Constructing Future Growth Opportunities: The Potential to develop an Intensive Civil Engineering and Construction Works Exports Strategy

by LOWITT, S, 2008
Research Report, Employment Growth & Development Initiative, Human Sciences Research Council

Lowitt assesses the economic contribution of South Africa’s civil engineering and construction works sector through both domestic and export activity. She then compares the domestic sector and government’s approach to export activity with those of other developing countries. The idea of using external demand to grow a domestic construction sector is not new, and international literature on this topic is innovative and substantial. The literature and international experience suggest that South Africa has not historically followed international practices. The paper considers lessons for South Africa, on-the-ground constraints to increased exports, and possible steps to ameliorate these constraints. The next part of the paper deals with the dynamics of the construction sector in developed and developing countries. Lowitt identifies why countries adopt strong export strategies and how the export market has changed over the last 20 years. She then considers the South African civil engineering and construction works sector, looking at domestic demand and supply, sectoral linkages, and various multipliers. This is followed by an analysis of the country’s construction exports. The next section considers the correlation between the type of exports and the benefits to the domestic economy, showing that not all exports are equal and that export multipliers vary. The final section considers the obstacles to increased export activity.