Think-Tank on "Positioning South African Cities for a COVID-19 Economic Recovery": 7th April 2020



The CSP (IGR-NT) convened a Think-Tank on "Positioning South African Cities for a COVID-19 Economic Recovery" on the 17th April 2020 attended by 43 participants representing government departments, city practitioners, city network organisations, academics and economic development practitioners. The objectives of the Think-Tank were to:

  • Discuss the role of South African cities in national economic recovery
  • Identify strategic choices that need to be made to enable economic recovery
  • Propose national interventions that should be prioritised to support cities in performing their desired roles
  • Propose city-level interventions that should be prioritised during the economic recovery period

Some of the key questions were asked, and the key responses are captured below:

What has the pandemic exposed?

  • Our Reality: Economic linkages and dependencies, persistent inequality, extent of the informal sector, fragility of food security, and fragility of job security
  • Positives that we would like to keep: Solidarity and coming together, States' ability to respond decisively, State's capacity to regulate & demonstrated political will, Global knowledge sharing and support and less traffic, less violence, less pollution
  • Negatives that we would like to change: How out of touch certain parts of govt are e.g. de-densification proposals; Relative disempowerment of regional and local actors; Link between current patterns of economic growth and environmental decay; Lack of political discourse on socio-economic centrality of cities; Lack of business continuity in government etc building plan approvals; and Lack of adaptive capacity in the public sector

What would economic recovery look like?

  • Phased recovery

Concrete measures to relax the lockdown

  • Digitisation of government and businesses

More flexible and online work

Public sector savings reprioritised

Widespread internet connectivity

  • More resilient cities

Infrastructure & basic service delivery

Food security

Sustainable investments

  • Spatial changes

Govt prioritising investment in city spaces

Boost to secondary cities and small towns

  • Networked society open to co-operation

Contribution of knowledge institutions, civil society & private sector mobilised

  • Structural Changes

Restructured food system

Increased support to the vulnerable

Increased importance of local production and consumption

Ecosystem in place to support innovation

Reinvention of tourism, conferencing and events industries

Measures to stimulate supply and demand

  • Governance changes

Opportunities for decentralisation and deconcentration

Corruption and captured supply chains addressed

Metro borrowing powers utilised

What are the Proposed Recovery Measures in the Immediate and Short-Term

Immediate (Top 3)

  • Food planning and local distribution
  • Expanded social safety net
  • Establish and support Community Action Networks

Short-Term (Top 3)

  • Re-prioritise budgets with updated priorities
  • Increase roll-out of free WIFI zones
  • Household income support (Basic Income Grant)

Any Other docs

  • Final Think Tank Report


For more information contact:

Karen Harrison: NT-CSP