Population dynamics require action

“The population dynamics projected for the next 40 years should spur us into action as leaders to craft an innovative and dynamic master plan that will make this province a great place in which to live, work and play, balancing our desire for sustained economic growth and general prosperity, with our natural resource constraints, environmental challenges, as well as technological innovations driving development.”

The ability of Gauteng to manage its unique population dynamics will be a key factor in its ability to drive development in the region. Importantly, we need to develop infrastructure that can accommodate the youthful current population of Gauteng, but also an ageing population in the next 30 years.

This is the view of Professor Monde Makiwane from the Human Science Research Council (HSRC) who recently spoke at the Gauteng Integrated Infrastructure Masterplan (GIIMP) Conference in Sandton.

Pointing to the fact that the majority of Gauteng’s population are between the ages of 20 and 40, Makiwane said: “We need to develop youth-friendly urban infrastructure and facilities,” adding that Gauteng has a need for infrastructure that provides basic services youth and facilitates rapid integration and accommodates people who decide to straddle city and rural areas.

Makiwane drew a comparison with the Eastern Cape where the average population is younger (between 14 and 19) and where there are fewer employment opportunities for young people. This creates a migrant workforce that then moves into the big cities of Gauteng to seek out work.

“We need to change apartheid settlement patterns that kept many rural in-migrants outsiders, this includes changing social attitudes towards new city in-migrants.”

The need to focus on demographics was emphasised by Peter Temple from the Actuarial Society of South Africa. Temple pointed out that 19% of young South Africans live in Gauteng. With 22%- 25% of the total SA population living on 1.4% of the land area there is demand for certain types of infrastructure. However, we need to plan for changes in the next 25 to 30 years.

Temple says that the Gauteng population is expected grow from 10.8m in 2010 to 15.5m by 2040, and he expects the average population to get older with time. According to their statistical planning, the proportion of lives greater than 65 years of age increase from 4.6% in 2010 to 7.7% in 2040. “A larger cohort of older people will put strain on the healthcare system (which is particularly relevant in a future NHI environment) as well as in terms of the affordability of social grants,” he notes.

“Changes in population size and distribution affect demand for services, and a growing population places stress on infrastructure,” he told the audience.


*This editorial forms part of a feature commissioned through Finweek to accompany the GIIMP conference in Gauteng. For more information on this project or to download the presentations please click here.

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