South Africa would spend as much as R4-trillion on infrastructure development projects over the next 15 years, President Jacob Zuma said at a Presidential Infrastructure Investment Conference, in Sandton, on Friday.
He said some of these projects would have to be paid for by the private sector, such as industrial projects connected to infrastructure. The State would invest about R844-billion on infrastructure developments over the next three years.
Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel told journalists at the conference that the 20-year National Infrastructure Development Plan was radically different than previous initiatives as it was geared towards attracting and facilitating investment, while reaching across all provinces.
The plan was aimed at constructing new projects and expediting existing ones to enable economic and social development.
The plan clusters 645 infrastructure projects into strategic integrated projects, or Sips, which now numbered 18 following the recent addition of a Water and Sanitation Masterplan.
Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe said implementation of the projects would be the most challenging. He called on industry to partner with government in achieving the country’s development goals.
“The rationale behind this approach is to do away with the bureaucratic properties and expedite the implementation part of our work.”
Zuma stated that South Africa should use what it had learned in terms of project management with its hosting of the 2010 FIFA World Cup to successfully implement the National Infrastructure Development Plan.
"The failure to invest in basic services in black communities over the decades of colonial oppression and apartheid is a critical element in the persistence of inequality today."
He added that although the country still had a long way to go, it had made progress in improving and creating infrastructure over the past 18 years, since the advent of democracy.
Zuma further said local sourcing of construction materials for infrastructure development projects would contribute to manufacturing in South Africa, adding to job creation.
The President stressed the importance of collaboration between government, labour and the private sector in achieving the goals set by the infrastructure plan.
At the conference, various memoranda of understanding (MoUs) between the State and social partners were signed, including an MoU between the government; business associations, including Business Unity South Africa and the Black Business Council; labour organisations, including the Congress of South African Trade Unions, the Federation of Unions of South Africa and the National Council of Trade Unions; as well as community organisations consisting of the South African National Civic Organisation, the Women’s National Coalition, the South African Youth Council and various organisations represented by the National Economic Development and Labour Council.
The parties committed to pursue the formalisation of a partnership to support the implementation of the National Infrastructure Development Plan.
In addition to laying the foundation for long-term growth, as well as social and economic development, the plan also formed part of the measures to counter the impact of the struggling global economy on South Africa.
“Given that our economy is so intertwined with the global economy, especially in terms of trade, we have to work on measures to stay afloat,” Zuma said.