South Africa’s cities can’t cope with the influx of migrants: minister

South Africa plans to ‘upgrade’ human settlements across the country to accommodate an expected influx of migrants to the country’s urban areas, says Human Settlements minister Mmamoloko Kubayi.

In a virtual address on Wednesday (3 November), Kubayi said South Africa is the most industrialised economy in the African continent and naturally attracts migrants from the surrounding countries in large numbers.

Kubayi said these migrants enter the country primarily for economic opportunities and gravitate towards cities, where human settlements infrastructure is already under pressure because they are severely inadequate for accommodating huge populations.

“Currently, of the one billion global slum dwellers, 238 million are in Sub-Saharan Africa. Africa’s population is projected to double between now and 2050, and urban areas will absorb two-thirds of this growth. It is within this context that South Africa has formulated its national urban policies, urban legislation and regulations, urban planning and design,” she said.

Kubayi said that the government now plans to ‘upgrade’ the country’s human settlements to accommodate this influx of migrants better and improve living conditions in urban areas.

“We acknowledge, however, that government cannot yet keep pace with the demand, and we are ever more aware that we need to create more partnerships to respond to the needs of nearly two million households living in informal settlements across South Africa,” she said.

“It is a national priority to respond systematically to the increasing rate of urbanisation. Thus the upgrading of 2,200 informal settlements is a central objective of our urban management strategy.”

With the participation of the private sector, civil society, academia and other stakeholders, approximately five million housing opportunities have been created with government support in South Africa since 1994, said Kubayi

“We have also put other enabling policies that allow more housing options and choices to be continually developed to meet the needs of a rapidly urbanising country.”

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South Africa’s cities can’t cope with the influx of migrants: minister