South Africa’s large-scale public infrastructure programme, currently comprising 18 strategic integrated project (Sip) clusters, comprising 645 individual projects for delivery over a 20-year period, offered “countless opportunities” for partnerships, Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe said on Friday.
Addressing the Presidential Infrastructure Investment Conference, in Johannesburg, Motlanthe called for a broad-based public-private “coalition” to support the infrastructure strategy, which was being pursued partly to address current backlogs, but primarily to provide the “basis” for future economic growth, job creation and social cohesion.
The conference, which was convened by President Jacob Zuma, who heads the Presidential Infrastructure Coordinating Commission established to improve infrastructure planning and coordination, was attended by organised business, labour, built-environment professionals, academics, construction companies, manufacturers, local and domestic financial institutions, as well as provincial premiers and metropolitan mayors.
Motlanthe said efforts should be made to galvanise domestic savings and pensions funds in support of the projects, while also stressing the need for foreign and domestic investments to complement the efforts of government departments and State-owned companies.
The multitrillion-rand programme could not be funded through domestic savings alone, he said.
Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel added that various funding models would be pursued and interrogated, including ensuring that pension fund resources were deployed in the form of both project equity and debt.
The comments come amid ongoing appeals from the business community for clarity on the envisaged role for public–private partnerships within the infrastructure plan, which some observers have criticised for being overly dominated by public entities.
The Sip clusters, which have been enlarged from 17 to 18, with the inclusion of a national water and sanitation cluster of projects, include energy projects, mineral export transport corridors, municipal infrastructure projects, agro-logistics schemes, information communication and science programmes, educational and health infrastructure plans and regional integration projects.
Motlanthe said the 20-year National Infrastructure Development Plan created the potential for “practical” partnerships associated directly with the construction of the projects, but also for building the manufacturing capacity needed to supply into the projects.
The end result should be country that is “more socially cohesive, more prosperous and more productive”, Motlanthe said.