Key Points:

  • Although about 60 per cent of South Africans live in urban areas, the country is comparatively under-urbanised and key policy makers remain ambivalent about the desirability of further urbanisation.
  • International experience shows that there are considerable economic and employment benefits to be derived from the dynamic urbanisation process and from managing cities well. South Africa’s future is overwhelmingly urban.
  • Government at all levels should recognise the critical importance of cities as arenas for higher economic growth, jobs and opportunities. This is the conclusion of cities of hope: Young people and opportunity in South Africa’s cities, a new report from the Centre for Development and Enterprise.
  • With just over half the world’s population now living in urban areas, and with estimates of the global urban population in 2050 running to around 70 per cent, cities have never been more important for human well-being and economic prosperity.
  • These numbers actually understate cities’ collective significance since about 80 per cent of the world’s output is produced and consumed in cities. All of this means that the vast majority of new jobs that will be created in the future will be located in cities, as will be an even larger proportion of better-paying jobs.
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