South Africa’s massive infrastructure development programme will open up opportunities for the country’s black industrial class to grow, Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba said at a business breakfast hosted by the Black Management Forum (BMF) in Bloemfontein on Thursday.
Gigaba, focusing on the development of the Durban-Free State-Gauteng Logistics and Industrial Corridor – also known as Strategic Integrated Project II (SIP2) – said the project, on which R205-billion would be invested over the next five years, would improve access to Durban’s export and import facilities.
Industry in the Free State province would also be integrated into the corridor, cargo nodes would be built in Harrismith, Cato Ridge, Tambo Springs and the Dube Trade Port, and existing cargo nodes like City Deep and Pyramid would be further upgraded.
At the same time, rail capacity between Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal would be expanded and rolling stock increased to meet forecast growth in demand from 67-million tonnes per annum to 167-million tonnes by 2037.
“This presents an opportunity for black business to explore both downstream and upstream initiatives, high value-added goods and growth sectors in the infrastructure value chain like cement plants, stone mining and others.”
Gigaba said the government was committed to supporting black industrialists that were ready, able and willing to put in the hard work needed to create sustainable, job creating and skill developing inclusive wealth.
“No economy creates a new class of industrialists without hard work. We expect the same from black business, so that they become true entrepreneurs and not mere middlemen.”
As South Africa celebrated 20 years of democracy, it was necessary, Gigaba said, to ensure that those who were previously excluded from the economy now had a better life.
South Africa had always lagged behind compared to its emerging economy peers due to inadequate economic infrastructure to facilitate trade, and the government-led infrastructure programme was intended to transform the economy and stimulate growth, he said.
The International Monetary Fund has predicted that South Africa’s economy will grow by 2.8% this year and 3.3% next year, driven by exports.
“While this signals positive projections, it is not suitable for South Africa to build its economy on an export-led strategy [alone],” Gigaba said. “We must anchor our economy also on domestic consumption. This infrastructure investment will contribute to that objective.”