Durban. Picture: ISTOCK
Durban. Picture: ISTOCK

Durban has unveiled a document, called Vision 2040, in which the city outlines its plans to “unlock its economic potential” by using its unique position as a leading transport hub and a top tourist destination.

The document, compiled by the city planning commission (CPC), was unveiled last week during the Shape Durban conference. 

The document states that the city should start thinking globally, invest in, and benefit from, information and communication technology, take advantage of the opportunities created by the fourth industrial revolution, and build on its ethnic and cultural diversity.

Vision 2040 takes its cue from the Treasury, which is offering South African cities financial and other technical support to unlock the economic potential of urban areas by investing in infrastructure, forming partnerships with the private sector and streamlining unnecessary bureaucracy.

Deputy finance minister Mondli Gungubele told the Shape Durban conference that the Treasury was fully behind the eThekwini municipality’s vision. 

CPC chair Prof Ivan Turok, who is also with the Human Sciences Research Council, said the document sought to build bridges across social and economic divides by promoting a holistic vision and concerted action for the city.

“It is vital that people work together on a common agenda to move the city forward and narrow the gap between affluent and deprived communities.” 

The Vision 2040 report, however, said average incomes in the city were more than 30% lower than in the other big metros, so wage earners had even greater difficulty meeting the needs of their families and relatives, who often experienced hunger and deprivation.

“Low incomes undermine people’s quality of life, restrict their ability to pay for public services, and hold back the growth of a consumer economy.”

On the positive side, the document states that Durban is a popular destination for domestic and business tourism. 

“There is further potential as an ‘event city’ with all its sporting and leisure facilities and sea-front amenities.” 

Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry CEO Palesa Phili said the document was a good starting point and members of the chamber were working with the CPC to streamline and improve future plans for the city.

Ethekwini mayor Zandile Gumede commended the work that has been achieved by the CPC thus far.

“As city officials, we are committed to help solve the problems identified by this document. This include easing red tape in our city. This will be able to ensure that investments by local and international business is easily accessed.”