Trucks and money: Ramaphosa calls on private sector to bet on infrastructure

19 March 2024 - 13:00
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President Cyril Ramaphosa at the Sustainable Infrastructure Development symposium.
President Cyril Ramaphosa at the Sustainable Infrastructure Development symposium.
Image: PresidencyZA via X

President Cyril Ramaphosa urged the private sector to channel its financial resources and technical expertise to the government’s latest drive to develop large-scale infrastructure projects to catalyse economic growth.

The president was speaking at the Sustainable Infrastructure Development Symposium South Africa in Cape Town on Tuesday. The event brings together government leaders, business leaders, investors and foreign delegates to discuss and plan infrastructure.

The event also served to release the Construction Book, which will include all earmarked infrastructure projects for implementation this year. The document includes 153 projects with a total capital expenditure of R158.54bn.

Ramaphosa said since the establishment of Infrastructure South Africa as the project co-ordinating arm of the state and the government’s infrastructure plan in 2020 and 2022 respectively, the government has learnt lessons which will be applied to infrastructure projects in future.

“There is a tendency to develop good infrastructure where we fail to maintain it and it later falls into disrepair. This is a drive we invested in because one of the challenges we found in this administration was the funding gap.”

The president made no bones about government being keen to see the private sector fund its projects over the coming years. However, he said, the private sector could provide assistance in the way of funding as well as technical expertise.

“It is estimated that to achieve our infrastructure goals we need almost R4.8-trillion to address the challenges we face as a country. And we need that from the public sector and the private sector to a much larger extent. That is why many of you are here, because the people with the money are here.

“It reminds me of a story of this person who was always in court for robbing banks. At some point the judge asked ‘why do you like robbing banks so much?’ The man said ‘because that is where the money is’. So, this is where the money is. We are not going to rob you. We are inviting you to invest.”

He urged the private sector to co-operate with the state and ignore “doomsayers” who are pessimistic about South Africa’s growth and development prospects, calling on them to take on a child-like optimism about South Africa’s future.

“If you can be as imaginative as you were when you were younger and you longed to play with those yellow toy trucks, then you will see this is a country that is going somewhere.”

Highlighting the urgency of the continent’s need for infrastructure, Ramaphosa said Sub-Saharan Africa has the longest turnaround times on shipping and logistics of any region in the world.

Public works and infrastructure minister Sihle Zikalala said: “We must emerge with tangible agreements and plans to finance infrastructure as part of the plan for Africa’s development.”

The minister added the government appreciated the private sector’s concerns about organised crime in the construction sector and vandalism and destruction of infrastructure, which remained rife, adding this was being confronted.

The Construction Book launched at the symposium outlined 12 projects worth more than R120bn for delivery in the next seven years:

  • a liquefied natural gas import terminal;
  • the Durban container terminal pier 1;
  • Port Elizabeth’s (Gqeberha's) berth A100 liquid bulk;
  • Ukuvuselela National Rail Development for automotive volumes;
  • health facilities refurbishment;
  • schools projects in Limpopo and KwaZulu-Natal;
  • Eskom’s Mossel Bay gas project;
  • Eskom’s Tubatse pumped hydro project;
  • phase 2 of Hammanskraal’s Rooiwal waste water project;
  • Amathole’s water bulk supply augmentation;
  • Nkhomazi special economic zone development; and
  • Namakwa special economic zone development.

Business Times

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