Construction Sector key in economic recovery
Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB) acting CEO Bongani Dlala says the construction sector can lead South Africa’s recovery as the country emerges into a post-Covid-19 economy, but only if emerging contractors are empowered.
This was the consensus among participants at the “State of the Construction Industry” seminar hosted by the CIDB, in October.
The seminar, attended by more than 700 participants, underscored the role played by the CIDB in facilitating the exchange of ideas and opinions which will lead to the transformation of the construction industry.
In addition to its primary mandate to publicise the contribution of the construction industry to South Africa’s economy and society, the CIDB also provides a platform where participants in the sector can share research on trends within the sector and related best practices.
There were justifiable concerns about the sharp decrease in construction activity following the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.
This was especially felt within the public sector where the CIDB plays a critical role to ensure efficient and effective infrastructure delivery.
However, there is also significant room for optimism. Investment in infrastructure is a key component of the Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa.
The plan calls for “aggressive infrastructure investment” with a strong emphasis on localisation, job creation and streamlining of the regulatory framework.
At the recent Sustainable Infrastructure Development Symposium South Africa – SIDSSA 2021 – details were announced of a pipeline of 55 projects with a project value of R595-billion.
This can create an estimated 583 500 direct and indirect jobs.
Participants at the CIDB seminar strongly advocated that emerging contractors should benefit fully from the pending upswing in building activity and opportunities should be created for them to improve their grading and become increasingly eligible for major projects.
The consensus was that the public sector must, at the same time, significantly improve its capacity to manage infrastructure projects under its control and address long-standing concerns within the industry about delays in the awarding of contracts, delays in the implementation of projects and late payments to contractors.
There are expectations that private sector skills will, increasingly, be drawn in to address issues pertaining to capacity.
Again, the CIDB, with its experience gained over almost two decades, can make valuable contributions to the dialogues and consultations within the industry.
Similarly, there are stronger voices speaking out about endemic corruption and the activities of the so-called ‘construction mafia’ which are delaying vital projects, destroying assets and threatening the lives of contractors and their workers.
One of the participants at the seminar industry body Black Business Council in the Built Environment CEO Gregory Mofokeng emphasised the role construction can play in the reindustrialisation of the economy.