• December 21, 2009

The public-private partnership behind a new campus for South Africa’s Department of Industry and Trade is a social and political groundbreaker. The campus is the first new construction under the auspices of South Africa’s new government and the first project guided by the Public Finance Management Act, particularly Chapter 16 governing public-private partnerships. As a pilot project, the campus demonstrates the virtues of public-private collaboration and is both the instrument and symbol of the transformation of public service in South Africa.

Construction involves more than 50,000 square meters of office development in 7 new buildings, a full-site super basement of 40,000 square meters, and acquisition and renovation of three buildings. All risk is borne by the private sector and all parties are confident that 1,000 DTI staff will be able to move onto the campus in April 2004. DTI’s Public-Private Partnership Management Unit recently moved into Mahube House, one of the renovated buildings overlooking the site. Expected to invigorate the historic inner city neighborhood of Sunnyside, the campus has already spawned three developments directly across the street and the ring-fenced Nelson Mandela Revitalization Corridor. Two other institutions, having adopted DTI’s model, are planning to build 100,000 square meters of offices under a public-private partnership in the City of Tshwane.

Underlying this success is the work of USAID’s SEGA project, which sponsored a robust public-private partnership policy and creation of a National Treasury unit to promote and regulate partnerships. DTI campus construction has been the means for testing and refining policy. Thanks to the pilot project, future partnerships will be easier to market, implement, and make productive.

With the private sector now handling the “bricks and mortar” aspect of campus construction, DTI’s Director General has asked Nathan Associates’ Peter Aborn to help ensure that the socioeconomic goals for the campus are reached.

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