22 March 2017

South Africa: A Need to Reverse Apartheid Spatial Planning

Pretoria — There is a need to guide the growth and management of urban areas in ways that unleash the potential of cities and towns, and reverse the terrible legacy of apartheid spatial injustice.

Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Deputy Minister Andries Nel said this at the 4th Pan-African Local Climate Solutions for Africa Congress (2017), in Ekurhuleni, on Wednesday.

The Deputy Minister said despite the progress, unfortunately, most cities are still highly spatially fragmented due to segregated and class-based colonial planning systems, and in South Africa, apartheid planning policies.

"Thus we all need well-developed policies that promote integrated and sustainable urban development, failing which we will continue to face the downsides of urbanisation."

He cited South Africa's National Development Plan (NDP), which talks about the need to transform human settlements and the national space economy and sets the vision that: "By 2030 South Africa should observe meaningful and measurable progress in reviving rural areas and in creating more functionally integrated, balanced and vibrant urban settlement".

Integrated Urban Development Framework

In pursuit of this vision South Africa has adopted an Integrated Urban Development Framework (IUDF) in April 2016.

The IUDF marks a New Deal for South African cities and towns. It provides a roadmap to implement the NDP's vision for spatial transformation - creating liveable, inclusive and resilient towns and cities while reversing the apartheid spatial legacy.

The IUDF provides key principles and policy levers for creating better urban spaces.

"We will strengthen rural-urban linkages, promote urban resilience, create safe urban spaces and ensure that the needs of the most vulnerable groups are addressed."

The Framework recognises that the country has different types of cities and towns with different roles and requirements. The Deputy Minister said IUDF must be implemented in locally relevant ways that also promote sustainable rural development and strengthen rural-urban linkages.

The IUDF's objective is to transform urban spaces by reducing travel costs and distances; preventing further development of housing in marginal places; increasing urban densities to reduce sprawl; improving public transport and the coordination between transport modes; and shifting jobs and investment towards dense peripheral townships.

United Nations stats

According to the United Nations (UN), about 54% of the world's population lives in urban areas. The Deputy Minister said this will increase to 66% by 2050.

Deputy Minister Nel said continuing population growth and urbanization will add 2.5 billion people to the world's urban population by 2050. About 90% of this increase will be in Asia and Africa.

"In fact, according to the UN, Africa is expected to be the fastest urbanizing 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%)."

Approximately 63%of South Africans already live in urban areas. This will rise to 71% by 2030. By 2050 eight in ten South Africans will live in urban areas.

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