South Africa's infrastructure programme is driving a wave of industrialisation across the country, says Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel.
Speaking during a parliamentary debate on President Jacob Zuma's State of the Nation Address in Cape Town on Wednesday, Patel said the state-led programme currently "provides jobs to more than 150 000 people across the country, direct jobs, with 43 500 of these jobs in energy-related projects."
New jobs, new skills
Patel cited the example of the cities of Johannesburg and Cape Town, which have introduced new tender conditions requiring local manufacturing of buses. Under the new conditions, 80% of bus bodies are required to be made locally. In the past, buses were simply imported from Brazil.
Close to 250 buses will be made in South Africa as a result of this, creating new jobs and new skills, Patel said.
The Joburg buses will be made at the Marco Polo plant in Gauteng, while the chassis will be made at the Mercedes Benz plant in East London. Busmark is setting up a new factory in Cape Town, with Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) support, to manufacture the city's buses.
Another example, Patel said, was the partnership between the IDC and a local company to secure the contract to manufacture, supply and install an air-cooled condenser system for Eskom's Kusile power station. The contract is valued at R2.4-billion and will create about 750 jobs.
Update on projects under way
Also speaking in Parliament on Tuesday, Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba gave an update on some of the major infrastructure projects under way in the country:
Eskom’s Medupi power plant, part of the project aimed at unlocking South Africa's northern mineral belt, with the Waterberg serving as the catalyst, was now 58% complete, despite recent labour unrest challenges. A total of R60.4-billion had been spent on the project to date, and 15 837 jobs created.
Construction of a new multi-product fuel pipeline, part of the project focusing on the Durban-Free State-Gauteng logistics and industrial corridor, was on schedule. Spending on this project to date totalled R16.9-billion, with 2 490 jobs having been created.
Procurement of new rolling stock, part of a massive upgrade of South Africa's freight rail capacity, was now 73% complete, with spending to date totalling R2.7-billion and 159 jobs having been created. 54% local content in the manufacturing of locomotives had been secured, which would strengthen the country's manufacturing capabilities while creating jobs and developing new skills.
Work on a manganese ore rail line between the Northern Cape and the Port of Ngqura in the Eastern Cape was in the final planning phase. The project aims to increase South Africa's export of manganese from five- to 16-million tons annually.
As part of the project to upgrade South Africa's urban public transport systems, Johannesburg's Rea Vaya project has created 1 185 jobs with a spend to date of R1.218-million, while Cape Town's MyCiti project has created 635 jobs with a spend of R2.923-million.
Gigaba said continued investment spending by public corporations and the broader public sector had contributed positively to economic growth and development, saying it was important not to allow "this massive investment programme to be impacted by the global economic slowdown or derailed by lack of funding".