New Horizons for South Africa's Urban Spaces

Pretoria – South Africa’s grand plan to change the face of urban development is set to create vibrant spaces that are geared towards inclusive living and growth in the country’s towns and cities.

South Africa recently adopted the Integrated Urban Development Framework (IUDF), which was approved by Cabinet on 26 April and announced by President Jacob Zuma on Freedom Day, 27 April 2016.

On Tuesday, the Deputy Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Andries Nel, said the IUDF will steer urban growth towards a sustainable model of “compact, connected and coordinated towns and cities”.

“The IUDF marks a new deal for South African cities and towns. It provides a roadmap to implement the National Development Plan (NDP) vision for spatial transformation – creating liveable, inclusive and resilient towns and cities, while reversing the apartheid spatial legacy,” he said.

The Deputy Minister was speaking at the 2nd African Capital Cities Sustainability Forum (ACCSF) at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) International Convention Centre in Pretoria.

The forum is an annual gathering that affords capital cities in Africa the opportunity to work together and learn from each other in developing and implementing innovative solutions for creating sustainable African cities.

Deputy Minister Nel used the occasion to shed more light on IUDF and its role in achieving Sustainable Development Goal 11 of creating cities that are liveable, safe and resilient.

The Deputy Minister said the IUDF addresses issues such as densification, the delivery of basic services, infrastructure development and rural-urban linkages. Through the plan, government aims to promote urban resilience, create safe urban spaces and ensure that the needs of the most vulnerable groups are addressed.

“The IUDF provides key principles and policy levers for creating better urban spaces. The framework recognises that the country has different types of cities and towns with different roles and requirements.

“The IUDF must be implemented in locally relevant ways that also promote sustainable rural development and strengthen rural-urban linkages. The framework proposes that jobs, housing and transport should be used to promote urban restructuring, as outlined in the NDP,” he said.

Transforming the urban landscape

The objective is to transform urban spaces by:

• Reducing travel costs and distances;
• Preventing further development of housing in marginal places;
• Increasing urban density to reduce sprawling;
• Improving public transport and the coordination between transport modes; and
• Shifting jobs and investment towards dense peripheral townships.

Deputy Minister Nel said achieving urban spatial transformation will require all spheres of government, the private sector, labour, civil society and citizens of municipalities to work together.

“The successful implementation of this vision requires that the country must clarify and relentlessly pursue a national vision for spatial development; sharpen the instruments for achieving this vision and build the required capabilities in the State and among citizens.”

Rapid urbanisation in Africa, Asia

According to the United Nations (UN), 54% of the world’s population lives in urban areas and this will increase to 66% by 2050.

Continuing population growth and urbanisation will add two and a half billion people to the world’s urban population by 2050. Ninety percent of this increase will be in Asia and Africa.

The UN also noted that Africa is expected to be the fastest urbanising region between 2020 and 2050. By 2050, most of the world’s urban population will be concentrated in Asia with 52% and Africa with 21%.