Joburg asked to model cities around the clock to stimulate economic growth

Captains of industry have called on South Africa’s biggest metropolis to model the concept of a 24-hour city in a bid to unlock the endless opportunities inherent in the night-time economy.

Local investors are urging the City of Johannesburg to leverage the notion of 24-hour local government to improve efficiency, economic growth and job prospects in the municipality.

Private sector stakeholders this week met with Mayor’s Committee (MMC) Member for Finance, Cllr Julie Suddaby, for a post-speech engagement session on the budget, during which the business sector urged the municipality to re-imagine a 24-hour City job to unlock economic opportunities. The discussion was moderated by Landiwe Mahlangu, Chief Economist of Amazwe Holdings.

The captains of industry said Johannesburg could serve as a model for other first-world cities such as New York, Buenos Aires or Tokyo, which profit from the night-time economy. Residents and tourists in these cities benefit from 24-hour cafes, supermarkets, cinemas, gyms, public transport and government services.

MMC Suddaby said Johannesburg had a population of around 6.2 million, which matches cities such as New York, Hong Kong and London.

“Johannesburg has a 40% unemployment rate and a devastating youth unemployment rate of 55%. Our poverty rate is 52% and only 71% of households have access to electricity,” she said. declared.

Cllr Suddaby stressed that the city must work with the private sector if the staggering unemployment rate and high levels of poverty are to be reduced.

Vuyiswa Ramokgopa, chairman of the National Property Practitioners Council, said Johannesburg was the heart of South Africa’s economy.

“Johannesburg has to work; we have no choice. It is imperative that government, business and relevant stakeholders realize the urgency of getting things right. We need to start thinking about the multi-use function of buildings in downtown. We need to start moving to a 24-hour city. There are so many old industrial areas, with abandoned factory buildings, that we need to start thinking about how we can reuse,” Ramokgopa said.

Aubrey Tshalata, president of the African National Federation of the Construction Industry, said that as business players they support the city’s Golden Start initiative, aimed at repairing damaged infrastructure and developing the economy. local.

“Companies welcome the budget allocation to City Power to ensure the stability of the power grid. However, the increase in land, water and electricity tariffs will put more pressure on small businesses,” Tshalata said.

Peter Baur, an associate professor at the University of Johannesburg’s School of Economics, said the city should consider scaling up the Expanded Public Works Program (EPWP) to both repair damaged infrastructure and get people out of poverty.

“The kind of EPWP that was used by the United States during the Great Depression successfully lifted the country out of economic depression. This is the model we need to follow. We need to pay people enrolled in EPWP living wages, not benefits. We need to spend more on infrastructure repairs to grow the economy,” Professor Baur said.

He added that the art industry was a good export for the country and could create jobs.

Neil Pollock, president of the South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SACCI), said they were committed to working with the city.

“We want to collaborate with the City. We ask you to keep us [business] responsible as much as we hold you [the City] responsible,” Pollock said.

Written by Nkosana Lekotjolo