Top ongoing mega projects in South Africa: South Africa is one of the largest construction markets in Africa and it also boasts some of the largest/mega projects not only in the continent but also in the entire world. Yes, you read that right.
Let us find out some of the projects that have gained international recognition from our list of the top ongoing mega projects in the South African country.
Nkuna Smart City Project
Nkuna City is a smart city project under development on 119 hectares piece of land located at Nkuzana hamlet, near the town of Elim in Limpopo, the northernmost province of South Africa. The city is set to have facilities for industries, shopping centers, value retail, residential, business site, hotel with conference facilities, intermodal facilities, medical, educational, and sports facilities.
The project is developed by the Masingita Group of Companies, which is a leader in large-scale retail property development in the South African country. Nkuna City is reportedly the fourth post-apartheid city to be developed after Lanseria Smart Metropolis, Mooikloof Mega City, and Durban Aerotropolis.
However, unlike the others, Nkuna City development, according to Masingita Group, may be the first project of its kind to be led by a black entrepreneur without the involvement of large foreign investors.
MeerKAT telescope_Square Kilometer Array (SKA) project
Located in the Karoo region, near Carnavon in the Northern Cape, South Africa, the MeerKAT telescope expansion project is part of the US $2bn Square Kilometer Array Telescope that is being developed by three countries which are South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand.
South Africa intended to undertake the entire project which is the largest of its kind in the world, in a bid to boost its industrial and technological capacity. However, the country failed to win the whole contract, after the implementing committee handed a portion to the aforementioned countries, which had been competing with South Africa for the project.
Nevertheless, the South African country will develop the largest portion of the project, about 70%, alongside seven other African states—Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, and Zambia—thereby giving a boost to the wider continent and signaling the region’s growing importance.
MeerKAT is an array of 64 radio antennas, each with a diameter of 13.5 meters. It is designed to observe radio waves in the frequency range of 580 MHz to 14.5 GHz. The telescope operates as an interferometer, combining the signals from all the antennas to create a large virtual telescope with a high resolution. MeerKAT’s main science goals include studying cosmic magnetism, the evolution of galaxies, pulsars, black holes, and the early universe. The construction of MeerKAT began in 2014 and was completed in 2018. It is managed by the South African Radio Astronomy Observatory (SARAO).
R573 Moloto Road Rehabilitation Project
Moloto Road Rehabilitation Project is an ongoing upgrade of the R573, a regional route in South Africa that connects Pretoria with Marble Hall via KwaMhlanga and Siyabuswa. The road was dubbed “the Moloto Road” because it passes through Moloto (at the Gauteng-Mpumalanga border).
The project which mainly includes changing certain intersections into roundabouts as well as upgrading the carriageway from Siyabuswa to Marble Hall started in 2016 and is expected to be completed in 2025.
South African National Roads Agency SOC Ltd or SANRAL, the South African parastatal responsible for the management, maintenance, and development of South Africa’s proclaimed National Road network which includes many National and some Provincial and Regional route segments is spearheading the project.
There are also considerations to adding a railway line following the R573 Moloto route.
Lesotho Highlands Water Project (LHWP)
Lesotho Highlands Water Project (LHWP) is the largest bi-national infrastructure project that is being carried out by Lesotho and South Africa through Lesotho Highlands Water Project (LHWP) one of the world’s most successful transboundary water resources management schemes established through a Treaty signed between the Governments of the two South African countries in 1986.
The project which is being carried out in phases involves the construction of an intricate network of tunnels and dams to divert water from the mountains of Lesotho to South Africa. The first phase of the project which was subdivided into 2 subsections is already completed while the second phase is underway. There are also plans for a third phase that will include the construction of the Tsoelike Dam.
Upon completion, the LHWP will have a total of five dams and 200km of tunnels and water transfer facilities between the two countries that will be used to transfer about 2,000 million m³ of water from Lesotho to South Africa every year.
In addition to water transfer, the project incorporates the development of hydropower schemes. The Katse and Mohale dams generate hydroelectric power, which contributes to Lesotho’s energy needs and provides revenue through power exports to South Africa.
While South Africa will mainly get water from the project, her counterpart (Lesotho) will get money and hydroelectricity.
Medupi Power Project
The Medupi power project, the name of which is derived from a Sepedi word that means “gentle rain”, involves the construction of a dry-cooled coal-fired power plant in Lephalale, Limpopo Province.
The station, which will utilize the super-critical boiler technology with increased plant efficiency, reduced coal consumption, and reduced CO2 emissions, will be made up of six units with an installed capacity of 4,764 MW.
