GCRO Publications

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Visit the GCRO home page at www.gcro.ac.za For information on accessing GCRO Publications collection content please contact Bongi Mphuti via email : bongi.mphuti@wits.ac.za or Tel (W) : 011 717 1978


Recent Submissions

Now showing 1 - 5 of 44
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    Adventures in City Data: An Ethnographic Story
    (Gauteng City-Region Observatory, 2022-12) Shirley Robinson
    South Africa is urbanising rapidly, and its economic landscape is continuously changing as a consequence. In this context, city governments and urban scientists have long called for better access to city economic data. The National Treasury has reinforced this demand, insisting that intra-city economic data is critical in order to improve planning, performance and investment in South Africa’s cities. A wealth of data is collected by the South African Revenue Service (SARS) in the course of its routine operations assessing the tax obligations of companies and individual taxpayers. In addition to its bureaucratic purpose, this data represents an enormous potential resource for a detailed understanding of the urban economy. Until recently, this resource has been underutilised because it was not available in an anonymised and geocoded form. At a practical level, however, the significant amount of energy and time required to access, clean and align administrative datasets to make them usable is not generally understood. This GCRO Occasional Paper presents an ethnographic account of a decade-long journey in city economic data collation by the author who, as a long-term technical advisor to the National Treasury’s Government Technical Advisory Centre (GTAC), led the work on the city economic data programme in support of the first phase of the National Treasury’s Cities Support Programme (CSP). After observing the critical need for anonymised and geocoded economic administrative data in policy formulation and urban research, this paper examines the reasons for the limited availability of datasets able to show the location of economic activity and employment at a disaggregated local level. The paper details how the National Treasury’s collaboration with the World Bank in 2016 to produce the Urbanisation Review of South Africa stimulated and directed the efforts of GTAC and the Economies of Regions Learning Network (ERLN) to pursue official sources of city-level administrative data. The paper goes on to recount subsequent National Treasury/CSP collaborations with Statistics South Africa, SARS and the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) to collect and collate anonymised and geocoded city economic data from sources other than national general surveys. Despite progress, these efforts were ultimately stymied due to practical and governance constraints. Nevertheless, in a parallel process, these collaborations ultimately bore fruit in the establishment of a secure administrative data centre at the National Treasury that stores anonymised data, which can then be geocoded using postal codes. This secure data centre in turn, after the author had left the process, ultimately provided a foundation for the milestone publication of the 2021 City Spatial Economic Data Reports. The paper concludes by reflecting on the insights from this ethnographic account around possibilities for improving the integrity of the city spatial economic data resource, and enhancing its use in credible, evidence-based urban analysis. First, these conclusions highlight broader institutional and public management concerns in the current governance environment on which future steps to improve the city spatial economic data will depend. Second, the paper points out that, despite the long journey travelled, business classification uncertainty still remains. Solving these governance and data puzzles may further enhance the incredible potential that such a rich data resource holds for evidence-based policy aimed at creating a more just and equal society in South Africa.
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    Governing the GCR series: Displaced urbanisation or displaced urbanism? Rethinking development in the peripheries of the GCR
    (Gauteng City-Region Observatory, 2022-04) Ngaka Mosiane; Graeme Gotz
    This Provocation attends to a feature of the Gauteng City-Region (GCR) – its periphery – that continues to receive very limited public and private investment yet remains home to many hundreds of thousands of largely poor people. The extended GCR has a complicated social, economic and spatial structure due to the legacy effects of apartheid. That system’s laws against free movement frustrated the urban aspirations of the African population, forcing them to stay in the extended cheap labour pools of economically unviable bantustans, many in proximity to but removed from burgeoning city centres. This system has not unravelled with the formal arrival of democracy. The GCR remains a complex functional space whose edge is not defined by the boundary of the Gauteng province. Tens of thousands of commuters routinely flow across the northern boundary of Gauteng each day to work, shop, trade goods or seek employment in Pretoria and other Gauteng cities. This flow, and the lasting social, economic and spatial dislocation effects of apartheid it reflects, has come to be symbolised by the