South Africa: Motlanthe Opening Remarks at Infrastructure Coordinating Commission Conference
17 April 2012
Government of South Africa - 13 April 2012
Opening remarks by Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe, at the Presidential Infrastructure Coordinating Commission (PICC) Provincial and Local Government Conference, Ekurhulen
Premiers and MECs;
Mayors and councillors;
Senior Government officials from all spheres; and
Senior representatives of State Owned Enterprises:
It gives me great pleasure to welcome you to this first Presidential Infrastructure Coordinating Commission (PICC) Conference of the three spheres of government, to discuss a topic of critical importance to the nation, namely our Infrastructure Plan.
Almost 18 months ago, Cabinet adopted the New Growth Path as the framework to drive our jobs vision for the country, rebuild and strengthen the economy after the recession caused by the global economic crisis, and lay the platform for strong, sustained and inclusive economic growth.
The first jobs driver in the New Growth Path is infrastructure development. Indeed, at the heart of our efforts to ensure effective delivery is to improve both physical infrastructure and human resources.
But we recognised that the pace of infrastructure development was lagging behind what the nation needs. More needed to be done and it needed to be done faster.
Cabinet set up the Presidential Infrastructure Coordinating Commission - the PICC - to bring together representatives of the three spheres, with its membership comprising Cabinet members, Premiers, Metro mayors and South African Local Government Association (SALGA) representatives. The PICC is chaired by the President and in his absence, the Deputy President.
The PICC has smaller operational structures that ensure that the work is done for the full Council to consider.
Minister Gugile Nkwinti chairs the Management Committee of the PICC and Minister Ebrahim Patel chairs the Secretariat responsible for the day-to-day work of the PICC.
Colleagues would know that infrastructure drives growth and development. It lays the foundation on which the industrial activities of the nation take place. The experience of fast-growing economies is that their planning horizon is longer than one electoral cycle and that they invest heavily in infrastructure.
The PICC mandate is therefore to develop a twenty-year infrastructure pipeline, to ensure that we can plan ahead and move away from the stop-start syndrome around the building of infrastructure.
This will allow us to ensure better financial mobilisation, provide greater certainty to the construction industry, give educational institutions a framework around which to plan their skills development strategies, and to provide a roadmap for investors and communities.
The PICC completed a draft Infrastructure Plan which was discussed and refined at the Cabinet Lekgotla in January this year, in conjunction with Premiers and representatives of local government, through SALGA. The outcome of those discussions and the revised Infrastructure Plan formed the basis for the President’s announcement in the State of the Nation Address in February.
The Plan itself is comprehensive and detailed, and today Minister Patel will present a high-level summary of the considerable work that was undertaken by the PICC.
I wish to point to a few key goals we have set ourselves with this plan.
- First, we need infrastructure to unlock economic opportunities and expand investment and jobs in the economy. But we also need to address the spatial imbalances and apartheid patterns of development by ensuring that rural areas are brought into the economic mainstream and that balanced economic development takes place. We therefore also set a range of additional developmental goals that will influence what infrastructure we prioritise.
- Second, we see infrastructure programme as promoting broader industrialisation of the economy, through the use of locally-manufactured components and supplies. In this context too, infrastructure must drive skills formation, particularly in critical areas such as engineers, artisans, technicians and technologists.
- Third, the infrastructure plan needs to include a focus on maintenance, so that we do not only build new assets but also keep the state of the existing infrastructure base in good working order.
- Fourth, infrastructure must help us to integrate African economies so that we can create larger markets and promote deeper intra-regional trade and investment.