Home News R3.1 billion space hub on cards for NC

R3.1 billion space hub on cards for NC

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Northern Cape Premier Dr Zamani Saul has outlined a number of infrastructure projects, including an ambitious R3.1 billion space hub, that will be built to address unemployment and rescue the local economy.

Northern Cape Premier Dr Zamani Saul. File picture: Supplied

NORTHERN Cape Premier Dr Zamani Saul has outlined a number of infrastructure projects, including an ambitious R3.1 billion space hub, that will be built to address unemployment and rescue the local economy.

Speaking at the provincial infrastructure summit at the Mittah Seperepere Convention Centre in Kimberley, Saul indicated that the government, private and labour sectors in the Province aim to overcome the “stranglehold” placed on the economy during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Our immediate goal is to resuscitate the economy through investment and development. Infrastructure development can no longer be left to the government alone. The private sector must be encouraged to participate in all aspects of infrastructure development,” said Saul.

He stated that to date R2 billion had been invested in infrastructure while the government intended to invest an additional R11.3 billion over the next three years.

“Taking into account the massive infrastructure challenges in the Province, this amount is inadequate,” he pointed out.

Saul announced that R3.1 billion would be invested in the construction of a new space infrastructure hub.

“The South African National Space Agency has secured R4.47 billion in funding as part of the South African government’s plan to boost economic growth through infrastructure development.”

He added that the Hydrogen Epoch of Reionization Array (HERA) radio telescope is being built at the Square Kilometre Array site near Carnarvon in the Northern Cape.

“It will be the most sensitive radio telescope built … to look as far back as 13.5 billion years.

Saul pointed out that the Province was home to three solar generation plants.

“Climate Investment Funds has invested close to US$100 million in these plants that operate through agreements between private firms and Eskom. With a combined capacity of 250 megawatts, the plants will keep nearly 750 000 metric tons of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere every year, equivalent to almost 320 million litres of gasoline. Energy infrastructure and renewable energy are critical for economic growth in the Province.”

He believed that the beneficiation of diamonds, precious metals and minerals, semi-precious stones, zinc, lead and manganese, verdite and fluorspar would create long-term benefits from the Province’s mineral endowment.

“The Kimberley International Diamond and Jewellery Academy infrastructure development remains an imperative for mineral development in the region, especially rail capacity for bulk minerals.”

He stated that the Province was continuing with plans to develop a deep-water port at Boegoebaai.

“Investments are mainly focused on infrastructure development in ports, marine manufacturing, boat building, aquaculture, scientific and seismic surveys and coastal and marine tourism.

“The De Aar freight hub, the Logistic Park, will create an environment for job creation focusing on warehousing, customs clearance, packaging services, freight forwarders and transport and drivers services. It will furthermore increase the provincial freight efficiency.”

Saul added that the revitalisation of the Douglas-Belmont railway line would cover a network of 20 500 kilometres that connects ports and rail networks of neighbouring countries.

“The balance of infrastructure rehabilitation of the approximately 44 kilometres of railway line and the maintenance provides job opportunities. This is made possible through a public-private partnership with Transnet.”

He said the Sishen-Saldanha ore export railway line was one of the mechanical wonders of the world.

“The line extends 860 kilometres and the trains sometimes extend beyond 3 500 metres and carry a load exceeding 41 000 tons. The Airports Company of South Africa is in the process of developing a business case to bring the Upington cargo hub project to fruition.”