South Africa has received "firm commitment" running into billions of rands for some of the 276 infrastructure projects that the president's investment envoys presented to investors around the globe in the past five months.
The president was speaking at the inaugural Sustainable Infrastructure Development Symposium of SA.
Like many other advanced and emerging countries around the world who are looking at infrastructure as a springboard to recover from the economic slump caused by the virus, the virus has made infrastructure investment more compelling and urgent for SA, said Ramaphosa.
And while investment in infrastructure development fell before the pandemic, SA has now placed it at the centre of its stimulus plan.
"Infrastructure investment provides both short- and long-term economic benefits. In the short term, it creates jobs and economic activity as roads, bridges, hospitals, schools, power plants and much else are built. It gets construction and related services companies back to work, inducing them to hire staff and expand capacity," he said.
He said the country is not looking at simply revive its construction sector, but will rapidly increase the scale of its infrastructure investments. To make this possible, government is looking at introducing stimulus packages that will boost government’s infrastructure spending. These include creating financing instruments such as bridge financing, debt restructuring instruments as well as guarantee products and funds, he said.
Breaking ground soon
"Shovel-ready" projects that have been fully developed in energy, healthcare, water, transport and ICT infrastructure will be prioritized and the President wants to see "ground being broken as soon as possible" and make sure that this won't be just another talk shop.
These sectors were chosen because they have proven to have superior multiplier effects and have greater capacity to absorb skills readily available in the economy. But agriculture and agro-processing will also be prioritised because of the sector's employment absorption capacity. Integrated human settlements will also be part of SIDS.
Ramaphosa said through the implementation of SIDS projects, government intends to pursue "ambitious transformation targets".
"We will use this programme to support black infrastructure service providers in much the same way as we have supported the emergence of black industrialists. This is an industry which needs to be transformed, in terms of ownership, participation, capabilities and skills," he added.
The symposium is still underway and Ramaphosa and his envoy will be engaging more potential investors in the hope to get funding for the remainder of the 276 projects that have not yet secured firm funding commitments.