ECDC to tackle R2bn infrastructure upgrade

Cindy Preller

THE Eastern Cape Development Corporation (ECDC) has been given the additional task of speeding up infrastructure upgrade projects in the province worth R2-billion over the next five years.

This is according to ECDC chief financial officer Sandile Sentwa, who yesterday shared the corporation’s results for the 2012-13 financial year with stakeholders in the region.

Sentwa said the provincial government recently gave the ECDC an additional R300-million to upgrade target areas in the province’s ailing infrastructure across all the departments for the 2013-14 financial year.

“This is a further sign of confidence in the ECDC’s capabilities. The provincial government had identified infrastructure problems during their roadshows and asked us to prioritise and fast-track these infrastructure upgrades,” Sentwa said.

Additional engineering, project management and procurement staff would be hired to manage the ECDC infrastructure upgrade programme.

Sentwa said the ECDC would need R500-million in funding from the provincial government for the next financial year, while it would also aim to raise half-a-billion rand itself.

The 2012-13 financial year had been a “great platform” for addressing the concept of sustainability and he was working on a viability model for the ECDC over the next 10 years.

The challenge for him as ECDC chief financial officer was to balance its developmental mandate with its financial sustainability, he said.

“As a developmental financial institution we need to develop new industries and by its nature this involves taking risks. Our mandate is to create new industries and employment. We want to create industrialists, not tenderpreneurs.”

ECDC chief economist Mxolisi Lindie said it was important for the ECDC to make sure it was feasible in fulfilling its commercial mandate while giving risk capital to address social economic development. One of its strategies to achieve this, going forward, would be to sell off some of its residential properties in the Eastern Cape, instead of having 47% of its assets tied up in properties.

The ECDC owns about 30% of domestic properties in Mthatha and Butterworth but because of the bad return on rental income, they had become “non-core and non-performing assets” and would be sold.

The ECDC would hold onto its commercial properties, specifically in Dimbaza, despite suffering vandalism at these properties, since growth was expected for this corridor.

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