There was a sharp fall off in new investment plans in 2009, with only 52 new projects worth around 54 billion rand announced, one of the weakest years on record and down from 103 projects worth an estimated 157 billion rand in 2008, Nedbank's Capital Expenditure Project Listing report shows.

Nedbank said the impact of the worst global recession since 1945 is clearly visible in recent capital expenditure trends. Most companies trimmed capital expenditure plans dramatically in late 2008 and throughout 2009 as both exports and local sales contracted sharply following the onset of recession in late 2008.

Nedbank added that the weak overall investment picture is broad-based, with sharp drops in new capital projects recorded in both the private and public sectors.

The breakdown by sectors shows that the bulk of new projects came from the 'finance, real estate and business services' industry, with 20.6 billion rand worth of projects. However, this is still down from the 54.4 billion rand worth of projects recorded in 2008.

The big projects include the 9.5 billion rand Fisantekraal housing development project in the Western Cape, the 4 billion rand second phase of the Cosmo City housing project in Johannesburg as well as the 1.5 billion rand first phase of the Cornubia mixed-use development to be undertaken in Kwazulu Natal.

Although the number of projects announced in the 'electricity, gas and water' industry declined to 17 in 2009 from 34 in 2008, the monetary value of the projects remained unchanged from the 2008 levels at 13.5 billion rand, contributing 26.5% to total value of all projects.

The new projects include a 10 billion rand water augmentation project in Limpopo, as well as various projects involving the construction of electricity generating facilities and wind farms intended to reduce the dependence on Eskom for power supply.

One of the electricity generation facilities, the Coega Wind Farm Project, which will be constructed in the Coega Industrial Development Zone, involves the installation of 25 wind turbines at a total cost of 1.2 billion rand.

A 70 megawatt wind farm worth 800 million rand is also planned for the Western Cape, while a 255 million rand 13.7 megawatt facility will be developed in the North West Province.

Investment plans by the mining sector contacted sharply, with only six new

projects worth 7.5 billion rand recorded in 2009, down from 14 projects worth 23.1 billion rand in 2008. Some of the projects include the 3 billion rand Vele Coal Project as well as AngloGold Ashanti's new 2 billion rand mine project in the North West (Kopanong).

The manufacturing sector was particularly hard hit by the global recession and the fall in local consumer demand. Consequently, only five new projects worth 2.4 billion

rand were recorded in 2009, and that is the smallest number and value of projects recorded since our schedule began in 1993.

The biggest project recorded in this sector in 2009 remains Consol's 1.9 billion rand greenfield factory in Gauteng, announced in the first half of the year.

General government announced 11 new projects worth 18.8 billion rand in 2009, down from 18 projects worth 40.2 billion rand in 2008. Public corporations did not announce any new projects in 2009.

However, Transnet indicated that it will proceed with its 80 billion rand five-year expenditure plan as scheduled. In contrast, Eskom announced that it will place some of its major projects on hold due to the lack of funding.