Cities are a catalyst for the implementation of the NDP

Two of the goals as set out in the National Development Plan (NDP) are the transformation of urban and rural spaces in South Africa and investment into a strong network of economic infrastructure designed to support medium to long-term objectives.
One of the main points alluded to by President Jacob Zuma in his State of the Nation address on 14 February 2013 is the government’s focus on improving infrastructure. He also emphasised the need for a national integrated urban development framework to assist municipalities to effectively manage rapid urbanisation.

The role of cities in successful implementation of NDP

At a media briefing at KPMG Wanooka Place on 21 February 2013, Kobus Fourie, KPMG Partner and Leader of the KPMG South African Centre of Excellence for Cities, said

cities are critical for the successful implementation of the NDP. Already, 37% of the South African population live in the eight metropolitan cities and produce 62% the national GDP.”

Lullu Krugel, Senior Economist at KPMG in South Africa reemphasised that cities have a key role in making the NDP happen, especially with regard to infrastructure.

“Almost two thirds of South Africa’s population live in urban areas, with the rate of urbanisation expected to continue. Cities, as economic hubs, can contribute to economic growth and employment creation and have an important role to play as centres of economic infrastructure provision to the rest of the country.” said Krugel.

The Global Centre of Excellence for Cities

KPMG’s Chairman for the Global Centre of Excellence for Cities, Mick Allworth, explained some of the reasons which lead to the establishment of the Cities Centre of Excellence.

“When we launched the Global Centre of Excellence for Cities last year, our research showed that there had not been enough holistic thinking when addressing city issues. Planning around cities was not long-term enough, and traffic congestion and other side effects of cities contributed negatively on productivity of citizens. So we realised we had to assemble a team of people who can talk to cities about cities”.

Drawing from his previous experience as city manager for close to 30 years, David O’ Brien, Leader for KPMG’s Global Centre of Excellence for Cities, applauded South Africa’s planning structure.

The NDP, provinces and cities all try and link together. As a matter of fact, the President said in his recent State of the Nation address that cities have to be given the ability and responsibility to do their own planning and developing their own strategies. Also, unlike many countries around the world, South Africa’s cities have been recognised in the Constitution.” said O’Brien.

O’Brien further emphasised that every piece of infrastructure spending is usually in a city, or connects cities.

The role of water in infrastructure development

Key to infrastructure development is the role of water. Kim Adonis, KPMG’s Water Sector Leader, noted that South Africa can really celebrate its water quality.

The key issue surrounding water is its availability. A significant factor is the complexity of getting water to the end user. The amount of unaccounted for water, due to leakages, incorrect billing and theft is in the region of 40 percent in some areas.” noted Adonis.

O’Brien added:

“Water treatment plants are deteriorating, a common problem around the world. The difference, however, is that in developed countries, it is recognised as a problem.”

Cities are the future of the world…

The importance of skills and capacity to the successes of cities was emphasised by O’Brien, to which Fourie responded that this critical issue needs to be addressed on multiple levels.

O’Brien concluded to say that cities are the future of the world and “the most important level of government as it is the one closest to the people.”

What are your views on infrastructure development in Africa, and how do you see cities playing a role in the implementation of the NDP?
David Okwara

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2 Responses to Cities are a catalyst for the implementation of the NDP

  1. Johann Lübbe May 23, 2013 at 12:05 pm #

    It is correctly stated that infrastructure development is at the heart of any city. Without infrastructure, cities will not be able to develop.

    We also know that local municipalities are mainly responsible for the provision of such infrastructure. The same local municipalities who are facing severe challenges with regard to their capacity, sustainability and service delivery. The question may therefore be asked whether it is responsible to leave infrastructure development up to the local municipalities. My answer is a resounding ‘yes’! – on condition that we use the opportunity to create capacitated, functioning and sustainable local authorities on the back of large scale infrastructure projects. This can definitely be done with the assistance of and in partnership with the private sector.

    Let’s all work together to ensure that the NDP and all other government initiatives related to the provision of infrastructure are realised in order for our cities to reach its true potential.

  2. Jane Stevenson June 8, 2013 at 4:08 pm #

    a well written article. It’s time to stop blaming and waiting for others to do things – we need to rise up and take ownership. We all have a part to play

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