Although South African cities are the engines of economic growth, they are not performing as well as they should, Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba said at the Ekurhuleni Investment Conference, on Monday.
“One of the major reasons for the insufficient performance of our city economies is related to the dispersed and inside-out spatial form that was inherited from apartheid,” he said.
Despite the massive investments in public housing, basic services and transport systems made by government since 1994, these investments have tended to reinforce apartheid urban development patterns, said Gigaba.
“This development path is the very opposite of inclusion. The poorest people in our society are generally only able to find somewhere to live in distant places, forcing them to travel long distances every day, costing them both time and money,” he noted.
Gigaba added that, to be more inclusive and competitive, cities needed to become more compact.
“The development path [we are on] is not productive. The time and money that must be spent moving people and goods around the city every day is economically unproductive, cuts into incomes and profits and makes us uncompetitive.”
He noted that the country’s current development path was also environmentally and financially unsustainable.
Meanwhile, he pointed out that Ekurhuleni was looking to promote investment in advanced manufacturing and that the city has 30% of our country’s industrial capacity.
He added that South Africa’s cities needed to forge strategic partnerships between government and business particularly, including other social partners, to promote investment in growth industries such as advanced manufacturing, which can drive economic development over the next decade or more.