Cape Town - The South African government has never claimed to be able to exclusively deliver on its economic programme, but has consistently called upon all stakeholders - including the private sector - to forge mutually beneficial partnerships in pursuit of economic growth and development.
This was the message conveyed on behalf of Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry Bulelani Magwanishe at a recent event of Master Builders South Africa held in Cape Town.
"Through Master Builders South Africa and its associated sister organisations, professionals in the building environment are able to express their views and propose a number of interventions into the economy that seek to advance our economic agenda through a common platform," according to Magwanishe.
"These views and proposals assist us as government to develop insightful, well thought-out policies, plans and programmes, and build confidence and strong collaboration amongst ourselves."
To this end, infrastructure serves as a catalyst for promoting trade and investment by providing the means through which the production and physical movement of goods and services can occur, from where they are produced to where they are needed, in exchange for an economic gain.
As a result, infrastructure in sectors such as transport, energy, water and telecommunications has been prioritised, with progress being realised, according to Magwanishe.
"In the case of South Africa, infrastructure - or the lack thereof - was also used to marginalise the black majority to the periphery of the economy, which has resulted in an extremely inequitable society characterised by high levels of unemployment, poverty and gross underdevelopment.
"This demonstrates the power of infrastructure as a tool for 'growth and development' or a weapon for 'marginalisation'," said Magwanishe.
"While inadequate infrastructure may be the single biggest threat to Africa's long-term growth, at the same time it also represents significant opportunities for the construction industry which can provide the physical infrastructure assets such as ports, railway lines, toll roads, power stations, hospitals and broadband ICT."
However, Magwanishe said transformation remains a challenge in South Africa as the value chain consists of a small industrial base which is not representative of the demographics of the country.
Greater effort is, therefore, required in addressing this issue which is hindering the construction industry's ability to fulfil its true potential.
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