South Africa is now investing more than R1 billion per working day in infrastructure, including schools, new houses, new power and water pipelines. This is according to Minister of Economic Development Comrade Ebrahim Patel, who presented his department’s annual Budget Vote speech in the National Assembly last week.
This massive infrastructure investment is a key priority of both the National Development Plan (NDP) and the Nine-Point Plan unveiled by Comrade President Jacob Zuma during his State of the Nation address in February 2015.
As noted in the ANC’s National General Council (NGC) discussion documents of 2015, state-led public investment ‘provides a strong stimulus to growth and employment’, particularly in a low-growth environment. At the same time, such public sector investment should serve as a ‘catalyst to facilitate and increase private sector investment.’
The country’s public sector investment is driven through the Presidential Infrastructure Coordination Committee, set up ‘to coordinate the country’s infrastructure build and upgrade programmes across all spheres of government and priority sectors of the economy.’
According to the Department of Economic Development, during 2015 the economy crossed the R4 trillion GDP mark for the first time. In addition, for the first time total employment levels reached 16 million jobs.
The heavy investment in upgrading existing infrastructure and in building new, is playing a role in improving the lives of ordinary South Africans. Over the past financial year this R1 billion per month has helped the ANC-government to:
- Build 160 new schools
- Build about 100 000 new houses
- Connect 245 000 houses to electricity, equal to 1 000 houses connected every day to the grid, Monday to Friday, 52 weeks a year
- Bring 1 700 megawatts of new electricity onto the national grid, equal to the household needs of Nelson Mandela Bay, Emalahleni, Polokwane, Mangaung, Buffalo City and Rustenburg.
With regards to investment in infrastructure that facilitates service delivery, over the past year the ANC-government has also been able to lay 100 kms of large water pipelines , ‘conveying billions of litres of water a week to communities and businesses’, build 29 new clinics and one new hospital, and complete three buildings of Mpumalanga University and new student accommodation for 4 210 student country-wide.
‘New mega-projects that will be brought into construction include the Mzimvubu Dam, two massive bridges as part of the N2 Wildcoast road from East London to eThekwini, the Moloto Road, raising of the ClanWilliam Dam and the large water pipeline from the Mokolo and Crocodile rivers to Lephalale in the Waterberg area.’
According to the Department of Economic Development, ‘the direct employment created through infrastructure investment is estimated at 291 000 and with indirect and induced employment, there were 715 000 jobs supported by the state’s infrastructure programme.’
Investment in energy infrastucture is a major success story of the ANC-government. Earlier this year, the new BRICS Bank approved a loan in record time of R2,6 billion (US$180m) to South Africa to lay transmission lines for the renewable energy plants.
At times of sluggish economic growth, it is widely accepted that infrastructure-based development directed towards long-term assets can not only contribute to economic growth, but is key to improving the delivery of services. In a developing country such as South Africa, state-led investment in infrastructure is making a real, tangible difference in Moving South Africa Forward.