Johannesburg continues to lead the way as a pioneering city in South Africa. Although there are economic challenges, rising interest rates and rapid fluctuations of currencies, the City of Johannesburg stands out as an example of stability and prudent financial management.
The city’s reputation as an attractive destination for investment was strengthened by the recent decision of global agency, Fitch Ratings, to upgrade and affirm the city’s long-term ratings.
The agency lauded the city for its “robust budgetary performance” when measured against international standards. It highlighted the fact that Joburg is the largest and wealthiest city in the country as well as home to the major financial institutions and corporate headquarters. The report singles out the city’s capacity to collect revenue and offer ratepayers good value for the rates and taxes they contribute.
Fitch noted that, despite a slowdown in the national economy, the city’s R10 billion investment in infrastructure over a 10-year period would support the continuing good performance of its economy. This will lead to an average growth in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of two to three per cent over the medium-term resulting in an expanding tax base when coupled with a slightly rising population.
A GDP is the monetary value of all the finished goods and services produced within a country's borders within a specific time period. For global investors, it shows that the City of Johannesburg is a safe and potentially profitable investment destination. For local residents, ratepayers and the business sector, it sends positive messages that the policies implemented by the city are correct and that the leadership can be trusted to continue on its current path.
This should result in more investment, leading to economic growth, job creation and further opportunities to improve infrastructure and the quality of service delivery in the city. Recently, the city scooped the prestigious C40 Cities Award 2015 for its Green Bond initiative in Paris. The Green Bond, which was oversubscribed, has already raised R1.458 billion in the past financial year and this is being invested in numerous projects in the effort to green the city.
Infrastructure to Develop Corridors of Freedom
In 2012/13, Johannesburg Executive Mayor Parks Tau announced that the city would invest more than R100 billion over 10 years in major infrastructure projects mostly related to the Corridors of Freedom. The Corridors of Freedom are transport-orientated developments that will see Johannesburg transcend apartheid-era town planning by bringing schools, services, work opportunities and other benefits closer to people’s homes, especially of those who live on the outskirts of the city.
The main objective of the creation of the Corridors of Freedom is to undo apartheid’s spatial planning, create a unified city and improve communities’ access to economic and job opportunities.
Much has been done to develop the Rotunda Precinct in Turffontein, the Empire-Perth Corridor, the Louis Botha Avenue and the Soweto Corridor around Mooki Drive, including the upgrade of the Nancefield Station.
All these projects are designed to uplift communities, improve mobility and integrate communities. A critical part of the Corridors of Freedom has been the development of the Rea Vaya Rapid Bus system that has been lauded the world over.
Empowering the Youth
Johannesburg is also making strides in its efforts to bring youth into the mainstream of economic activities through creative programmes such as Jozi@Work and Vulindlel’ eJozi.
The city has implemented the R3 billion developmental programme, Jozi@Work, which is a co-production model designed for the municipality to partner with communities to boost the delivery of municipal services in communities.
This project was lauded in a recent international research report for its success in harnessing the power of youth to drive sustainable economic growth.
The findings are contained in a report titled “Accelerating Pathways: Youth Economic Strategy Index 2015”. The respected business publication: The Economist was commissioned by the Citi Foundation to conduct the research in 35 cities around the world including Sydney, London, Madrid, Moscow, Mexico City, Hong Kong and Miami.
Mayor Tau describes the recognition of the city as “a welcome development”.
“Johannesburg is well aware of the need for significant reforms in education, entrepreneurship, skills development and training to empower young people in the current economic climate,” he adds.
The report says “policy need not involve substantial costs.” It refers to Jozi@Work as “a highly innovative initiative” through which Johannesburg “tries to address several urban issues simultaneously”.
It also praises Johannesburg because it has made youth development one of its largest priorities because of the clear economic and societal need for progress, turning the so-called ‘ticking time-bomb generation’ into an opportunity for success.
Through Vulindlel’ eJozi the city has committed to create 200 000 new jobs for the youth and has partnered with the private sector to provide financial incentives for hiring youth.
Johannesburg has also established a network of ‘youth advisories’ at community level to reach out to young people, listen to their concerns and begin to address the needs in areas such as education, job training and employment.
Mayor Tau says Joburg is a city “where the young lead the call for transformation, demanding the opportunity to work, to improve their lives and become the best of what they wish to be”.
Source: City of Joburg