Am­bi­tious roll­out will mod­ernise, ex­pand SA

Re­newal project to se­cure power sup­ply, cre­ate new dams, rail­way lines and jobs

The New Age (Gauteng) - - COMMENT - Anal­y­sis Jessie Duarte: ANC deputy sec­re­tary-gen­eral

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.

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