Hon Chairperson and Members
A well targeted, strategic and access to comprehensive set of basic infrastructure services, is essential to attain social and economic goals and ensure equal opportunity for all people to participate in a country’s economy.
Although numerous laws and policies intended to improve people’s quality of life and promote economic and social transformation were introduced since the dawn of democracy, such have achieved mixed successes and the people are still experiencing unemployment, poverty and inequality.
The negative effects of a crumbling infrastructure are more severe in rural municipalities and communities. This is confirmed by the National Development Plan (NDP) when it diagnosed the differences between urban and rural areas with regard to access to basic infrastructure services, and their quality.
Generally, urban areas are well-serviced in terms of electricity, water and sanitation, information and communication, and transport; while their rural counterparts fall significantly short in these respects.
Rural infrastructure backlogs are a challenge and they also inhibit economic and social inclusion in rural areas.
A proper and deliberate investment into this area, will impact significantly in addressing the triple challenges and would benefit greatly rural areas with regard to addressing poverty and inequality.
In this regard, we want to propose that the house adopt a resolution on the creation of a dedicated Rural Infrastructure Development Fund.
Its primary purpose is to address the inherent backlogs and bring these communities into par with their urban counterparts to an extent that is practically relevant to the rural socio economic development priorities.
The current Municipal Infrastructure Grant (MIG), is limited and favours urban municipalities. Investment into rural infrastructure should inform decisions on how and where to invest towards the most deprived municipalities and citizens.
Rural infrastructure funding should include or emphasise a set of investments on rural roads, water supply and sanitation, energy and telecommunications, and agricultural processing.
The provision of rural infrastructure is an important agent in the reduction of poverty and exclusion, in the strengthening of social capital, and in providing conditions for improving the provision of services.
Rural Infrastructure Development Fund, to be created should not only rely on public purse, but, mobilise private sector to contribute with incentives.
The advantage of creating a dedicate Rural Infrastructure Development Fund will create an opportunity for more focused rural infrastructure development in a more holistic manner.
Finally, Rural Infrastructure Development Funds will be designed to work with communities using a demand – responsive approach. This gives an advantage for integration across sectors while promoting a sense of ownership that contributes to sustainability.