The largest city of South Africa, Johannesburg and its surrounding province Gauteng are the population and economic centers of the country. 15.5 million people live in the Gauteng province and that corresponds to a quarter of South Africa’s population. Moreover, Gauteng produces 35% of the GDP. In the political field, the Apartheid regime was abolished in 1994. In that sense, one can name South Africa “a young democracy”. Therefore, the participatory strategic planning experience of Johannesburg and Gauteng are relatively new, too.

The long-term planning process for Johannesburg and Gauteng has started in the beginning of the first decade of 2000s. After a long and comprehensive work firstly the Johannesburg plan (Joburg 2040) and then the Gauteng 2055 strategic plan were prepared. The first steps for the preparation of the Gauteng 2055 plan was the formation of the core team and the examination of the strategic planning examples of other world cities that had a longer experience in the field. The strong provincial government supported the planning process. The discussion papers that were prepared by scholars and researchers helped to set the social framework for the plan. In 2011, the Gauteng Advisory Council was established by the premier to assist in driving the Gauteng Vision 2055. The council is composed of administrators and international experts. Subsequently, extensive public participation to the planning process was mobilized and then, the Gauteng 2055 plan was published in 2014.

The Gauteng 2055 strategic plan focuses on alleviating racial segregation, urban inequality, poverty and unemployment. Those goals are also in line with the South African constitution that was announced 26 years ago and abolished racial discrimination.

The target year for the Gauteng plan, namely 2055, has an important symbolic meaning for South Africans. 2055 marks the 100-year anniversary of the “Freedom Charter”, a declaration by the black majority of the country who in 1955 rose their voice against years-long atrocities, racism and discrimination. The ideals defined in the Freedom Charter served as a valuable compass to navigate and helped to set the societal values for the Gauteng 2055 plan. The societal values are the following: “Integration and cooperation. Human dignity, non-sexism and the rule of law. Sustainable, inclusive development and equal access to opportunities social tolerance and cohesion. Vibrant participative communities.”

On September 10, 2020, as the Istanbul Vision 2050 Office we listened a presentation on one of the largest metropolitan areas of the African Continent, the city of Johannesburg and the province of Gauteng by the members of the project office Rashed Seedat, Nalini Naicker and Aveshni Ponnusamy. Below are the key points that were emphasized during the presentation on the Gauteng 2055 plan: 

  • The Gauteng 2055 plan introduces five key problem areas that need to be overcome: Urbanisation; migration (national and international); poverty; unemployment and climate change. In order to overcome those problems four drivers of change are defined: Sustainable development; equitable growth; good governance; social inclusivity & cohesion
  • Because of years long Apartheid regime, spatial segregation still continues. Economic growth is not shared equally and does not automatically alleviate poverty. Poverty is still a major problem. Gauteng province has one of the highest GINI coefficient, thus, one of the highest income inequality rate in the World. There are social fragmentation across racial, class and gender lines. 2055 plan is far enough to allow for managed, concentrated change to overcome that social fragmentations, a change that can be carefully plotted over the long-term.
  • The plan proposes developmental outcomes to achieve equitable growth. Some of those developmental outcomes are the following: “Quality basic education; nation building & social cohesion; an inclusive and responsive social protection system.”
  • The team organized an extensive public participation process. They visited schools, let students draw pictures, write essays and poems. That was an extremely rewarding process. The project team is well aware that the plan is actually for the children of today. Children are saying that they want to play out, they need more parks and green space. They want to feel safe. And they are worried about the effects of the climate change.