Ramaphosa eyes massive infrastructure projects to resuscitate economy
Cape Town - President Cyril Ramaphosa has said the implementation of the reconstruction and recovery plan would raise growth to around 3% on average over the next 10 years.
"Our recovery will be propelled by swift reforms to unleash the potential of the economy, and supported by an efficient state that is committed to clean governance," Ramaphosa said when addressing the joint sitting of Parliament.
He said the plan recognised that to support a rapid economic rebound, South Africa needed to focus on a few high-impact interventions and ensure they are executed swiftly and effectively.
Ramaphosa also said the country would embark on a massive rollout of infrastructure throughout the country as the first priority intervention.
"We have developed a robust pipeline of projects that will completely transform the landscape of our cities, towns and rural areas.
"By the end of June 2020, we had 276 catalytic projects with an investment value of R2.3 trillion.
"Moreover, a list of 50 strategic integrated projects and 12 special projects was gazetted in July 2020," he said.
The president said the projects have been prioritised for immediate implementation with all regulatory processes fast-tracked that enabled over R340bn in new investment.
The president also said the Infrastructure Fund will provide R100bn in catalytic finance over the next decade, leveraging as much as R1 trillion in new investment for strategic infrastructure projects.
Ramaphosa said their second priority intervention was to rapidly expand energy generation capacity.
"We are accelerating the implementation of the Integrated Resource Plan to provide a substantial increase in the contribution of renewable energy sources, battery storage and gas technology.
"This should bring around 11,800 MW of new generation capacity into the system by 2022. More than half of this energy will be generated from renewable sources.".
He said in the immediate term, agreements will be finalised with Independent Power Producers to connect over 2,000 MW of additional capacity from existing projects by June 2021.
The current regulatory framework will be adapted to facilitate new generation projects while protecting the integrity of the national grid. Applications for own-use generation projects are being urgently fast-tracked.
Ramaphosa also said the work of restructuring Eskom into separate entities for generation, transmission and distribution continued and would enhance competition and ensure the sustainability of independent power producers going forward.
"To achieve this, a long-term solution to Eskom’s debt burden will be finalised, building on the Social Compact on Energy Security recently agreed to by social partners.
"Through these measures, we aim to achieve sufficient, secure and reliable energy supply within two years."
The president also said the third key intervention was an employment stimulus to create jobs and support livelihoods.
"We have committed R100 billion over the next three years to create jobs through public and social employment as the labour market recovers.
"This starts now, with over 800,000 employment opportunities created in the months ahead."
He also the traditional forms of public employment were being scaled up and new forms of public employment created to meet the immediate need.
"We are going to expand our natural resource management programmes such as Working on Fire and Working for Water.
"We are going to create 300,000 opportunities for young people to be engaged as education and school assistants at schools throughout the country, to help teachers with basic and routine work so that more time is spent on teaching and enabling learners to catch up from time lost because of Covid," Ramaphosa said.
He also said more than 60,000 jobs would be created for labour-intensive maintenance and construction of municipal infrastructure and rural roads.
"To support our healthcare system an additional 6,000 community health workers and nursing assistants will be deployed as we proceed with the implementation of National Health Insurance."