SOUTH Africa is faced with a massive task to ensure that its major cities are urbanised effectively as the country continues to face a major exodus of individuals migrating to bigger cities from rural areas in search of better employment opportunities.
Currently, about 61 percent of the country is urbanised, but that infrastructure continues to be pressurized by the lack of resources and opportunities for South Africans to grow in the rural communities.
Deputy Minister of Human Settlements, Zou Kota-Fredreicks said in an interview that her department was placing a significant emphasis of developing housing opportunities for people in rural areas and urban areas alike to not only ensure that the quality of life for people in these areas improves, but to create an environment that can lead to more economic opportunities as having adequate housing in areas leads to investment in those areas where people get jobs and participate in the economy.
eThekwini Municipality, in conjunction with the Department of Human Settlements, The South African Cities Network, and the South African Local Government Association (SALGA) hosted the South African Urban conference this week where industry experts and government officials from around the country gathered in eThekwini, KZN to address South Africa’s urbanisation problem.
The Durban Municipality, under the auspices of the eThekwini Urban Week also celebrated the World Cities Day, addressing issues of innovative governance.
Kota-Fredericks said it was important to address the core issues facing urbanisation, such as what cities can do to foster inclusive economic development and what partnerships are required with other spheres of government and with nongovernmental role players.
Another important note for discussion is to increase equitable access to urban land and space by strategic and coherent intervention in the land market for spatial transformation.
“We also need to foster effectiveness and accountability and participation in the governance of our cities by understanding what meaningful participation by an active citizenry looks like practically,” she said.
Addressing delegates at the conference, eThekwini mayor, Zanele Gumede said the city was committed to sustainable urbanisation as per the strategic goals of the national development plan, integrated urban development frame work and many other related and many other related policy imperatives.