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.  


Assessment and recommendations

The Gauteng city-region is one of the fastest growing city-regions in South Africa. The functional city-region is largely coterminous with the administrative borders of the Gauteng Province, which was created in 1994, a few months before the country’s first democratic elections. Within the city-region, the population has grown particularly rapidly, thanks to in-migration. The population increased by 3.2 million residents between 1995 and 2009, at a rate of 2.6% annually, as compared with the national rate of 0.6%. In the period between 1997 and 2007, Gauteng’s growth rate, more than 2.7% annually, was nearly three times the average for OECD metro-regions (0.96%). This rapid urbanisation has reinforced the spatial segregation instituted under apartheid. Meanwhile, population growth has been concentrated in a few locations and has resulted in strong spatial polarisation, urban sprawl and tracts of under-utilised land between main urban centres. This pattern of development not only reinforces existing inequalities but generates high economic and environmental costs. If properly managed, however, the city-region’s potential for growth could be huge.


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