South Africa’s much-anticipated Covid-19 economic recovery plan will be unveiled soon, and infrastructure will play a “key role” in unlocking investment and getting the economy out of the hole it finds itself in.
That’s the word from President Cyril Ramaphosa, who was speaking on Sunday at the launch of JSE-listed Balwin Properties’ multi-billion-rand Mooikloof Mega City development, east of Pretoria. The president did not however give any details on the plan.
“We need to unlock energy in the economy,” he said, citing the new inclusionary housing development as an example of mega infrastructure projects that can help kickstart the country’s economic growth.
A nod to the developer
Light-heartedly dubbing the development “Steve Brookes City” – after the CEO of Balwin Properties – Ramaphosa called for infrastructure to be seriously built up in the country in a more “synchronised manner” together with the private sector.
“Infrastructure [investment] is a key part of the economic recovery plan of the country post Covid-19. It’s no longer about talk … to make our dreams come true, we must move ahead with implementation.
“As I’ve said before, we must ‘Khawuleza’ or hurry up in meeting our people’s needs,” said Ramaphosa.
He added that he is excited to see the Mooikloof Mega City development now moving ahead with some 50 000 sectional title units planned, making it one of the largest developments of residential inclusionary housing in the country.
“Once completed, the Mooikloof Mega City may end up becoming the world’s largest sectional [title] property development, with land also earmarked for schools, shops and offices,” he added.
The president said that the overall Mooikloof Integrated Development has a total project value of over R84 billion and is one of the 62 Strategic Integrated Projects (SIPs) that were gazetted at the end of July.
Balwin’s residential side of the development is touted to be valued at between R30 billion and R44 billion, and will be developed in phases over several years.
The government, through its proposed more than R350 billion infrastructure fund [latest exact figure to be revealed in its economic recovery plan], is investing some R1.4 billion in bulk infrastructure to unlock the Mooikloof development. This includes the expansion of the Garsfontein provincial road, which runs adjacent to the site.
Ramaphosa noted that the Mooikloof development will make a big contribution to inclusionary housing in South Africa, helping to address spatial integration.
Housing for the ‘missing middle’
“This housing development addresses what may be referred to as the ‘missing middle’ – people who earn too much to qualify for fully subsidised housing but who don’t earn enough to afford debt-financed housing in areas of their choice … But by far the most important aspect of this catalytic project is its contribution to inclusionary housing development,” he said.
“We continue to feel the effects of apartheid spatial design in what may be termed the 40/40/40 principle,” said Ramaphosa.
“This means that most people are housed 40 kilometres from employment opportunities, as a result, they spend over 40 minutes travelling to and from work, and spend over 40% of their incomes on transport expenses. In many cases those affected are the poor who live in 40m2 houses,” he added.
Ramaphosa said that the Department of Human Settlements, through the Housing Development Agency, will assist in making it possible for more low-income households to benefit from the Mooikloof development.
“Potential homeowners will also be able to apply for assistance from government’s Finance Linked Individual Subsidy Programme,” he noted.
Ramaphosa hailed the fact that the project is expected to create around 41 000 jobs.
“The success of any future mega housing development rests with public-private sector collaboration. Private sector resources and expertise will aid government’s efforts to meet the housing demand. The public sector can incentivise further investment by providing the necessary bulk infrastructure to enable development,” he said.
“The reality is that the fiscus cannot on its own support the rising housing demand in the country.
“Covid-19 has only worsened an already dire situation. We will be looking at how best to leverage private sector resources and skills to help government deliver its mandate to provide decent housing to our people. Mooikloof is an excellent example [of] how public-private sector interests can be aligned and work for mutual benefit,” he added.
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Speaking at Sunday’s launch, Brookes said Balwin has had “incredible support” from government, in particular from Dr Kgosientso Ramokgopa, who heads up the investment and infrastructure office in the presidency. Ramokgopa is a former mayor of the City of Tshwane.
“We will initially develop, construct and deliver 16 000 green model residential apartments as part of the Mooikloof development, which will be valued at around R10 billion,” he told Moneyweb.
“The first portion will consist of approximately 2 500 apartments with prices ranging from R499 000 to R799 000, which is directly targeted at the gap housing market,” Brookes said.