The Sustainable Infrastructure Development System (SIDS) project methodology is important for development in South Africa because the country cannot afford to fund projects that do not have a good return, particularly from an economic and/or a social perspective, says Consulting Engineers South Africa CEO Chris Campbell.
The SIDS methodology was introduced in June last year to identify projects that contribute to sustainable infrastructure development and have bankability.
The methodology also aims to ensure that projects have a positive economic and social development impact.
Campbell points out that it is important to subject projects to a life cycle evaluation process that evaluates various facets of a project to determine if it is a worthy investment, rather than develop a project that does not contribute to the economy or benefit the public.
To assist in identifying projects that meet the sustainability criteria according to the SIDS methodology, the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure has established an Infrastructure South Africa unit, led by Dr Kgosientso Ramokgopa.
“The unit’s workstreams are intended to manage the processing of projects. It puts the projects through a multilevel filtering process to determine whether they are at a point where funding can be made available for further development, culminating in construction and operations.”
The project lifecycle starts with the project concept, then progresses to the prefeasibility stage, the feasibility stage and, provided that enough optioneering has been done, the bankability stage.
The prefeasibility stage involves assessing the viability of the various project solutions at a high level and whether there are immediate identifiable potential fatal flaws that would render such options not worth further consideration.
Campbell notes that there have been many projects in South Africa that have not been as successful as they were promised to be because they were not subjected to all the stages.
The projects were not evaluated on their applicability or relevance in the South African context. This involved a lot of funding essentially being wasted on projects that did not have a good return because it was not suitable for South Africa and its specifications, he adds.
At the bankability stage, developers should be confident in determining the cost benefits of a project. If the project is part of economic infrastructure, the cost benefit needs to be determined. Additionally, a level of confidence is required with regard to the budget and the timeframe for the final delivery.
Once a project has been deemed bankable, it progresses to the preliminary design stage, the final design stage and then the implementation stage.
The SIDS methodology prioritises the evaluation of projects to ensure that they are subjected to all the required stages and can deliver positive growth.
While it is still early to determine the effectiveness of the methodology and its impact on infrastructure development, Campbell says if the methodology is used correctly, and according to what it has been mandated to do, it can have a positive impact on infrastructure development and growth.