Joburg Executive Mayor Parks Tau reflects on the progress made in improving ordinary citizens’ lives during 2015, and outlines some of the City’s aspirations for 2016.

Executive Mayor Parks Tau during the 2015 EcoMobility World FestivalThe EcoMobility World Festival ‘has left behind various legacies that continue to be in place long after the October 2015 Transport Month’ – Executive Mayor Parks Tau.As 2015 draws to a close, there are a number of reasons for the people of Johannesburg to reflect on how the City has fared through the year and what we all aspire to in 2016.

After all, the Festive Season is a time for us all to take a break from our regular work commitments, lay back and spend some quality time with family and friends.

The Joburg Growth and Development Strategy 2040 remains our lodestar which outlines our commitment to the development of our citizens. During 2015 we have accelerated the City’s programmes and projects aimed at realising this commitment.

Our more than R3-billion developmental programme, Jozi@Work, which is a co-production model designed for the metropolitan to partner with communities to boost the delivery of municipal services in their communities, came alive in January 2015.

The City also begun rolling out Vulindlel’eJozi, a youth programme designed to break down barriers to various opportunities for up to 200 000 young people. These opportunities include online further education training, entrepreneurship skills development, and entry-level job training and placement of youth.

The Vulindlel’eJozi programme has recently been acknowledged in a survey conducted by The Economist. The survey, commissioned by the Citi Foundation, recognised the City of Johannesburg among 35 cities around the world that are effectively and aggressively harnessing the power of the youth to drive sustainable economic growth. The survey findings are contained in a report titled “Accelerating Pathways: Youth Economic Strategy Index 2015 – A Decision Maker’s Tool for Advancing Young People Opportunities in Cities”.

During this year, the City also launched the Jozi Digital Ambassadors programme, which will see up to 3 000 young people being trained to impart digital literacy to more than 700 000 households in Johannesburg. The City’s investment in these developmental programmes indeed demonstrates that Johannesburg is a city that knows that with just a little help, our youth are not the challenge some think them to be, but our greatest asset.

All this development is happening on the backdrop of our continued service delivery. An infrastructure upgrade investment of R100-billion is currently under way in our city. This includes the building of roads and bridges, improvement of our public transport facilities, revamping our water infrastructure, as well as building more clinics and houses for the people of Johannesburg.

We went on to restore dignity and pride to occupants of government-delivered houses by issuing title deeds to more than 1 500 home owners in the City. More title deeds will be issued in 2016.

Confronted by the challenge of congestion in the Sandton city centre, and to demonstrate Johannesburg’s potential of becoming a global green transport city, in October, the City hosted the first ever EcoMobility World Festival on the African continent.

The Festival was a resounding success as Johannesburg residents and businesses embraced the idea of an eco-mobile city. Residents and employees demonstrated their support by either using public transport, car-sharing, cycling or walking as opposed to single-passenger private car use. The Festival has left behind various legacies that continue to be in place long after the October 2015 Transport Month.

Furthermore, earlier this month the City hosted the 7th Africities Summit by the United Cities and Local Governments of Africa, which saw local government leaders deliberate on urban and economic development of African cities.

It was the resolutions taken at this Summit to realise the Africa 2063 Agenda’s vision that the City of Johannesburg promoted at the recent Climate Summit for Local Leaders, which took place alongside the COP21 negotiations in Paris, France.

The City also scooped the prestigious C40 Cities Award 2015 for our 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.

I look forward to rejoining forces with the people of Johannesburg in 2016 to continue transforming our City into a sustainable, resilient and successful metropolitan that we can all be proud of.

With the above outline of the City’s year that was 2015 to reflect on, I wish all the people of Johannesburg a safe and joyous festive season, and a prosperous 2016.