A view of the Johannesburg skyline. Picture: THE TIMES

A view of the Johannesburg skyline. Picture: THE TIMES

SOUTH Africa’s urban population is growing larger and younger‚ and by 2050 nearly 80% of SA’s total population will be living in an urban area, according to a government report.

Briefing Parliament’s portfolio committee on Tuesday on the draft Integrated Urban Development Framework (IUDF), Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Deputy Minister Andries Nel said urbanisation in SA was taking place at a rapid pace

“South Africa is urbanising rapidly. The United Nations estimates that 71.3% of South Africa’s population will live in urban areas by 2030. Nearly 80% by 2050. South Africa’s urban population is growing larger and younger. Two-thirds of South African youth live in urban areas‚” said Mr Nel, citing a government report.

Cities and large towns produced over 80% of the national gross value added and metros were growing twice as fast as other cities, he said.

Mr Nel said towns had much higher average incomes‚ compared to the country as a whole (about 40%), and employment grew twice as fast in metros.

“Between 1996 and 2012‚ metros accounted for 75% of all net jobs created in South Africa. Despite this‚ ‘urbanisation of poverty’ is increasing‚ especially in townships‚ informal settlements and inner cities.

“Urban areas are dynamically linked to rural areas — flows of people‚ natural and economic resources. Urban and rural areas are becoming increasingly integrated‚ as a result of better transport‚ communications and migration‚” he said.

Interdependence of rural and urban spaces needed a comprehensive‚ integrated approach to urban development, the deputy minister said.

High concentrations of people‚ buildings and infrastructure also increased the risk of natural disasters‚ climate change and variability. Reducing urban risk was critical to achieving sustainable urban growth and safety‚ particularly in public spaces‚ was an essential ingredient for the creation of liveable and prosperous cities, said Mr Nel.

He said urban spaces needed to be designed and managed in a way that made citizens feel safe from violence and crime.

“By 2030‚ South Africa should see reviving rural areas and creating more integrated‚ balanced and vibrant urban settlements.

“To achieve this‚ the country must clarify and relentlessly pursue a national vision for spatial development‚” he said.

The Integrated Urban Development Framework (IUDF) aims to develop cities offer its residents access to social and economic services‚ inclusive‚ sustainable economic growth and development and spatial transformation.

Mr Nel said on Tuesday that the IUDF was being consulted on extensively‚ and the final draft would be completed by November.