The National Development Plan and the New Growth Path both highlight the need for public and private investment in electricity, water, transport and telecommunications infrastructure in order to support economic growth and social development goals. These investments in infrastructure pipelines will remove critical bottlenecks and allow the economy and employment to grow at a more rapid pace. Whilst the benefits of major infrastructure development give construction jobs a boost in the short run, the real value of infrastructure projects lie in the economic and social returns they enable over the long run.
There is growing recognition of the transformative impact of large infrastructure projects, provided these are done extremely well. As noted from the 2010 World Cup experience in South Africa the intention to host the World Cup subscribed to the common assumptions about mega-event effects: enabling place-promotion to strengthen foreign direct investment (FDI) and the tourism sector; with the goal of stoking economic growth and creating jobs.
Given the pivotal role of infrastructure in driving a new growth path alongside the recognition that there are gaps in state capacity for infrastructure delivery, government has established several institutions to strength state capacity for infrastructure delivery including the establishment of the Presidential Infrastructure Coordination Commission (PICC) that is responsible for the coordination and oversight over the implementation of strategic infrastructure projects (SIPS). The SIPs are expected to contribute significantly to meeting the job-creation targets of five million jobs by 2020 (NGP) and 11 million jobs by 2030 (NDP).
In the current constrained economic climate with increased youth unemployment, it is critical that all public infrastructure investment should be able to translate into sustainable economic development with a big employment impact. Given the structural problems shaping the economy, however, public infrastructure programmes cannot be the “silver bullet” to reducing poverty, inequality and unemployment and generating economic growth across all sectors.
This dialogue will look at the policy choices and financial imperatives involved in the planning and delivery of public infrastructure in the context of South Africa’s jobs crisis. The dialogue will explore employment options through the lifecycle of public assets and what role government, business, infrastructure funders, owners and regulators can do to maximise sustainable employment both in and through infrastructure.
- DBSA- state of SA’s economic infrastructure?
- IDC- unlocking development financing for industrial infrastructure development?
- SACN- Public Employment Prospects?
- NBI: Employment in an economic transition?