The South African economy remains subdued and the domestic project economy strongly reflects this feeble status. Although the National Treasury is forecasting public-sector infrastructure spending of R947.2-billion over the coming three years, the figure includes a number of megaprojects being built by State-owned companies (SoCs), which are well under way. The SoC’s are projected to invest R432.8-billion over the period and remain a major part of this public-infrastructure story. However, their balance sheets are generally stretched, which has resulted in some entities leaning more heavily than initially expected on their government guarantees. The upshot is that, until these entities stabilise or growth returns, there is little likelihood that they will be in a position to initiate major new projects. The list of major public-sector projects in the planning phase, as published in the Budget Review, also does not suggest an immediate turnaround. In the private sector, meanwhile, the overall weak economic climate is undermining business confidence, which is also being weighed down by policy and political uncertainty. Consequently, private fixed investment remains under pressure. However, the recovery in commodity prices could help stimulate some fresh activity, albeit mostly brownfield in nature. What is certain, is that a material recovery in business confidence will be required if private-sector investment is to return in earnest. Nevertheless, the first edition of the Projects in Progress for this year still includes valuable updates on some of South Africa’s largest infrastructure projects, as well as ongoing investments in the gold, coal and platinum sectors.
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