Infrastructure under spotlight

Friday, April 13, 2012

Johannesburg - Infrastructure development will remain critical in helping South Africa's economy deliver the targeted five million jobs by 2020, Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe said on Friday.

Speaking at the start of the Provincial and Local Government Infrastructure Conference in Johannesburg, Motlanthe conceded that the pace of infrastructure delivery in the country was sluggish, adding that this needed to change if South Africa is to achieve its goals as the biggest economy on the continent.

The conference, which is being attended by Premiers, Directors General, MECs and representatives from all major municipalities across the country, has been called by President Jacob Zuma as part of the work of the Presidential Infrastructure Coordinating Commission (PICC) to unpack the country's infrastructure plan.

Cabinet set up the PICC to bring together representatives from the three spheres of government under one national plan for infrastructure development.

"This infrastructure plan lays the foundation in which industrial activities take place, the experience of fast growing economies is that their planning horizon is longer than one electoral cycle and that they invest heavily in infrastructure," Motlanthe said.

He said the PICC's mandate would be to develop a 20-year infrastructure pipeline and ensure that the country planned ahead and moved away from the "stop start" syndrome around the building of infrastructure.

"This will allow us to ensure better financial mobilisation, a greater certainty to the construction industry and to plan our skills development strategies and provide a road map for investors and communities," said Motlanthe.

The PICC has completed the draft infrastructure plan which was discussed at the Cabinet Lekgotla in January this year. The plan sets out the challenges which South Africa needs to respond to in the building and development of infrastructure.

Motlanthe said the plan was detailed and sets key goals that the country needs to adhere to in order to unlock economic growth and foreign investment. It is being supported by all government departments and parastatals.

State-owned freight logistics company Transnet has committed to create create 588 000 new jobs in the country's economy following the launch this week of its R300 billion infrastructure development plan.

The company said the strategy was aimed at expanding the country's rails, port and pipeline infrastructure. This will result in an increase in freight volumes especially for commodities like iron ore, coal and manganese.

Transnet is also involved in the development of the Port of Ngqurha in Port Elizabeth and the Dube Trade Port in Durban, which were both opened by President Jacob Zuma last month. The projects are expected to unlock economic opportunities in the two provinces while driving South Africa's import and export trade initiatives.

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