It’s not only trillions of rands that South Africa needs to meet its lofty infrastructure goals but also project prioritisation and a plan to access the specialist skills of people in retirement and working in the private sector, says James Formby, RMB chief executive officer.
“The ambitions of the Infrastructure and Investment Office (IIO) in the Presidency are laudable. We know we need a lot of money.
“But we also need specialist construction and project management as well as financial people – some of whom have moved to other industries or are retired. We really need them back now.”
Formby suggests that some experts could act as advisers to the government while others could be seconded into government’s IIO to create a centre of excellence under Dr Ramokgopa with the right mix of skills to get projects moving.
He noted that further prioritisation of the initial 88 projects identified would be welcome, especially as the need to kickstart the projects was urgent.
“Many potential projects is encouraging, but it would be helpful to distil these down to say 10 really important ones that will have the greatest impact on improving people’s lives with the largest multiplier effect on the economy.”
Judy Kobus, co-head of Infrastructure Finance at RMB, said that they have identified specific projects that should be tackled first.
“We looked at the most important prioritisation factors for the pipeline of infrastructure projects – economic growth and job creation, those with limited national budget reliance as well as project readiness, defined as those projects with a relatively short implementation timeline.”
Kobus said that the fifth round of the country’s renewable energy independent power producer procurement programme (REIPPP) would be an excellent place to start because South Africa is energy scarce and will likely suffer outages again as the economy picks up after the coronavirus lockdown.
This will create thousands of jobs and bring tens of billions of rands of investment into South Africa. In addition, this procurement can be implemented relatively quickly and very competitively as the project developers have already developed a large number of projects for this bid round, she said.
“Also on the priority list should be deregulating electricity self-generation, as well as the Gautrain additional rolling stock project and Gautrain phase 2. The new line will run from Marlboro through Sandton and Randburg to Cosmo City and on to Little Falls, Roodepoort” Kobus said.
She said that the SA Border Posts project, which aims to develop six one-stop border posts to improve border efficiency, and the Gauteng hospital revitalisation programme which entails the refurbishment and construction of four hospitals in the Gauteng Province should also be on the priority list.
“South Africa’s economy is in a dire state. Getting some of these large projects financed and truly shovel ready still requires a lot of hard work.
“To succeed, we need stronger collaboration between the IIO, National Treasury, other arms of government and the private sector, particularly financiers, to take the list ‘live’,” Kobus said.