Delegates at the Urban Investment Partnership Conference on Friday August 28 agreed that cities were critical centres of economic activity and that the government needed to fast-track an enabling legislative environment to promote investment targeting urban spaces that advanced inclusive growth in line with the National Development Plan.
The conference, organised by the Ministry of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs and the National Treasury in collaboration with the Development Bank of Southern Africa, also agreed that there needed to be closer links between cities, the government and investors involved in urban development.
The two-day conference, the first of its kind in South Africa, was held at Gallagher Estate in Midrand. It was attended by more than 200 delegates representing a wide spectrum of stakeholders, including South Africa’s eight major municipalities, commercial banks, pension fund managers, insurance companies and academics.
The City of Johannesburg was among the eight major municipalities represented at the conference. Also in attendance were Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Pravin Gordhan and Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene, who both addressed the conference. Two speakers from the German Federal Government gave an international perspective on urban investment partnerships.
The conference heard that whereas it took a person in Moscow 7.7km to travel to work, Tshwane residents had to travel an average of 25km to reach their workplace. Minister Gordhan emphasised the point that townships must be physically integrated into the mainstream of urban economic and social life.
“We cannot continue to place poor people on the outskirts of our cities,” he said.
Delegates also heard that cities faced a 30% annual population growth as a result of rapid urbanisation, resulting in increased demand for municipal services. But as much as the cities needed new investment, they also had to pay attention to the renewal of ageing infrastructure.