JOBURG’S viable economy will be thrust into the spotlight for public scrutiny when the consultation process on Joburg’s Growth and Development Strategy (GDS) for 2040 begins on Saturday, 24 September and continues for a week.

Participants in the events, on the theme Economic Development, will look extensively at economic growth. “The focus will be on whether the City can achieve economic growth targets even during an adverse global climate and successfully transform itself into a global economic powerhouse,” explains City spokesman, Virgil James.

The week coincides with Tourism Month and Joburg Tourism’s spring campaign.

“As an African city that attracts thousands of foreign migrants in search of a better life, Joburg needs to continuously adapt to the emerging trends and needs of its population,” James says.

He says it is pivotal for key sectors of the economy to remain competitive so they can promote investment, trade and tourism in the City. “Just as important is having an adequately trained and equipped labour force,” he adds.

Public input

Through the GDS outreach programme, the City wants public input on how to address urbanisation, economic development and job creation and for stakeholders to bring forward ideas on how best to leverage business opportunities, create an enabling environment for investment and manage the City’s economic development over the next 30 years.

A series of roundtable discussions and workshops will be held with the engineering sector, mining, information technology, tourism, small business, informal traders, youth, research agencies, residents and unions. Scores of stakeholders in these sectors have been invited to share their expertise and help draft solutions.

“Although Johannesburg is comparatively more developed than other cities in South Africa it clearly has its socio-economic challenges that need to be addressed. None of this can be achieved without a visionary political leadership and a dynamic administration that understands the needs of the City’s population, its demographics and emerging trends,” he says.

Joburg population

With Joburg’s current population of 3.8 million, the city’s households are projected to increase from 1.3 to 1.5 million and its population to 4.1 million by 2015. In the same period, James says the City aims for a nine percent economic growth rate.

He says the GDS will also determine and guide the executive mayor’s flagship projects during his five-year term.

Issues on the agenda include balanced spatial economic development, strategic and employment intensive sectors, support skills acquisition, infrastructure investment that increases accessibility, connectivity and interaction, financial and non-financial support of SMMEs, decent work opportunities, innovation, environmentally friendly and sustainable developments, skills development and training, efficient use of existing resources, broad-based black economic empowerment, reducing the cost of doing business and providing a labour- intensive and enabling business environment.