated at over R850 billion. The costs of the 18 strategic projects are estimated at about R4 trillion over the next 15 years.
Earlier, Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe said government, with the support of the private sector, wanted to make the plans a reality.
“We need their support for the projects included in the plan to be a success. The projects cannot be financed solely through domestic savings… we need the support of other development institutions, banks as well as other partners,” Motlanthe said.
With the country’s New Growth Path strategy setting a target of five million new jobs by 2020, government is adamant that infrastructure development remains a crucial jobs driver.
Zuma said the parties had been identified to be part of the conference because they were “crucial stakeholders with whom government can forge a partnership to enhance the implementation of the country’s long term infrastructure plan”.
The conference will allow stakeholders to engage government on the role of each sector of the economy in getting some of the projects off the ground.
Zuma said to reverse the legacy of the past, government had embarked on a programme to build schools, hospitals, clinics, nursing colleges, dams and power station.
Government had paid special attention to the lessons learnt from building infrastructure during the period leading up to the 2010 FIFA Soccer World Cup. That experience should be used to build new infrastructure crucial to the economic development of the country.
“We all have proud recollections of how we managed to build stadiums, roads and refurbished airports ahead of the World Cup. We must use that project management experience to change our country’s landscape and improve living conditions while growing the economy.”
This would include prioritising skills development, public and private investment as well as creating the right environment for economic growth.
The past few weeks has seen a series of wildcat strikes in the mining industry, which hampered production and led to threats to investor confidence.
But Zuma on Friday told the country’s business leaders that the strikes in the mining sector have demonstrated just how far “we still have to go” towards ensuring full compliance with the Mining Chatter.
He said government and social partners had agreed on measures this week to help restore normalcy in the economy, particularly in mining, while there will be plans to deal with social inequalities and income disparities.
The measures include: accelerated infrastructure roll-out to create jobs; dealing with the living conditions in mining communities; measures to address challenges faced by workers and companies affected by the global economic slowdown; addressing the growth of reckless lending; and creating jobs through public sector work programmes.