This is according to the 2016 South African Cities Network Report released in Johannesburg on Wednesday June 22.
SA Cities Network CEO Sithole Mbaga said South African municipalities had improved significantly since the demise of apartheid 22 years ago.
“We now think that we have reached a point [at which] we can conclude that South African municipalities are resilient, particularly the cities. These cities have managed to achieve their objectives under difficult circumstances. The report has reached the conclusion that these cities are strong,” said Mbaga.
The report reveals that most households now have access to basic services. Johannesburg residents, in particular, enjoy greater internet connectivity as a result of massive broadband rollout throughout the city. The report also shows how the city’s economy is growing. But unemployment remains a challenge and living in the city is becoming increasingly unaffordable for some.
But that has not deterred migrants from flocking to Johannesburg, doubling population growth between 2001 and 2011, according to the report. Johannesburg Executive Mayor Cllr Parks Tau said the report was important as it monitored the cities’ challenges, opportunities and emerging trends that had to be considered by management.
“The bulk of economic activity in the world happens in our cities. Many cities face high levels of migration and urbanisation and in many ways we need to take advantage of these trends and development, but also confront the complexities that they present,” said Tau.
Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Deputy Minister Andries Nel said the Global Cities 2030 study predicted that Johannesburg would be the biggest city on the continent by 2030 in terms of the Gross Domestic Product, contributing R2.9-trillion, with Cape Town placed fourth at R1.01 trillion. Five of South Africa’s metropolitan areas were ranked among the world’s 300 largest cities.
“Cities ignite growth through their policies and actions. Our metros' growth rate is higher than that of the country generally. We believe that as government we have already taken steps to ensure our cities improve their efficiencies to function optimally,” said Nel.
Xolile George, CEO of the South African Local Governance Association, said: “Local governance has come a long way and one of the key issues that this report exposes is the journey we’ve travelled thus far from 1993.
“Looking at [the past] 23 years, there has been a fair share of programmes [that have reformed] local governance to its current state. The cities, in particular, play a critical role in confronting these realities, at the same time harnessing the opportunities for their citizens,” George said.