S.Africa unveils mega-projects to boost growth
South Africa said Wednesday it would push ahead with an ambitious building plan that includes a 3.2 trillion rand ($414 billion, 313 billion euros) investment in infrastructure over nine years.
The programme is the centrepiece of the government’s drive to grow the economy and create jobs.
Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan said investments in energy, housing, transport, education, and water to 2020 were “ambitious but not unmanageable”.
“We are beginning an exciting phase in the South African economy… We are taking an investment-led path,” he told journalists before presenting his annual budget to parliament.
The bulk of the projects are still being assessed, with just a quarter financed and underway, such as the state power group Eskom’s drive to boost South Africa’s problematic electricity supply.
“These investments will improve critical bottlenecks and allow the economy and employment to grow at a more rapid pace,” said a budget document released on Wednesday.
Eskom is developing two giant coal-fired power stations, with one in Kusile to cost 121 billion rands and one in Medupi another 99 billion rands.
Both are expected to be operational by 2014.
Gordhan said the planned investments would be co-financed by state development institutions and the private sector, “without relying on expensive external finance or complex structured arrangements.”
“We are aware of several weaknesses in the state’s infrastructure capacity. In the past, spending has lagged behind plans,” he said.
Also on the cards is the building of two new universities, an upgrade of the passenger rail system and hospitals, and a high-speed rail linking Johannesburg and Durban on the east coast.
The government is also to invest 75 billion rands in large-scale water projects, including the second phase of the Lesotho Highlands water project, which is to supply water to the economic hub of Gauteng.
South African water demand is expected to outstrip supply between 2025 and 2030, according to official projections.
Low-income housing and upgrades to shantytowns will get 77.5 billion rand over the next three years.
More than three million homes have been built since the end of white-minority rule in 1994, but an estimated backlog of 2.1 million remains and nearly 70 percent of it is in urban areas.