Two-thirds of South Africans live in cities
Increased urbanisation over the past 20 years has created economic opportunities for city dwellers - but has also led to competition for scare resources in informal settlements, said South African Institute of Race Relations (SAIRR) researcher Thuthukani Ndebele yesterday.
About two-thirds of South Africans now live in urban areas, according to SAIRR figures, one of the highest rates in Africa. In 1990, just more than half of South Africans were urbanised.
"Urbanisation creates conditions for concentrated economic activity. The downsides, however, may be that urbanisation fuels crime and social tensions, creates greater environmental and health risks, and poses challenges for government service provision."
He said South Africans were leaving rural areas and heading towards cities to find employment, better service delivery and access to amenities.
SAIRR figures show that urbanised provinces, such as the Western Cape and Gauteng, have higher Gross Domestic Product figures than rural provinces, such as the Eastern Cape. The Western Cape's GDP a head of R53 764 is more than double that of the Eastern Cape's R21 464. "It is economic opportunity that attracts people most to urban areas," noted Ndebele.
After arriving in cities, the stillunemployed could become frustrated and disappointed with local municipalities which struggle to provide service delivery for the influx of new city-dwellers, he said. South Africa's urbanisation rate of 62.2 percent is one of the highest in Africa.
Neighbouring countries, such as Zimbabwe (38.8 percent), Namibia (38.6 percent) and Mozambique (39.2 percent) saw increases in city populations during the past two decades, but were working off lower bases.
Ndebele said urbanisation rates in Zimbabwe and Mozambique might have been higher, if they hadn't lost so many migrants to South Africa. "Apart from the slower rate of economic growth in these countries, a lot of people have moved out of their urban areas to South African cities."
This, in turn, helped push up the rate of South African urbanisation.
Although South Africa's urbanisation rate is relatively high, some north African countries like Libya, where 78 percent of the population live in cities, and Tunisia (67.7 percent) are more urbanised than South Africa.
Ndebele said South Africa's urban population would keep growing, following a global trend of people leaving the countryside and moving to cities.
Posted at 07:37AM Jan 25, 2013 by Editor in Cities and Towns |