Private sector called to work with government on infrastructure

Thursday, March 24, 2022

Public Works and Infrastructure Minister, Patricia de Lille, has challenged the private sector to approach government in order to get information on what government is doing, and what opportunities are available for them within the infrastructure industry.

“We do want to work with the private sector and we would want to see more investment from the private sector in infrastructure. There are lot of opportunities existing, and government has committed R100 billion in the infrastructure fund for the next 10 years,” De Lille said.

She said that government also has an infrastructure investment committee consisting of both public and private sector, where many projects are being considered.

Speaking at the South African Investment Conference break way session, which focussed on infrastructure finance, De Lille said government has seen a great response from the private sector in terms of lack of skills within the public sector.

De Lille said the private sector has between 25 to 42 people coming in to assist with much needed skills.

She said government has also put a panel of all professionals in the build environment, this include 30 specialists, who are being called anytime, as, and when needed.

“That’s where we need the help of private sector. We need to see more cranes out there, but to bring more certainty to the market in terms of where are we going with infrastructure,” De Lille said.

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 National Infrastructure Plan of 2050

The Minister also noted great progress on National Infrastructure Plan of 2050, where they have started with a three-year plan of the 2050 plan.

She said that through the plan, government has collected 62 infrastructure projects existing within the country, which is a central part of the government’s Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan (ERRP).

The projects involve three spheres of government, state-owned entities and departments, and the private sector. The projects include the building of bridges, water systems, road and rail upgrades, student and social housing, among others.

National Spatial Development Framework

She announced that Cabinet would, in the next two weeks consider a National Spatial Development Framework policy.

“For now with the National Spatial Development Framework, we over layered over the National Infrastructure Plan of 2050 and you will be able to see exactly what infrastructure is needed where, and also in terms of what pieces of our country is zoned for agriculture [where] we’ve only got about 9 percent edible land,” De Lille said.

The Minister also emphasised a need to integrate cities and deal with appropriate spatial planning.

“We cannot continue to put our people far out of the cities. Poor people spend 40 percent of their budget, just to travel to and from work. These two policy documents [National Infrastructure Plan of 2050 and National Spatial Development Framework] must bring certainty to the construction industry, as to where and what direction government is moving to.”

“We also need to know from private sector, what is your thinking, what is your vision, what is your direction, where are you going to. For instance, if you decide you want to do development, say here in Sandton, government needs to know that we need to direct our resources to deliver the parking infrastructure so that you can do your development, and that kind of co-ordination is still a bit weak,” De Lille said.

She added that government is currently focussing on five sectors, including energy, water, transport, ICT and human settlements.

“The second phase of 2050 will be looking more at the needs and social infrastructure. To deal with social infrastructure [and] the lack of basic services in our schools, we have now established a purpose vehicle that can drive social infrastructure and deal with the backlog in our country.

“For the current financial year, we will be dealing with schools without ablution facilities, water and sanitation, starting with two provinces, Eastern Cape and Northern Cape,” the Minister explained. –