‘Private sector key to roll-out of priority infrastructure projects’

South Africa’s Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene has emphasised the role of the private sector in delivering the 51 Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (Pida) projects, collectively valued at $68-billion, being prioritised for implementation by 2020.

Speaking at the Infrastructure Consortium for Africa’s (ICA’s) yearly conference, being held in Cape Town, Nene said it “cannot be business as usual” if implementation was to be fast-tracked.

“Integration and development of the African continent will not succeed if we ignore the contribution of the private sector and the citizenry,” he said.

Encouraging greater private sector investment was emerging as a key theme for Nene, who had consistently warned that government could no longer delay efforts to rein in debt and expenditure and that economic growth and development would, thus, depend more heavily on private investment.

African governments, he told the ICA, had limited resources and there was “ample space” for the private sector to participate in the implementation of projects.

The continent’s infrastructure backlog was holding back growth, development and intra-regional trade, with Africa, on average, investing only 4% of its gross domestic product (GDP) in infrastructure – China, by comparison, invested 14% of GDP.

“The benefits of closing the infrastructure gap are very high, with some estimates showing that closing the gap could boost GDP growth by 2 percentage points a year.”