South Africa plans for mass urban migration

South Africa’s urban population is growing larger and younger, and it is envisaged that nearly 80% of the total population will be living in an urban area by 2050.

By 2030 more than 70% of the population will be living in cities putting a strain on infrastructure and the provision of services. (Image: Derek Smith)

Brand South Africa reporter

Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Deputy Minister Andries Nel said this yesterday in the National Assembly, when he briefed the portfolio committee on the draft Integrated Urban Development Framework (IUDF).

“South Africa is urbanising rapidly. The United Nations estimates that 71.3% of South Africa’s population will live in urban areas by 2030, nearly 80% by 2050. South Africa’s urban population is growing larger and younger. Two-thirds of South African youth live in urban areas.”

Cities and large towns produced over 80% of the national gross value added and metros were growing twice as fast as other cities, he explained. Towns had much higher – about 40% – average incomes compared to the country as a whole, while employment grew twice as fast in metros.

“Between 1996 and 2012, metros accounted for 75% of all net jobs created in South Africa. Despite this, ‘urbanisation of poverty’ is increasing, especially in townships, informal settlements and inner cities.

“Urban areas are dynamically linked to rural areas – flows of people, natural and economic resources. Urban and rural areas are becoming increasingly integrated, as a result of better transport, communications and migration,” Nel explained.

Interdependence of rural and urban spaces needed a comprehensive, integrated approach to urban development.

Informal settlements spring up around major cities as people come in search of opportunities. (Image: World Bank)

High concentrations of people, buildings and infrastructure, he added, increased risk to natural disasters, climate change and variability. Reducing urban risk was critical to achieving sustainable urban growth. Safety, particularly in public spaces, was an essential ingredient for the creation of liveable and prosperous cities.

The deputy minister said urban spaces needed to be designed and managed in a way that made citizens feel safe from violence and crime.

“By 2030, South Africa should see reviving rural areas and creating more integrated, balanced and vibrant urban settlements. To achieve this, the country must clarify and relentlessly pursue a national vision for spatial development.”

Integrated Urban Development Framework

The IUDF seeks to unlock the synergy that comes from co-ordinated investments in people and places, as well as marking a new deal for South African cities and towns. It builds on the National Development Plan (NDP) and its vision for urban South Africa.

“We want cities to be inclusive, resilient and liveable,” Nel said. The NDP placed “transforming human settlements and the national space economy” at its centre.

The IUDF aims to guide development of inclusive, resilient and liveable urban settlements. It provides a new approach to urban investment by the developmental state, guiding the private sector and households.

Urban spaces needed to be designed and managed in a way that made citizens feel safe from violence and crime. (Image: Katarzyna Pawelczyk)

Its vision speaks of liveable, safe, efficient cities that are socially integrated, economically inclusive places where residents participate actively in urban life.

Nel said this vision recognised that South Africa had different types of cities and towns, which had different roles and requirements. The vision must be interpreted and pursued in differentiated and locally relevant ways.

To achieve the vision, there were four strategic goals:

    • Access: to ensure people have access to social and economic services, opportunities and choices;
    • Growth: to harness urban dynamism for inclusive, sustainable economic growth and development;
    • Governance: to enhance the capacity of the state and its citizens to work together to achieve social integration; and,
    • Spatial transformation: to forge new spatial forms in settlement, transport, social and economic areas.

Extensive consultations on the IUDF were being undertaken, Nel said, and the final draft would be completed by November.

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