Infrastructure roll-out to support economy needs basic service delivery over long term

8th February 2021 By: Schalk Burger - Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor

Addressing the current fiscal imbalance in the economy through accelerated and efficient infrastructure procurement and achieving the objectives of the National Development Plan (NDP) require a strategic focus on not just the short-term, but the medium- to long-term delivery of basic services in South Africa, says industry body the South African Institution of Civil Engineering (SAICE).

To revitalise and rebuild the South African economy, the government must focus on five key pillars that are fundamental to service delivery, namely technology, skills development, grass-roots society, sustainability and integration of key institutions to have a common vision linked to the objectives of the NDP.

"To close the gaps that hinder the delivery of basic services in South Africa, policy and procurement need to be integrated to achieve a common vision that does not focus only on what needs to be done, but more strategically on how it should be done.

“Alleviating poverty, inequality and unemployment, and focusing on improved skills development and inclusiveness, requires that these key pillars be integrated. There is an urgent need to remove the disconnect and to understand that behind these challenges are real people with real issues," says SAICE CEO Vishaal Lutchman.

“We need new thinking and innovation around our long-term strategic planning. This type of planning will provide us with the tools to continue to grow the economy even in times of crisis. If we can integrate the current work streams, there is an opportunity for convergence and a home-made South African solution for infrastructure delivery.”

He called on government to engage institutions, such as SAICE, that have seasoned industry experts in technical and strategic competencies, to help innovate with a common purpose to achieve the strategic objectives of the NDP.

Further, understanding the challenges faced by the South African economy considering the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, SAICE reiterates the importance of having a robust, multiyear project pipeline.

“Such projects do not change from year to year. The pipeline has been stress-tested, has merit and is feasible even though it may not be funded. However, the pipeline is integrated, makes sense and will assist with the many strategic initiatives that are linked to the NDP.”