SONA: mega infrastructure fund, sustainability focus welcomed
02 July 2019 | Web Article Number: ME201915115
CONSULTING Engineers South Africa (CESA) has welcomed President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement during his State of the Nation address of the R100-billion SEED Fund for infrastructure development.
“We are hopeful that between the Development Bank of SA (DBSA) and the new Department of Public Works and Infrastructure (DPW&I) they will ensure that ‘value for money’, fair, transparent and cost-effective decisions will be made to maximize the outcomes being pursued through this seed funding,” said CESA CEO Chris Campbell.
He added that these elements are essential to instill business confidence leading to foreign investor confidence for the further development of both social and economic infrastructure. “Infrastructure is a critical area of investment that supports structural transformation, growth and job creation.”
Campbell said that as the leading body of Consulting Engineering companies in South Africa, comprising over 560 member firms, who employ more than 21000 staff in the consulting engineering sector, CESA was willing to partner with government through the implementation of the National Development Plan.
Ramaphosa’s emphasis in his address on the importance of working towards inclusive, sustainable development has also been welcomed,
Ben Pullen, CEO at Generation.e, an organization promoting electric vehicle adoption, said South Africa now has the opportunity to be at the forefront of green growth and low carbon industrialisation by pioneering new technologies., including safe, reliable, affordable, and sustainable electricity.
“The goal to deliver low cost electricity options is vital and can enhance the efforts to deliver well connected electric railway efforts.” In addition, said Pullen, as the country continues to introduce renewable and affordable electricity generation, the value of electric vehicles for South Africa will increase.
“This is not only essential for sustainability but will also assist in cutting the costs South Africa spends on importing oil - which is currently costing the country approximately $13 billion per annum.” Citing figures from GreenCape, he said that if a million electric vehicles were sold in the country - around two to three years-worth of South Africa’s new vehicle sales - it would reduce oil import costs by around R8 billion.
“This could then be redistributed into building sustainable and healthy renewable energy resources, which would create jobs and keep the money in South African borders. It could also be invested into new or improved rail and bus transport, for example.”
He described the transport sector as “a huge culprit when it comes to polluting the atmosphere and subsequently our cities. It is now more important than ever for South Africa to actively transition towards smarter mobility.”
This, he said, can be done by building on the development of public transport solutions such as the Gautrain and by introducing innovations in vehicle use, such as promoting the use of hybrid or electric vehicles.
“Ultimately the goal would be to work towards creating an environment where vehicles are not needed and instead bikes or scooters can be used, or the vehicles that are used are either electric, hybrid or reduced through car-pooling and ride hailing services.
“To do this, a shift from asset ownership to mobility as a service needs to take place, where the focus is more on mobility getting people from A to B instead of them needing to own a car. As such, a lot more effort needs to go into providing a range of safe, cost effective and sustainable mobility solutions,” Pullen said.