R573 Moloto Road, colloquially named the ‘road of death’ because of the staggering number of traffic accidents it sees each year. The question of what should now be done with the still underdeveloped zones of what has historically been termed ‘displaced urbanisation’ on Gauteng’s periphery, has occupied the state, amongst other actors, for almost three decades. Focusing on the efforts to conceptualise and plan for massive transport infrastructure along the Moloto Development Corridor as a key solution to the problem, this Provocation reveals a set of unresolved divergences within the South African state. Differences of opinion and policy approach – which pivot on whether it would be better to facilitate the continued, but safer, mobility of peripherally located commuters through massive rail development, or to encourage population relocation to Gauteng’s core – have meant that development efforts have so far remained largely uncoordinated. In turn, the gains that a negotiated process around a broadly common agenda could potentially yield have remained constrained. This Provocation contends that coordination through a strategy of mutual engagement remains absent because the relevant actors lack a shared ‘concept of development’. Both sides of the debate miss the significance of the day-to-day actions of residents, formal and informal traders, civil society, traditional leaders, and other actors, who are not waiting to be moved, or developed by transport investment, but are striving to transform the zones of ‘displaced urbanisation’ they occupy into vibrant spaces of ‘displaced urbanism’. We argue that this ‘displaced urbanism’ – the innovative co-existence of formal and informal land uses and activities; prolific acts of self-realisation by local residents trying to survive and pursue their aspirations; and, in turn, dynamic local economies from below – needs to be taken much more seriously on its own terms.
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    Spatial trends in Gauteng
    (Gauteng City-Region Observatory, 2021-12-15) Ballard, Richard; Mosiane, Ngaka; Hamman, Christian
    As many studies on urban transformation in South Africa have recognised, there is a difference between the ideals of spatial transformation and the ongoing production of space by many kinds of actors who are responding to a wide variety of opportunities and limits. While it might be possible to name post-apartheid urban ideals, unfolding spatial transformations in the democratic era underscore the disbursed nature of the energies producing urban space, and the need to understand and work with these energies as we find them in directing spatial transformation. GCRO's 19th Occasional Paper examines six spatial trends that have shaped Gauteng over the last three decades: Trend 1: From 1990 to 2000, an average of 36 km2 was converted from non-urban land use to urban land use in Gauteng each year. From 2000 to 2010, this decreased to 22 km2 a year, and from 2010 to 2020, it increased slightly to 25 km2 a year. Four-fifths of this growth of urban land cover was in the form of residential land use, most of which was formal. Trend 2: Alongside processes that extend the amount of land being used for urban land use, there is intensifying use of existing urban land. These processes of densification have concentrated half of the province’s residents on just 2% of the province’s land. Trend 3: The number of residential buildings in Gauteng has increased from 2.1 million in 2001 to 3.4 million in 2016. When mapped, new building growth is most prominent in townships where there has been a growth by more than 1 000 new structures per square kilometre in some places. One of the drivers of this growth is the ongoing increase in backyard dwellings. Trend 4: Ongoing production of residential buildings perpetuates, to a large extent, the broad affordability gradient that emerged during the city-region’s segregated history. Using two different types of residential morphology – gated communities and government-provided human settlements – we show that the production of different kinds of residential buildings, catering to divergent income levels, occurs in different parts of the city-region. Trend 5: Although there has been some racial desegregation, particularly in residential areas once set aside for white people, the city-region continues to show socio-economic segregation. An analysis of segregation shows the way in which middle-class suburbs are racially integrated but not diversified by income. Meanwhile, the more affordable nature of accommodation in townships continues to restrict working class populations to such spaces. Trend 6: The location of commercial and industrial buildings suggests an ongoing disjuncture between the largest residential population concentrations and many economic zones. This ‘spatial mismatch’ creates the need for people to commute long distances every day to work or to look for work. However, commercial and industrial buildings are also developing in and near townships.
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    South African Urban Imaginaries: Cases from Johannesburg
    (Gauteng City-Region Observatory, 2022-06) Ballard, Richard; Mapukata, Sandiswa
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    Gauteng’s urban land cover growth: 1990-2020
    (Gauteng City-Region Observatory, 2022-03-31) Ballard, Richard; Hamann, Christian