Massive Investments In South Africa’s Infrastructure

South Africa's Katse Dam
Katse Dam is part of South Africa’s energy strategy

AFRICANGLOBE – The South African government will have spent R860-billion on new infrastructure projects in South Africa between 2009 and March this year, President Jacob Zuma said in his 2013 State of the Nation Address.

Addressing both house of Parliament in Cape Town on Thursday evening, Zuma highlighted major milestones in key infrastructure projects crucial to the country’s New Growth Path strategy.

Ports, Dams, Airports, Bridges …

Jacob Zuma said expansion on the port of Ngqura in the Eastern Cape, which he launched last year, was well on the way to developing a major new transhipment hub on the continent. The port is the deepest container terminal in, and will accommodate the new generation of giant container ships traversing Africa’s southern tip.

Experts have said the port and its mega container terminal offer a solution to South Africa’s long-time shortage of container capacity, resulting from the growth in container traffic globally.

Zuma said preparatory work had commenced for the construction of the Umzimvubu Dam, also in the Eastern Cape, which Zuma said was critical for rural livelihoods in the province.

He reported that the upgrading of the Mthatha Airport runway and terminal, and the construction of the Nkosi Dalibhunga Mandela Legacy Road and Bridge, both also in the Eastern Cape, were currently underway.

The bridge is crucial to the Eastern Cape’s wider economic development and will reduce the distance between Mvezo and East London, Mthatha and Idutywa by more than 50 kilometres. The R120-million project will also provide work for more than 300 people.

Zuma outlined progress on work to improve the transportation of iron-ore and open up the west coast of the country, noting that the the first phase of the expansion – increasing the iron ore port capacity at Saldanha to 60-million tons per annum – was completed in September last year.

Construction work is taking place in five cities – Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, Rustenburg, Durban and Tshwane – to integrate different modes of transport.

South Africa’s Renewable Energy Shift

In the energy sector, Zuma said Eskom had put in place 675 kilometres of electricity transmission lines in the last year, to connect fast-growing economic centres and also to bring power to rural areas. More than 200 000 new households were connected to the national electricity grid in 2012.

Also last year, the government signed contracts to the value of R47-billion with independent power producers for 28 wind, solar and small hydro projects to be developed in the Eastern Cape, Western Cape, Northern Cape and Free State.

According to the government’s Integrated Resource Plan – a 20-year projection on electricity supply and demand – about 42% of electricity generated in South Africa will be required to come from renewable resources.

Zuma also announced that over R400-million in investments in green economy projects ha already been approved for municipalities, community organisations and the private sector under the R800-million national green fund that was established last year.

“We have also rolled out 315,000 [state-subsidised] solar water geysers as of January this year, most of which were given to poor households, many of whom had never had running hot water before,” Zuma said.