Roelof van den Berg, CEO of the Gap Infrastructure Corporation (GIC). Image credit: Gap Infrastructure Corporation (GIC)

Roelof van den Berg, CEO of the Gap Infrastructure Corporation (GIC). Image credit: Gap Infrastructure Corporation (GIC)

Infrastructure development in rural areas goes beyond meeting basic needs such as water, sanitation, energy, transportation and communication, to include HVAC, refrigeration and more.

To truly improve the quality of life for rural residents, infrastructure projects must also address their air quality, social, recreational and safety needs. This requires a collaborative effort between government and the private sector.

Roelof van den Berg, CEO of the Gap Infrastructure Corporation (GIC), highlights the complementary roles of the public and private sectors. “While the government has an abundance of workers and funding, the private sector brings the technical expertise and project management planning that is often lacking,” he says.

“However, project expectations have evolved over the past few years as government and infrastructure developers collaborate more closely in the interest of broader community transformation, recognising the importance of sound environmental, social and governance initiatives.”

Auxiliary projects play a crucial role in supporting primary infrastructure initiatives and adding value to the community. These projects go beyond the scope of basic service provision to address the unique needs and aspirations of rural residents.

When taking on major projects, such as providing rural communities with water and sewer reticulation, in-home air quality, water connections and meters and widescale roadworks, GIC also searches for smaller auxiliary project options with which to add value to the overall projects and boost the community’s morale.

In the past, for example, as a means to further enhance the project, we have sought to install numerous isolation valves, fire hydrants and precast concrete manholes with heavy-duty covers which directly relate to the primary project,” notes van den Berg.

“These additions to wider infrastructure projects represent the collective commitment of the public and private sectors to pursue improved sustainable community development and the highest safety standards.”

Kickstarting greater auxiliary project delivery

Van den Berg notes that with the goal of improving and increasing auxiliary project delivery in rural communities, both private sector infrastructure developers and government or local municipal entities can take steps to encourage one another and change lives.

Private sector infrastructure developers can suggest to the public sector the following suggestions in their tender phase:

  • Propose the addition of auxiliary projects during the tender application process and showcase how auxiliary projects can improve the overall quality of life for rural residents and contribute to community development. It is also beneficial to showcase examples of successful projects that the developer has implemented in the past, and how these have directly impacted the community.
  • Engage in partnerships and collaborations with other developers and public sector or community partners to better determine local needs, drive local support for auxiliary projects and improve auxiliary project deliverables.

Government and municipalities can:

  • Establish guidelines or policies that mandate the inclusion of auxiliary projects in rural development plans. By making it a requirement, the government can ensure that auxiliary projects receive equal consideration and are integrated accordingly.
  • Provide incentives and funding opportunities for private sector developers that include auxiliary projects in their proposals. This can include tax benefits, grants or subsidies.

“By taking these additional steps and going beyond project requirements, the government will effectively create an enabling environment that encourages private sector investment in auxiliary projects, and in which developers can make a deeper impact in the rural communities they serve, truly transforming lives for the better,” he concludes.