Large-scale infrastructure investment is widely touted as the tried and tested way to boost economies in the short term and provide wide societal beneﬁts in the long term. South Africa, with a significant portion of the population unemployed and largely excluded from the labour market, needs industrialisation and infrastructure development to support its efforts to bolster employment and reduce poverty. Infrastructure development therefore remains crucial to unlocking value and growth in the country. It is also pivotal to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals as set in 2015 by the United Nations General Assembly, which aim to, inter alia, end poverty, address climate change and ensure prosperity for all.
The Infrastructure Fund announced by South African President Ramaphosa in 2018, addresses the need for blended finance to enable the efficient execution of socio-economic infrastructure programmes and projects in South Africa. The aim of the Infrastructure Fund is to transform public infrastructure through bespoke blended financing solutions by sourcing and blending capital from the private sector, institutional investors, development finance institutions and multilateral development banks.
The Infrastructure Fund is currently housed within the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA). The Infrastructure Fund’s mandate has been captured in a tripartite Memorandum of Agreement signed in August 2020 by National Treasury, the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure: Infrastructure South Africa (ISA) and the DBSA.
The Infrastructure Fund in collaboration with its key stakeholders, National Treasury, ISA and the project owners, intends to spearhead the efficient execution and implementation of South Africa’s infrastructure development programme in line with principles of good governance and procurement systems that are fair, equitable, cost effective, competitive, and transparent.
Access to affordable and sustainable socio-economic infrastructure that promotes inclusive economic growth and job creation.
To be the centre of excellence in blended finance solutions and a sustainable vehicle for infrastructure implementation in South Africa.
National Treasury Commitment
The Infrastructure Fund has been seed funded by the National Treasury in the amount of R100billion over a ten-year period. The contribution is intended to be key to the structuring of blended finance solutions. This seed funding is targeted at catalysing one trillion Rands of infrastructure delivery within the country. In the 2021 Budget, National Treasury has allocated a total of R18billion over the next 3-year cycle as follows 2021/22: R4billion, 2022/23: R6billion and 2023/24: R8billion.
Blended finance solutions are intended to address market failures to improve the risk profile of infrastructure project bankability. The Infrastructure Fund will structure bespoke blended finance solutions by playing a pivotal role across the following value chain: project identification, design and conceptualisation, preparation, structuring, budgeting, financing, procurement and implementation. This will be done by managing appropriate financing structures and sources of revenue.
Interest rate guarantees.
Financial delivery mechanisms.
Incentives for the projects.
Where appropriate, the Infrastructure Fund will also arrange, coordinate, structure and engage with financial institutions and the markets to develop financial instruments that will enable investments in the projects by investors.
The objectives for the Infrastructure Fund are to:
- Contribute to fixed capital formation in line with the requirements of the National Development Plan.
- Create a sustainable infrastructure development ecosystem.
- Accelerate and scale-up catalytic infrastructure development and implementation by supporting project owners.
- Address market failures to improve bankability through innovative structured solutions.
- Maximize participation by the private sector, institutional investors, development finance institutions and multilateral development banks.
- Alleviate pressure on the fiscus via the implementation of infrastructure.
- Unlock additional developmental impact such as job creation, reduction of inequality and poverty.
Eligible Projects and Programmes
All eligible projects and programmes will be subject to approval by ISA on the basis of its eligibility process and criterion. Projects will be required to meet the country’s developmental objectives, which are aligned with the national strategic priorities. These strategic priorities strive for inclusive economic growth, job creation, social and environmental impact, and spatial reconfiguration as stipulated in the National Development Plan. The sectors eligible for consideration will include:
- Social infrastructure such as housing, education, healthcare, student housing, water and sanitation, etc.
- Economic infrastructure which includes energy, information and communications technology (ICT), transport, water, bulk logistics, environment, primary and secondary agriculture.
- Strategic sectors as determined by Government.
Additional criteria that will be considered for eligible projects will include blended finance characteristics, time to Financial Close, viability (technical, legal, environmental, social, regulatory), development impact, economic transformation and catalytic characteristics.
The Infrastructure pipeline will assess and review against the eligibility criteria aligned with the SIDS methodology by Infrastructure South Africa (within the Presidency). The projects will be categorised according to the appropriate investment channel, i.e. social projects, commercial projects and blended finance projects. Projects that are potentially suited for blended financing solutions are channelled to the IF.
Project Implementation and Monitoring
The fund will monitor and drive the means of running the projects through the planning stage until financial closure. The IF will also monitor the implementation of blended financing mechanisms for the projects.