Ernest Wolmarans
2 minute read
20 Mar 2014
7:30 am

Infrastructure is a ‘good story’ with gaps

Ernest Wolmarans

South Africa has a good story to tell in terms of infrastructure development over the last 20 years – but this story remains incomplete and the gaps must be filled for the story to continue for future generations.

FILE PICTURE: Malusi Gigaba. Picture Nigel Sibanda

This is according to Minister of Public Enterprises Malusi Gigaba, who was addressing the challenges faced by the country in terms of critical infrastructure in a public lecture presented at the University of Johannesburg on Tuesday.

He said R328 billion had been spent on infrastructure nationally over the past three years, with an additional R95 billion earmarked for infrastructure development in the current financial year.

By 2020, capital investment in infrastructure will account for an additional 11 000MW to the national power grid, 6 500km of transitional network cabling to expand electrical reach and 13 000km of fibre optic cabling to boost broadband coverage.

The country has a relatively low economic growth rate of less than 2% and industrialisation was the key to heighten the average, he said.

This would be achieved through government’s National Development Plan (NDP), a long-term guide towards economic transformation, which adopted an integrated approach to infrastructure development.

A request by Transnet to develop capacity at Durban’s port terminal, for example, would not be looked at in isolation, he said.

“If the request was to increase the number of import and export containers the port was capable of handling, we would also look at the N3 highway to see if it could handle increased traffic volumes,” Gigaba said.

Rail infrastructure to and from the port would also be considered in the hypothetical example, as would the implementation of logistical hubs in Harrismith, midway between Durban and Johannesburg, to improve logistical efficiency and drive down costs.

“Every project must be viewed in the context of the broader impacts it will have on the economy and infrastructure needs across several provinces, rather than only on the province directly affected by the development.

“Ultimately we want to look back at development and positively answer the question of whether it empowered citizens to become active contributors to the economy,” Gigaba said.