There is a definite move by the Gauteng provincial administration, led by Premier David Makhura, to more fully integrate the capital, ingenuity and skill of the private sector into its programme to “transform, modernise and reindustrialise” the country’s smallest, yet richest, province.
Over and over again in his recent State of the Province address, Makhura emphasised partnerships with the private sector in areas as diverse as electricity supply and property development, through to logistics and broadband infrastructure. Transformative partnerships between the private and public sectors, the Premier argued, would be key to addressing the developmental challenges outlined in the National Development Plan, as well as the structural problems constraining growth and development in the province.
Many of the prospective partnerships have been aligned with the five ‘development corridors’ being established to entrench and enhance the “comparative advantages” of the various subregions across Gauteng. For instance, the central corridor, which is anchored around the City of Johannesburg, is already a financial services hub for South Africa and parts of Africa and the aspiration is to not only enhance that position, but also expand other services sectors, as well as the information and communication technology (ICT) and pharmaceuticals industries.
In the eastern corridor, meanwhile, there is a desire to leverage the OR Tambo Airport asset more fully, while enhancing the territory’s status as the country’s main manufacturing centre. There are similar plans to tease out the advantages of the other parts of the so-called City Region, from automotive manufacturing in the north to agro- processing in the west and tourism in the southern corridor, through which the Vaal river flows.
The province also aims to attract private investment into economic infrastructure, using the Gauteng Infrastructure Financing Agency (GIFA) as a vehicle through which alternative funding for strategic investments will be sourced.
In the coming fiscal year, the GIFA reportedly plans to engage with the private sector and development-funding agencies on what Finance MEC Barbara Creecy dubs “game changer projects”. A request for proposals for a roof-top solar project has already been issued and Creecy reports that a tender will follow shortly for Gauteng’s trigeneration power projects.
The other projects likely to be pursued in partnership include the Sedibeng/West Rand waste-to-energy venture and the City of Johannesburg waste-technology project; freight and logistics hubs in the Vaal, West Rand and Rosslyn areas; the Gauteng ICT Smart City project near Soweto; the Jewellery Manufacturing Precinct in Ekurhuleni; and the Kopanong Precinct and Gauteng Planning House developments.
Makhura has also announced the establishment of the Gauteng Infrastructure Coordination Commission, which will be responsible for the coordination of infrastructure developments and investment programmes across the City Region.
If he and his administration are able to follow through and can avoid the affordability pitfalls that have befallen e-tolling in the province, there could indeed be some very interesting public-private development progress in the years ahead.