South Africa's investment in infrastructure gained momentum in the years leading up to the 2010 soccer world cup and is set to expand as the foundation of a national growth and development strategy. The government adopted a National Infrastructure plan in 2012, which intends to transform the economic landscape while simultaneously creating significant numbers of new jobs strengthening the delivery of basic services. The plan also supports the integration of African economies.
To achieve a sustainable and inclusive growth by 2030, South Africa needs to invest in a strong network of economic infrastructure designed to support the medium and long term objectives.
The National Development Plan (NDP) emphasizes the need for priority investment in cost effective freight transport and urban public transport. The state owned Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa is working to improve the quality and capacity of its commuter rail services. The country's road network requires significant continuous investment to ensure that trade and commuter arteries support a growing economy and efficient movement of goods and people. The Airports Company of South Africa completed its core capital investment programme in 2011.
Water and Sanitation
Section 27 (1) (b) of the constitution provides that "Everyone has the right to have access to sufficient food and water". Water should therefore be viewed first as a right rather than a commodity. South Africa is facing a number of significant challenges in relation to water both at the level of the resources as well as in the actual provision of water services by municipalities.
Recent studies have estimated that demand of water in South Africa will exceed supply by 2025 if nothing is done to supplement current water resources. The 2011 census confirms a large scale expansion of access to water and sanitation. Access to piped water inside dwellings improved from 60.7 per cent in 1996 to 73.4 per cent in 2011.
A sufficient and affordable supply of electricity is needed to sustain economic activity and ensure quality of life for South Africa households. According to the census by 2011, 84.7 per cent of households had access to the electricity grid, compared with 69.7 per cent in 2001. The country's electricity supply constraint will ease as the first power from new coal fired plants becomes available in 2014.
Eskom's capital investment programme is the largest in the public sector. The commissioning of its two large coal fired power plants, Medupi and Kusile, has been delayed by labour unrest, weak contractor performance and skills shortages. The first units of these plants are expected to deliver electricity to the grid in 2014 and 2015.
Information and communication infrastructure is a critical enabler of economic activity in today's world. The 2011 census result show that 64.8 per cent of households do not have access to internet, and that most of those with access are reliant on cellphone connections. Access to internet is still hampered by relatively high costs and undersupply of broadband infrastructure across the country. An improved regulatory environment would allow for expanded access and lower costs across the sector.
Urban Planning, human settlements and Economic Zones
South Africa's urban areas continue to experience strong growth, with 62 per cent of the population living in cities and towns. As a proportion of total households, informal dwellings declined from 16.4 per cent in 2001 to 13.6 per cent in 2011. However, efforts to deliver basic services should be focused where they are most needed. Appropriate changes to the local government infrastructure grant system are under consideration.
All South Africans have the right to a basic education, including adult basic education and further education. According to the bill of rights of the country's constitution, the state has an obligation, through reasonable measures, to progressively make education available and accessible. Government's objective is for all schools to meet minimum infrastructure standards by 2016.