South Africa keeps on tripping itself up when it comes to infrastructure project development and implementation, says New Development Bank (NDB) Africa regional office director-general Monale Ratsoma.
The NDB is a multilateral development bank established by the Brics States, namely Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.
Ratsoma on June 22 spoke during the transport session at the Sustainable Infrastructure Development Symposium South Africa.
“From a regional point of view, there are a number of challenges. There is a healthy pipeline of projects that are struggling for implementation for reasons that are really about ourselves,” said Ratsoma.
“As a country, we keep on tripping ourselves. If you take the lead-up to the [2010 FIFA] World Cup, it was clear as a country what we were focused on. It was clear what the end goal was. Everything was going according to plan. We should have learned lessons from that implementation model.
“Fast forward, and, since then, our gross fixed capital formation has fallen steadily and we find ourselves with issues on infrastructure and project preparedness . . . there are bigger underlying issues with the implementation of projects, with much of that coming from regulations and policy indecision.”
Ratsoma said the NDB was, for example, ready to implement a number of projects with the South African National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral), but that this was constrained by the pending policy decision from government – nine years and counting – on e-tolling in Gauteng.
“That in itself is a cost on the economy. The multiplier effect it would generate by making a decision – just give some certainty. We have approved a facility for Sanral to deploy, but we have not been able to roll it out. Many of these issues are really about how we as South Africa are holding ourselves back.”
Transport Authority of Gauteng head Jack van der Merwe added that, while government had a well-defined private–public partnership (PPP) framework in the Public Finance Management Act, the country still had no official rail policy, but rather a draft White Paper.
Van der Merwe was responsible for the roll-out of the first phase of the PPP Gautrain rapid rail system in South Africa, with a second phase across Gauteng in the early planning stages.
“If you want people from Europe and overseas to invest in projects, you need to give them certainty,” said Van der Merwe.