South Africa’s fastest growing city

 ·21 Oct 2014
Cape Town at night

The City of Cape Town’s latest state of the city report highlights the city’s biggest challenges and successes – including holding the title of South Africa’s fastest growing, and most violent city.

The State of the City report 2014 is the fifth annual report compiled by the City of Cape Town and provides an overview of the socio-economic state of the city.

The report highlights the City’s position as the fastest growing economy in South Africa, marred by challenges with crime and unemployment.

The City’s economic growth has grown faster than the national average over the past 5 years – 3.7% versus 3.2% for the country – growing 78% since 1996, compared to the national rate of 65%.

“This [growth] was not only an outcome of population growth, but also of increased productivity,” the report noted.

Despite this, however, the City’s GDP per capita growth has been, on average, lower than the rest of the country – only 1.3% between 1996 and 2012, versus the SA metro average of 1.56%.

Cape Town’s economy has slowly moved away from secondary sectors such as agriculture and manufacturing to more specialised tertiary sectors, such as finance and business services.

Facing challenges

As a result of its economic status, a notable challenge the city faces is with crime and unemployment.

Labour force growth in the city over the last decade has exceeded employment growth, pushing the unemployment rate up to 24.9%, the report states.

“On average in the period 2005-2013, employment growth was not sufficient to accommodate the growth in the number of new labour market entrants, which could be the reason for the relatively slow growth in GDP per capita,” it said.

This is also on the backdrop of adverse global economic conditions, the report notes, which caused the loss of a million jobs in South Africa.

“Encouragingly strong employment creation in 2013 absorbed more people than what the labour force increased by, thereby driving the decrease in the unemployment rate in this period.”

Another massive challenge for the city is to do with crime. The City of Cape Town is widely known for high levels of gang violence and drug-related issues, particularly in poorer areas.

The City of Cape Town has the highest overall crime rate in South Africa, according to the report, with 8,514 crimes per 100,000 residents reported in the 2012/13 period.

This is double the national crime rate for the same period of 2003/4 to 2012/13.

“Crime continues to be largely concetrated in the poorer areas of the city,” the report stated, noting a 479% increase in drug-related crimes over the 9-year period.

Drug related crimes are expected to increase in the future, as more people – especially the youth – experiement with recreational drugs, the report said.

Research conducted by Mexican group, Security Justice and Peace earlier this year, also named Cape Town as the most violent city in South Africa, with 51 murders per 100,000 people.

According to the City of Cape Town, however, contact related crimes (such as murder, assault, sexual offences and robbery) are expected to decrease in time.

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