Public Private Partnerships Key to Infrastructure Development and Urban Mobility

01 March 2022 | “As a regional business community, we welcome Premier Winde’s announcement during his recent State of the Province Address (SOPA) of the establishment of two new departments in the Western Cape – Infrastructure Development and Urban Mobility,” says Ryan Ravens, CEO, Accelerate Cape Town – a business leadership organisation representing top-tier corporate business in the province.

“High-quality infrastructure projects are vital to our economic recovery and key to the development and prosperity of our region due to its multiplier effect on restoring growth, creating new jobs and protecting livelihoods,” stresses Ravens.

The focus on the Western Cape’s mobility and transport sector is as welcomed. “An effective, safe and reliable transport infrastructure – that works – is a basic essential without which, any attempt to restore and build our economy will continue to be fraught with countless challenges,” adds Ravens.

As vital, though, is the role that Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) must play in the resurgence and development of our local and national economy. Government cannot drive an infrastructure agenda in isolation. “For many years, we have advocated that PPPs are a key part of the solution when it comes to addressing South Africa’s infrastructure development needs, with countless strategies demonstrating the business case for private investment in public infrastructure,” continues Ravens.

Government’s key role in building the economy is creating an environment for business to thrive, improving business confidence so that, in turn, business can build and invest – with the obvious knock-on effect of increased job creation. “It is not the work of government to create jobs but, rather, to create an environment that is conducive for investment and development,” stresses Ravens. This, in turn, results in increased job creation with a basic, but much-needed, improvement in the quality of life for all, human respect and dignity – all supported and enabled by an elevated economy.

We need a new era of government and business collaboration, fuelled by a common desire to redress the damage caused to our economy by poor political leadership and the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic – an inclusive economy. This requires a solid and collaborative partnership between business, government, and labour to successfully demonstrate to the local and global investment community that South Africa remains a viable and attractive investment opportunity.

However, the corporate sector does, and always should, operate on a ‘for profit’ basis, as this is demanded by shareholders. Funds are allocated based on a compelling business case for every single investment. For effective PPPs to transpire, government must appreciate what makes investment opportunities attractive and favourable for business and simplify the process of engagement. PPP requirements are incredibly complex and onerous, irrespective of project value, and do not serve to create a favourable environment conducive for local investment and development.

We are therefore encouraged by Premier Windie’s statement that “helping the private sector create jobs will be my government’s obsession. It will animate everything we do.” – Premier Alan Winde, SOPA, February 2022.

The time is now! We have an opportunity now – to rectify and begin to heal the damage of the past, to recover and to rebuild. To set in motion the steps and processes needed to not simply ‘restore’, but to ‘flourish’! “Effective, well thought out and clearly defined PPPs must be included and be allowed to play its part in the re-emergence of this inclusive and thriving economy,” concludes Ravens.

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