It is common cause that South Africa’s public sector, on its own, cannot finance the infrastructure needed to fill backlogs in coverage of basic services for citizens as well as fund social and economic infrastructure to underpin growth. While infrastructure continues to be developed, this investment gap is nevertheless evident wherever one looks from roads to water to higher education. Looking wider, the power infrastructure gap to be filled in Sub Saharan Africa is estimated at 50 billion Dollars a year. Globally the financial resources needed to put the world onto path to reach the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030 is an eye-watering $1.5 trillion per year, just for low and lower-middle-income countries alone.
Approaches that rise to the challenge of mobilising finance for infrastructure investment are evolving rapidly. Well-established principles for development finance aims to (1) draw in private capital and operations that is additive – going beyond what is available; (2) crowd-in funds – mobilse not displace private sector resources; and (3) reinforce rather than distort markets. Now, new approaches are being developed to blend public and private capital with different risk and timing requirements to channel funds to where they are needed. This is spurring innovation in infrastructure financing methods.
This dialogue will explore what is taking place in South Africa to crowd in finance for infrastructure from multiple public and private sources. It will critically look at projects where Government has taken the lead to crowd in private investment and throw light on factors aiding and abetting these efforts by uncovering what is happening, what’s needed and what’s possible with concerted efforts to crowd in investment. Recognizing South Africa’s R2.2 trillion public debt will be more expensive to serve due to the recent credit rating downgrades, the discussion is expected to probe what these developments will mean for financing future infrastructure. In the spirit of the Dialogues, the session will present a spectrum of views from Local through to National Government, the private sector and development finance institutions in the name of helping participants to become ‘smart catalyzers’ of infrastructure investment.
The Infrastructure Dialogues are hosted jointly by the Development Bank of Southern Africa, the South African Cities Network, the National Business Initiative, the Planning Monitoring and Evaluation Department in the Presidency, and the Department of Economic Development, with the Engineering News as Media Sponsor. This will be the 43th Dialogue held since 2009.