President Cyril Ramaphosa outlined plans for a new smart city in Gauteng during his state of the nation address on Thursday (13 February).
Ramaphosa said that the new smart city will be a ‘truly post-apartheid city’ that would rise to ‘change the social and economic apartheid spatial architecture’.
“A new smart-city is taking shape in Lanseria, which 350,000 to 500,000 people will call home within the next decade,” he said.
“The process is being led by the Investment and Infrastructure Office in the Presidency alongside the provincial governments of Gauteng and North West, working together with the cities of Johannesburg, Tshwane and Madibeng.
“Working with development finance institutions we have put together an innovative process that will fund the bulk sewerage, electricity, water, digital infrastructure and roads that will be the foundation of the new city.
“It will not only be smart and 5G-ready but will be a leading benchmark for green infrastructure continental and internationally,” he said.
Lanseria was identified as a major corridor of development in a 2018 document detailing the province’s plans top build 30 new cities, with investments totalling over R100 billion.
Years in the making
Gauteng Premier David Makhura said he was very happy with the president’s announcement of the new city, saying that his department has been working on the plan for “several years now”, and it was finally materialising.
Ramaphosa first hinted at the development of a major smart city during his 2019 state of the nation address.
“I dream of a South Africa where the first entirely new city built in the democratic era rises, with skyscrapers, schools, universities, hospitals and factories,” the president said at the time.
“This is a dream we can all share and participate in building. We have not built a new city in 25 years of democracy.”
The smart city, the president said, would be connected to other hubs by a bullet train.
“We should imagine a country where bullet trains pass through Johannesburg as they travel from here to Musina, and they stop in Buffalo City on their way from Ethekwini back here.”
“Has the time not arrived to build a new smart city founded on the technologies of the Fourth Industrial Revolution? I would like to invite South Africans to begin imagining this prospect,” Ramaphosa said.
While the idea has been welcomed in some quarters, sceptics have noted that the president should focus on some of the more serious issues facing the country, with the plans of a ‘smart city’ still a pipedream.