With the Presidential Infrastructure Coordination Committee making progress in overcoming backlogs, South Africa is set to spend R847-billion on new and upgraded infrastructure over the next three years, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan told Parliament on Wednesday.


Tabling his 2014 Budget in Cape Town, Gordhan said the country’s National Development Plan (NDP) calls for investment in infrastructure to ensure that the economy grows at the 5% per annum level needed to make significant progress in creating jobs and reducing poverty.


Gordhan said the Presidential Infrastructure Coordination Committee, set up to co-ordinate the country’s infrastructure build and upgrade programme across all spheres of government and priority sectors of the economy, was making progress in overcoming backlogs.


Gordhan said investment in South Africa’s electricity and transport infrastructure was key. He noted that the first unit of the Medupi power station was expected to be completed towards the end of the year.


“Transnet has increased capacity on its coal line. Plans are in place to further expand the coal, iron ore and manganese lines. The Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa refurbished 500 Metrorail coaches last year, and its new rolling stock procurement programme will get under way this year.”


Gordhan said expenditure on social infrastructure – which includes health, education and community facilities – would increase from R30-billion to R43-billion over the next three years.


He added that priority would be given to programmes aimed at eradicating school infrastructure backlogs and refurbishing clinics and hospitals.


A plan to rehabilitate 35 dams had been completed, he said, while a total of R40-billion in infrastructure grants would be transferred to local governments for their water, sanitation, energy and environmental functions in 2014/15.


“The private sector is also making an increasing contribution to infrastructure investment,” Gordhan noted. “Contracts for 47 renewable energy projects were concluded in 2012 and 2013, many of which are already under construction.


“These will add 2 460 MW of power capacity, and an investment of R70-billion,” he said, adding that a further R45-billion in investment in the sector would be contracted this year.