S.Africa’s Zuma unveils $40 bn in building in rail, ports
South Africa will invest 300 billion rand ($39.6 billion, 29.7 billion euros) in rail and port projects over the next seven years as part of a job creation drive, President Jacob Zuma said Thursday.
“For the year 2012 and beyond, we invite the nation to join the government in a massive infrastructure development drive,” Zuma said on national television for his State of the Nation address to parliament.
The nationwide building spree aims largely to boost mining and exports by connecting key inland regions to the sea and expanding the capacity of the nation’s ports, which include Africa’s busiest port in Durban.
Zuma said 200 billion rands would go toward rail projects, with most of the rest to be invested in the ports.
The spending was the centrepiece of Zuma’s proposals to combat what he calls the “triple challenges of unemployment, poverty and inequality”.
Despite steady economic growth since the end of white-minority rule in 1994, South Africa has battled against a stubbornly high unemployment rate, officially at 23.9 percent in the last quarter of 2011, its lowest level since 2009.
The figure rises to 32.7 percent when those who have given up hope of finding work are included, a sobering statistic that leaves nearly 40 percent of the country living in poverty with one of the world’s biggest gaps between rich and poor.