Mayor Tau, who is also the Gauteng chairman of the South African Local Government Association, was speaking on the first day of the two-day conference during a plenary panel discussion on raising capital and project financing.
Local government, he said, played a critical role in the development and maintenance of infrastructure and was the largest provider of sanitation, water services, roads and information technology and communications broadband.
"The balance sheet of municipalities in Gauteng stands at R157-billion, total borrowing is at R32-billion, and Johannesburg boasts the largest municipal bond. High levels of migration to Gauteng call for innovative ways of investment to meet rising infrastructure needs. That's why we are talking to, among others, the World Bank."
In January, the City of Joburg partnered with the Paris-based Global Fund for Cities' Development in hosting a three-day Innovation in Financing South Africa's Cities conference.
The conference, Mayor Tau said, had explored how "pooled financing mechanisms" could help African cities create alternative funding sources for infrastructure development, which was central to unlocking economic development.
He said the Gauteng Infrastructure Investment Conference was the right platform for bringing together experts from the public and private sectors to take this discussion forward.
PRIVATE SECTOR URGED TO COME TO THE PARTY
Earlier, Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe told the conference that Gauteng needed to get its ducks in a row over its infrastructure investment in order to meet national development goals and enhance investor confidence.
"We must search for every bit of innovation and make all the necessary investments to enable the province to increase its productivity and produce more in every human endeavour," Minister Radebe said.
"Gauteng has the potential not only to maintain its position as the economic engine of South Africa, but also the ability to expand its economic and social contribution beyond our borders. This requires constant and targeted investment by both public and private sectors, especially in physical infrastructure."
Gauteng Premier David Makhura, meanwhile, emphasised the importance of infrastructure for accelerating economic growth in the province. Urging business to come to the party, he said Gauteng would require R1.67-trillion in infrastructure investment over the next 15 years, and that the government could not raise it alone.
Over the next three years, Gauteng, together with its metros, would spend more than R94-billion on social and economic infrastructure projects. However, the Premier said, this was still not enough to meet the province's infrastructure needs.
"The elephant in the room is raising business confidence to unlock private sector skills and resources. Building meaningful partnerships with the private sector is not a luxury. The private sector remains the mainstay of fixed investment in the Gauteng economy, accounting for 80% of gross fixed capital formation at the moment."