Ekurhuleni: The Making of an Urban Region

This book is a very useful contribution to understanding the tortured history of Ekurhuleni — the extensive urban region lying to the east of Johannesburg — and the complicated legacy facing the current administration.

Averting a downward spiral: building resilience in informal urban settlements through adaptive governance

The growth of informal settlements can intensify the risks of social and ecological harm to their communities and to the wider urban area. The unplanned and poorly serviced character of these settlements raises the probability of disasters occurring.

Cape Town deserves a reliable and predictable train service

It is reassuring that the Regional Manager of Metrorail, Mthuthuzeli Swartz (Cape Times, July 19), is willing to acknowledge the precarious state of Cape Town’s rail network and to engage in public debate about how to fix it. Rail users will be pleased to read that there is a long-term plan to upgrade the track and trains, … Continued

Resurgent African Cities?

There is a welcome new narrative about Africa as a continent on the move and verging on economic take-off. The old assumptions of political mismanagement, economic failure and entrenched poverty have been replaced by an optimistic scenario of growing prosperity rooted in stable democracies.

Urbanisation and Development in South Africa: Economic Imperatives, Spatial Distortions and Strategic Responses

South Africa is one of the most urbanised countries in Africa. Urbanisation has been a source of controversy posing dilemmas for successive governments and resulting in wide-ranging interventions to control it in various ways. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries a distinctive form of racial segregation was put in place, reflecting the needs of industrialisation for cheap migrant labour, but political nervousness about permanent urbanisation. After World War II political…

Urbanisation and Development in South Africa: Economic Imperatives, Spatial Distortions and Strategic Responses

This paper outlines the experience of urbanisation in South Africa, which is now one of the most populous and urbanised countries in Africa. For over a century, urbanisation has been a source of controversy posing dilemmas for successive governments and resulting in wide-ranging interventions to control it in various ways. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, a distinctive form of racially segregated urban development was put in place, reflecting the needs of the economy for cheap migrant labour to support rapid industrialisation…

The changing spatial economy of cities: An exploratory analysis of Cape Town

The spatial economy of South African cities is generally believed to be experiencing selective deconcentration, which may exacerbate social inequality because of the physical disconnection between jobs and population. This paper assesses whether the locational pattern of economic activity across Cape Town is following this trajectory, using data from the Regional Service Council levies between 2001 and 2005. One of the main findings is that the city centre and areas close to the centre have maintained their economic dominance, therefore Cape Town remains a monocentric city. Yet the pattern of recent growth is more dispersed…

Reshaping Cities, Rebuilding Nations: The Role of National Urban Policies

The challenges of rapid urbanisation in large parts of Africa are beyond the capacity of local government to manage. The paper explores the arguments for a national urban policy to complement local strategies, reflecting the unique power of the central state and the special circumstances of cities. With appropriate support, urbanisation could become a more positive force for economic and human development. Recent experience in South Africa illustrates some of the difficulties and possibilities for agreeing a systematic approach to planning and managing…