No evidence: Leon Campher, CEO of the Association for Savings and Investment SA, says Irba has provided no firm evidence of widespread lack of independence among major audit firms. Picture: HETTY ZANTMAN
No evidence: Leon Campher, CEO of the Association for Savings and Investment SA, says Irba has provided no firm evidence of widespread lack of independence among major audit firms. Picture: HETTY ZANTMAN

The Association for Savings and Investments SA (Asisa) says that its members will inject more capital into critical infrastructure projects.

Although the projects they will invest in have not yet been identified, the association said it was in talks with the National Treasury and the Development Bank of SA to prioritise them.

In 2017, parliament’s standing committee on finance expressed deep concern about the lack of private-sector investment in the economy.

This came at a time when the Group of 20 Global Infrastructure Hub estimated that SA needed to invest $464bn by 2040 in the water and electricity sectors to plug the country’s infrastructure gap and to tackle the demand that will result from population growth by 2040.

At a breakfast commemorating Asisa’s 10th anniversary, CEO Leon Campher said the industry was "very willing and able" to invest where there were infrastructure gaps, as it did on the renewable energy independent power producers programme (REIPP).

The investment companies and insurers that are part of Asisa committed R150bn to REIPPs and other projects in the past 10 years.

But Asisa acknowledged that more could have been done and now wants to get involved at project level instead of just investing in bonds that facilitate these infrastructure projects.

Listed bonds

"If another vehicle is created, for instance, in the form of listed bonds, more members will come on board," said Campher.

But first the infrastructure building ecosystem had to be fixed, Asisa said.

Of particular concern was the state of the construction industry as a number of companies in the sector had filed for business rescue.

"The construction industry is a critical part of the ecosystem for us to move forward. But we aren’t saying we can’t do anything. We’ve identified a lot of opportunities in education and training under the CEO Initiatives that the government formed after Nenegate. There are a lot of growth nodes to unlock there," said Liberty Holdings CEO David Munro.

Sanlam CEO Ian Kirk said as soon as projects get off the ground, funding will flow.

"If we can collectively pool and channel savings into commercial and semicommercial projects, the government will have more room in the fiscus to tackle the infrastructure projects that are purely social," he said.

buthelezil@businesslive.co.za

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