June 23, 2020 / 4:06 PM / 9 days ago

South Africa sees investors putting billions into infrastructure drive

JOHANNESBURG, June 23 (Reuters) - Investors have made firm commitments to put tens of billions of rand into projects that South Africa’s government hopes will drive an economic recovery from the coronavirus crisis, a senior official said on Tuesday.

South Africa is facing a steep economic contraction this year after the government imposed a strict lockdown to contain the virus, and a global economic slowdown has hurt demand for its exports.

Officials held an infrastructure symposium on Tuesday to showcase 276 projects to investors from sectors including energy, transport, housing, water and sanitation, agriculture and digital technologies that they hope will raise the potential economic growth rate and create jobs.

“I can say to you with a degree of confidence that we have received firm commitments on a number of those,” said Kgosientsho Ramokgopa, head of the presidency’s investment and infrastructure office. “I can say to you that it runs into tens of billions of rands.”

Leslie Maasdorp, chief financial officer of the New Development Bank (NDB) of the BRICS countries, said the bank was hoping to tap into the green bond market in South Africa and had registered a 10 billion rand ($581 million) bond programme with the Johannesburg bourse.

The NDB last week approved a $1 billion loan to help South African fight COVID-19.

Maasdorp said the country could access a further $1 billion this year as part of $10 billion the NDB had set aside for its five member states - which also include Brazil, Russia, India and China - for emergency assistance.

$1 = 17.2 rand Reporting by Alexander Winning; Editing by Angus MacSwan

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