Why government wants to make South African cities more compact

The Integrated Urban Development Framework (IUDF) is expected to transform South African cities and towns.

This is according to the deputy minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Andries Nel, who presented an outline of the framework on Wednesday (13 June).

First adopted by government in 2016, the objective of the IUDF 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;
  • Shifting jobs and investment towards dense peripheral townships.

Nel said that the IUDF will steer urban growth towards a sustainable model of compact, connected and coordinated towns and cities.

“The IUDF 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,” he said.

“The aim is to create more compact cities structured around public transit corridors and nodes. This will improve city productivity – by improving efficiency- and inclusivity – by improving the access of historically disadvantaged citizens to employment and consumption opportunities,” the deputy minister explained.

Citing recent toUnited Nations (UN) data, Nel said about 54% of the world’s population lives in urban areas, and is expected to increase to 66% by 2050.

This 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 urbanising 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%),” he said.

He added that approximately 63% of South Africans already live in urban areas, and that this will rise to 71% by 2030.

“By 2050 eight in ten South Africans will live in urban areas,” he said.


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