City Of Tshwane: The power behind socio-economic ambition

In recent years, the role of a municipality has changed in South Africa, as issues such as social and environmental sustainability have created additional responsibilities. At the same time, technology has resulted in new approaches to tackling issues, as efficiency drives are seen as ways to save public money. City Of Tshwane, located in northern Gauteng, has fully embraced the challenges of 21st century governance.

High on the remit of every municipality in South Africa, is the goal of creating opportunities for the business world, which in turn will create jobs and economic prosperity.

shutterstock_63478216In late October it was reported that relations between public and private sector on issues affecting property development in City of Tshwane, were among the key topics discussed between commercial property association, Sapoa and Government stakeholders.

The City of Tshwane is currently undergoing a facelift as several infrastructure projects will centralise government departments in the city and rejuvenate the inner city.

The city is of course steeped in history – from the Union Buildings to Church Square. Due to the historic roots of the city many of the suburbs boasts with beautiful old grand dames, but that is no barrier for new property developments.

Addressing the attendees, SAPOA President, Mike Deighton, also Managing Director of Tongaat Hulett Development, announced the 4 pillars of his tenure as presidency which are relationships, education, advocacy and leadership.

“Relationships play a strategic role in bringing together key stakeholders in our vision as a country. Education is a fundamental step needed to flood our society with great young talent,” said Deighton.

He added: “With regards to advocacy, the industry is faced with huge challenges as a result of legislation impacting on us. We need to start talking about how to advocate for a business environment that is conducive to investment, growth and success in a constructive way. And lastly, leadership is required in our country; it is what is needed right now to take this country forward.”

Councillor Subesh Pillay, MMC of Economic Development and Planning in City of Tshwane shared the city’s vision, called Vision 2055.

“The vision for the City of Tshwane, is to be a liveable, resilient and inclusive whose citizens enjoy a high quality of life, have access to social, economic and enhanced political freedoms and where citizens are partners in the development of the African Capital City of excellence by 2055,”said Pillay.

“The current population in the city is close to 4 million people, and is expected to rise to about 8.5 million people by 2055. In light of this vision, the city does envisage some challenges, including the requirement of additional infrastructure across the areas of water, sewage, solid waste, electricity and transport to ensure that growth is sustainable,” Pillay added.

Members addressed concerns around stimulating green industrial development, improvement of transport routes and the delay in approval processes, with capacity problems from the city being a key issue.

Counsillor Pillay indicated that there are several major interventions that the city will implement to create efficiency and help to fast-track processes in the City of Tshwane, especially the Inner City regeneration, including the introduction of incentives to attract investments, and well as quickening the approval processes and will continue to engage with the various sectors to understand how to do things better.

The role of technology is seen as an important driver for education and in November, City Of Tshwane and in November it was announced that the municipality had doubled the daily data allowance on its public Wi-Fi programme.

shutterstock_9105106“Tshwane free Wi-Fi daily cap has been increased from 250MB to 500MB per day,” Alan Knott-Craig Jnr of Project Isizwe told Fin24.

The non-governmental organisation has been tasked with the installation of Tshwane’s Wi-Fi programme which has delivered over 700 hot spots in the metro.

Knott-Craig Jnr was quick to point to the consumer cost saving of the project.

“The equivalent monthly cost based on R120/GB is R1,800. In effect, Tshwane gives R1,800 worth of internet per month to people living in poor communities.”

The Tshwane model, which is the largest of its kind in the country, contrasts sharply with the City of Cape Town which is slowly rolling out services as funds become available.

“The roll-out of the City’s public Wi-Fi access points is informed by our Wi-Fi strategy and the need to ensure that the service is introduced in a sustainable manner,” André Stelzner, chief information officer of the City of Cape Town, told Fin24 recently.

However, Knott-Craig suggested that there was a fundamental difference in approach by the two metros.

“Cities must choose between the Tshwane free Wi-Fi model and the Cape Town open access model. Tshwane requires no direct business case and is aimed at addressing inequality by bringing free internet to poor communities.”

The City of Tshwane has spent R180 million on the Wi-Fi rollout while in Cape Town, R152 million will be spent on broadband in the 2015/16 financial year.

The municipality’s role is also to provide sustainability of vital services of course and in October, Tshwane became the first major metropolitan to implement water restrictions with the threat of drought imminent.

Residents have been urged to use water sparingly and could be fined up to R1,000 if they do not adhere to the restrictions.

Various other municipalities, including Johannesburg, have now followed suit.

Tshwane spokesperson Selby Bokaba said that Tshwane is currently not facing a water crisis because it implemented restrictions earlier than other municipalities.

“Management at water and sanitation division had the foresight of implementing the water restrictions,” he said.

It is for this very reason that Tshwane is not facing the same challenges that other metro’s are facing, Bokaba explained

Every day can throw up new challenges and City Of Tshwane has the infrastructure in place to efficiently deal with each issue, maintaining a sustainable and exciting future for all its residents.