Experts stressed the importance of the upcoming Sustainable Infrastructure Development Symposium SA during a recent Business Day Dialogue, hosted with ISA and IDC

The 2024 Sustainable Infrastructure Development Symposium SA (SIDSSA) will take place from March 17 to 19 at the Century City Conference Centre in Cape Town.

Ahead of this symposium, a Business Day Dialogue — presented in partnership with the Industrial Development Corporation of SA (IDC) and Infrastructure SA (ISA) — brought together a panel of experts to discuss how the development of infrastructure can drastically contribute towards the country’s economic recovery and growth.

Hosted by seasoned journalist Iman Rappetti, this panel discussion — watch the recording below — featured:

  • Dr Hubert Joynt, programme manager of the Centre of Excellence at ISA;
  • Nina Yose, head of infrastructure at the IDC;
  • Mohale Rakgate, head of the SA Infrastructure Fund (IF) at the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA); and
  • Luvuyo Mkontwana, GM of special projects at the Transnet National Ports Authority.

In her opening address, Rappetti reported daily losses of R900m at peak stage 6 load-shedding in 2023. Reflecting on SA’s extremely narrow escape from being relegated to recession status in the fourth quarter, Rappetti optimistically imagined a positive GDP growth status for the country, after adequate investment into the development of infrastructure.

This investment could “significantly reduce unemployment by nearly 6%”, a number likely to be met with natural scepticism by the average South African, she said.

To help make this happen, SIDSSA will bring together industry heads in the field of infrastructure and expert number crunchers to plan and implement strategies to assist economic recovery and growth.

According to Rappetti, President Cyril Ramaphosa’s aspirations for the two-day symposium include “see(ing) how people can partner in the economy. What do the partnerships between the public and the private sector look like? What are the investment opportunities for infrastructure in SA?

“A big piece, of course, is around conversations in the regulatory and policy environment space: what reforms do we need, how do we get innovative funding models for infrastructure and investment?”

Giving context on the origins of SIDSSA, which was founded during the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, Joynt said that “infrastructure was identified as the fly wheel of economic recovery”.

He highlighted the sharing of information between sectors for the common goal of economic growth and development as a key objective of SIDSSA.

Continuing in the vein of how varying industries could operate in collaboration and support one another, Yose and Rakgate expounded on how the IDC and IF function to provide funding and resources for the implementation of each other’s projects.

Mkontwana spoke similarly of the need for infrastructural development and support in ports and railways.

Focusing on the progress of SIDSSA, now in its third iteration, Joynt emphasised the importance of focusing on 12 pipeline projects estimated to cost R1-trillion.

Similarly, Rakgate reflected on pipeline and implementation stage projects of the IF, including the Goodwood housing project in the Western Cape, whose success is attributable to collaborations with the IDC and other stakeholders.

Joynt suggested that the first two symposia’s success is reflected by the turnaround time in gazetted projects, attributable to the information-sharing platforms created by SIDSSA. Additionally, he noted a level of rapport built between the private and public sectors, which was historically marred by mistrust and suspicion.

Rakgate discussed some problems that may arise, affecting the execution of projects, such as changes in government administration. Important to the IF, Rakgate suggested, was the negotiation of contracts and agreements that remained impervious to administrative changes, negating the need for renegotiation.

Projects must benefit the communities that they are implemented in.
Nina Yose, head of infrastructure at the IDC

Seeking clarity on the ownership and funding of IF’s projects, Rappetti asked Rakgate about the proportion of foreign vs local investment into projects. “Our projects are 99% South African funded,” he said.

Yose highlighted the function of the IDC, emphasising that the body gives funding to projects after extensive feasibility studies including the economic and social reach of projects. “Projects must benefit the communities that they are implemented in,” she said, while drawing attention to the hybrid nature of IF projects in their ability to develop society and the economy.

Current infrastructure in the ports system which, according to Rappetti, “contributes to R98m in losses daily”, continues to cripple economic growth and development. Despite the grim reality, Mkontwana made assurances that there were several multidimensional strategies to turn that around in attempts to re-encourage investment into ports. This included penalising port operators performing below expectation and deepening ports to accommodate larger vessels.

SIDSSA, in Rappetti’s analogy, functions as a “marquee” under which integral issues, projects and partnerships within infrastructural development are situated, where private and public sector stakeholders can congregate for the common goal of achieving economic recovery and development.

With online sessions also available, there’s an open call for all to attend SIDSSA 2024. Click here to register your interest.

Watch the full discussion here:


Image source: Arena Events