The Integrated Resource Plan 2018 (IRP 2018) could revive South Africa’s struggling construction sector, says engineering consultancy DBI Consulting Engineers executive director Monty Ditibane.
The draft IRP 2018, which outlines the plan for South Africa to meet its growing national electricity demands until 2030, was released in August for public comment by Energy Minister Jeff Radebe. Interested persons and organisations had 60 days to submit written comments.
Ditibane tells Engineering News that the construction industry has been in decline for some time, which has, ultimately, resulted in the industry being “on its knees”, adding that the political environment over the last ten years is largely to blame.
However, the draft IRP 2018 could provide relief for the industry in the long term, provided that it is approached and implemented correctly, he states, adding that public–private partnerships will be crucial.
As the IRP is an electricity infrastructure development plan, the rolling out thereof will include the construction of new infrastructure, as well as the maintenance and repair of existing infrastructure. Further, infrastructure will be retrofitted with new technologies as the Fourth Industrial Revolution progresses.
Ditibane notes that these developments will be carried out by labour-absorbing industries, and adds that the development and operation of the infrastructure are long term in nature. Therefore, the construction industry can be revived and there will be a turnaround in the long term, he explains.
Further, Ditibane welcomes the IRP, but adds that it should be unpacked in detail, as he questions whether the policy formulation process allows for flexibility, and whether the country can afford to have such lengthy participation and approval processes when challenges need to be addressed timeously.
He also questions whether the country has people with the necessary skills to carry out the IRP. “We cannot have an unplanned set of skills, organised throughput is needed.”
He emphasises that the success of the IRP is anchored in a host of variables – an integrated approach must be taken, and preparation and planning is pivotal.
Ditibane mentions that even though the construction industry and the country are facing challenging times, it must be realised that there are many opportunities and initiatives to uplift the industry and the country.
“We need to advocate for the implementation of initiatives, and we need to ensure that we consolidate to meet and support the initiatives of government and raise our hands to help with the solution,” he concludes.