Ambitious rollout will modernise, expand SA
Renewal project to secure power supply, create new dams, railway lines and jobs
SOMETIMES in the maze of politics, protests and mudslinging, it is easy to forget that South Africa is a country at work.
This administration, for all its flaws, has put in place the most comprehensive infrastructure renewal project that’s changing the landscape of the country while securing our power supply, creating new dams, railway lines, container terminals and creating thousands of jobs.
This is a bold, ambitious rollout of our national infrastructure to modernise and expand it and to create capacity for a growing population that is increasingly concentrated in our urban centres.
President Jacob Zuma has taken a personal interest in the infrastructure rollout programme. He created the Presidential Infrastructure Coordinating Commission (PICC) to personally oversee this massive rollout. The PICC has as its core mandate:
• Coordinating, integrating, accelerating and implementation of infrastructure projects;
• Ensuring systematic selection, planning and monitoring of large projects;
• Identifying who is responsible for infrastructure and holding them to account;
• Developing a 20year planning framework beyond one administration.
The PICC consists of a council, which is chaired by the president, a secretariat chaired by Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel and a management committee chaired by Rural Development and Land Reform Minister Gugile Nkwinti. It has identified 18 strategic infrastructure projects (SIPs) nationally, that are overseen by a technical task team.
They have been placed into six categories – geographic, spatial, energy, social infrastructure, knowledge, water and sanitation. The first SIPs, chaired by the minister of Public Works, aims to unlock mineral resources and develop rail, water pipelines, energy generation and transmission infrastructure while creating thousands of direct and indirect jobs.
A key focus of this SIP has been the Waterberg range in Limpopo, which contains the country’s richest mineral deposits, including coal, chromium, palladium and platinum.
The Waterberg coalfields of Lephalale, which hold around 50 billion tons of coal, are of great importance. At the moment, coal from Waterberg is transported to the Matimba power station in Limpopo.
The government has opted to build new power stations next to these coalfields, hence the Medupi power station, of which around three units are now in operation. Because most of our exported coal is shipped out of Richards Bay but transported from Limpopo via Mpumalanga, a massive project is under way to complete a rail link between that province and KwaZulu-Natal to reduce reliance on roads.
Another infrastructure project that is worth noting, according to information obtained from the PICC, is the extraction and beneficiation/ export of South Africa’s manganese reserves, of which 75% are found in the Northern Cape, near the Kalahari. Work is under way to strengthen the rail line that runs from these mining areas in the Northern Cape to the Eastern Cape, from where some manganese will be exported and some beneficiated.
Transport infrastructure is being rolled out in South Africa’s 12 largest urban centres to provide for an integrated urban space and public transport centred around Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) systems in all the metros.
Already, over 40 000 people in Johannesburg use its Rea Vaya BRT, which was one of the first to be launched along with
Cape Town’s My City service, which runs on their own dedicated lanes. Tshwane recently launched its A Re Yeng Bus Rapid system, Ekurhuleni will soon follow with Harambee.
A similar Bus Rapid Transport system is planned for the Nelson Mandela Bay metro.
The Green Energy in Support of the South African Economy is a SIP chaired by the minister of energy. At its core is South Africa’s renewable energy programme, which has been described by the World Wildlife Fund as “a flagship publicprivate partnership model”.
By 2015 the renewable energy programme, through 37 independent power producers (IPPs), was delivering 1 860MW to the grid.
The programme is also attracting substantial foreign investment and financing (R53.2bn by 2015). The Department of Energy has committed to renewable energy procurement of 13 225MW by 2025; the IRP is aiming for 17 800MW by 2030.
The infrastructure development programme is also helping to address one of South Africa’s most acute problems, lack of accommodation for many of our 1 millionplus students in various higher education institutions.
Good higher education enrolment rates have created a backlog in student beds. From 2012 to 2015 the Department of Higher Education completed 9 501 new beds for student accommodation, but this will need to be ramped up significantly to resolve the backlog of some
200 000 student beds. Billions of rands have been earmarked for improving infrastructure for higher education institutions focusing on lecture rooms, student accommodation, libraries, laboratories and ICT connectivity.
Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel, who oversees the PICC, says South Africa is spending an estimated R1bn a day on infrastructure. This is the largest infrastructure programme in the country’s history and employs over 200 000 people.
The infrastructure development project will remain a legacy of Zuma’s that can never be erased. “South Africa’s national infrastructure project is one of the world’s biggest infrastructure rollouts and the biggest on the African continent. The eyes of the global investment community are on us.
“International governments and world bodies are watching us. Our successes will stand as a beacon of hope to millions and they will show the world South Africans can work together, that we can unite behind a common cause and are capable of excellence. What more inspiration do we need?” Zuma said.