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OECD Territorial Reviews: The Gauteng City-Region, South Africa 2011

image of OECD Territorial Reviews: The Gauteng City-Region, South Africa 2011

With 22% of the national population (11.2 million inhabitants), the Gauteng city-region is the largest and richest region in South Africa, contributing to one-third of national GDP. The area encompasses a series of connected cities, including Johannesburg and the national capital of Tshwane (formerly Pretoria), that function as a single, integrated region. Gauteng has been South Africa’s growth engine: for every additional 1% growth in population in the province, 1.6% is added to its contribution to national growth, implying higher productivity than in other parts of the country. Nevertheless, the city-region’s growth potential is constrained by deep socio-economic challenges, including high unemployment (26.9%) and low productivity growth. Its rapid demographic and economic development has also reinforced the spatial segregation instituted under apartheid.

Against the backdrop of South Africa’s achievements since the fall of apartheid, this Review evaluates measures to position economic development policy and to confront economic inequality in Gauteng. The issues of adequate housing as a catalyst of economic development and a vehicle for socioeconomic integration, transport mobility and public service delivery are examined in detail. The Review also assesses the economic growth potential of the manufacturing and green sectors, as well as governance issues, focussing on the potential of intergovernmental collaboration in advancing a cross-cutting regional approach for Gauteng.  

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Addressing inequality and expanding economic opportunity

This chapter focuses on economic policy and outlines initiatives that build on the progress the Gauteng city-region has made towards a more inclusive economy. Since the end of the apartheid era, the windows of economic development have been opened for a large number of citizens in the city-region, but gaps remain nevertheless. The chapter reviews the result of recent attempts to reduce the exceptionally high level of unemployment, raise tertiary education attainment rates, and reduce high levels of informal housing and infrastructure backlogs. A section dedicated to spatial inequality discusses Gauteng’s central dilemma: how to provide for its booming population an affordable stock of housing and transport infrastructure that can bridge the service gaps inherited from apartheid. It recommends the adoption of a suite of policies to increase the supply of modest-cost housing and improve mobility through transport-oriented development and growth management. With a view to confronting economic inequality, the chapter includes a labour market policy analysis and stresses the need to improve labour market security for all workers. Given Gauteng’s dominance as the centre of African innovation, the chapter recommends a range of policies to capitalise on the city-region’s dynamism, e.g. improving productivity growth, expanding small businesses, developing new green growth sectors, and addressing bulk infrastructure needs. Taking account of the fluidity of the economic system in Gauteng and increasing inter-municipal commuting, the chapter proposes that policy approaches be grounded in a city-region framework.

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