Durban – The Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) will spend close to R1.5 billion over the next five years, building capacity to help local municipalities deliver on capital infrastructure investments.

Jay Naidoo, chairman of the DBSA, announced this after yesterday’s release of results for the past financial year.

He said the development bank’s main focus in that year was on assisting poor municipalities to implement approved projects.

In total, R42.1 million was spent deploying 97 experts in 86 municipalities through the Siyenza Manje (“We Do It Now”) programme, aimed at fast-tracking development in local authorities.

“We deployed retired engineers and project managers to help the municipalities absorb the investments,” said Naidoo.

“These experts were working on close to 500 projects aimed at delivering basic infrastructure.”

He said DBSA would continue to invest on capacity building because it wanted the municipalities to reach a level where they did not rely on government funding.

“We want to address the problem of market failure so that the municipalities can attract other investments. They must build a viable revenue base.”

Last year it was reported that the DBSA was sitting on R172 million in unspent municipal grants because the local entities lacked capacity to implement projects. This year, 1.16 million households had received basic services or had improvements to these services.

Approvals on infrastructure projects rose to R8.3 billion for 163 projects across the Southern African Development Community (SADC). The bank’s total assets grew to R28 billion and the net surplus went up to R1.2 million.

Naidoo said it had exceeded its targets: it had done well on the number of projects approved and the strong balance sheet.

Approvals on projects with black economic empowerment components rose to 38 percent.

In total, 12 black empowerment projects were funded, including the the Gautrain and Neotel.

Multi-country investments grew by 61 percent and total disbursements in the SADC (excluding South Africa) were at R6.4 billion over a 10-year period.

Naidoo said the bank would take on more inter-region projects in the future. The bank wanted to get involved with projects where it partnered with the private sector, so that investment could be made in projects that needed it.