These units are planned as direct dry-cooled units such as those at the existing Matimba power station, thereby reducing water consumption requirements in significant ways compared to the wet cooling technology. The project is estimated to cost Euro 11.19 billion.
The implementation of the project, the cost of which is over US$ 12bn, began in May 2008 with the first unit expected to be commissioned by February 2012, and each subsequent unit at an interval of six months. The project will feed into the national electricity grid and the entire country will reap benefits through a reliable power supply that will be developed as part of the project.
Cornubia housing project
Cornubia housing project is a billion-dollar integrated human settlement project located adjacent to Umhlanga, north of Durban. It is a mixed-use development, comprising residential, commercial, and industrial sites. Cornubia is the first proposed sustainable and fully integrated human settlement in the region and has been declared a national priority project.
The US $1.5bn project will be spread over 1 200 ha, with 80 ha earmarked for industrial development and the remainder for commercial, housing, and other social and public facilities that include, schools, clinics, police stations, post offices and multi-purpose halls. Of the 24,000 residential units planned for the development; 15,000 will be low-cost homes.
SA Connect Phase 2
Initially announced in 2013, SA Connect is the government’s nationwide broadband initiative designed to satisfy the National Development Plan’s technological goals of establishing an equitable information society.
Because of the project’s scope, the government decided to undertake it in two stages. In phase one, the initiative planned to connect eight rural district municipalities’ schools, health facilities, government offices, Thusong Service Centres, and post offices to internet services. The State IT Agency previously announced that about 970 government sites had been linked to the internet at 10Mbps speeds.
Plans for the next phase of the project were revealed in 2022, with President Cyril Ramaphosa stating that SA Connect must be hastened in response to the rising demand for South Africans to engage in the digital economy. Cabinet authorized the phase two deployment of SA Connect, stating that it will be carried out by state-owned organizations – SITA, Broadband Infraco, and Sentech – and the industry.
According to Ntshavheni, her department has changed the strategy to include SMMEs and other network service providers, such as internet service providers, to facilitate economic transformation (ISPs).
Upon completion, approximately in 2025, this phase will connect 44 600 government locations, including schools, health institutions, libraries, Thusong Service Centres, and traditional authority offices. It will provide over 33 000 community WiFi and broadband connections to homeowners.
Mzimvubu Water Project
Mzimvubu Water Project involves the construction of a dam at the Ntabelanga site with a storage capacity of 490 million m3, another one at the Lalini site with a storage capacity of 232 million m3; a tunnel and powerhouse at Laleni dam site for generating hydropower, centralized water treatment works at Ntabelanga dam site, bulk water infrastructure to convey water to domestic and irrigated agriculture consumers; and flow gauging stations to measure the inflow and outflow from the dams as well as to monitor the implementation of the Reserve.
The project has been under development since 1962 and was commissioned by the South African Government, through the Department of Water and Sanitation in a bid to harness the water resources of the Mzimvubu or Umzimvubu River, one of the most important and only major river in the country’s Eastern Cape Province and the entire country that is still largely unutilized.
Kusile power station project
Kusile is a coal-fired power station that is being built close to the existing Kendal power station in the Delmas municipal area of the Mpumalanga province. It is the second most advanced coal-fired power plant project for Eskom after the Medupi power station that is being built in Lephalale, Limpopo Province.
The over US $7bn station will consist of six units each rated at approximately 800MW installed capacity giving a total of 4800MW. As such it will be one of the largest coal-fired power stations in the world, once finished. The power station will be coal-fired, with the coal supplied by a new colliery near the power station.
Vista Park Extension 3
Vista Park Extension 3 is a proposed development of 126 Ha piece of land in Bloemfontein, one of South Africa’s three capital cities, and the capital of the Free State province, which is also known as Bloem, into a mixed-use township.
The project involves the construction of a total of 5 320 residential units including 1 596 BNG housing multi-storey units, 1 500 CRU/Social housing multi-storey units, 1 045 FLISP/GAP & rental housing multi-storey units, and 1 179 freestanding open market bonded units.
It also includes the development of 6 business and retail opportunities (mixed-use), 4 crèches, 4 religious sites, 3 schools (Primary and Secondary), 10 parks (active and non-active), and 1 hospital. In addition, the Vista Park Extension 3 project involves the upgrading of bulk and link infrastructure, road, stormwater, sewer, water, and electrical infrastructure construction.
Diverse green efforts involving energy-saving technology such as solar water heaters, heat pumps, enhanced insulation, gas, and recycling projects will be implemented as well as various initiatives such as food gardening and urban greening. Aside from the environmental advantage, these steps will help cut power demand by the development and make the township more socially and visually appealing.