Steppes In Figures #4: Southern Africa trivia from last year

The following information is from a mini 2010 guide-cum-factbook that Steppes in Sync picked up from the South African Embassy in Kyiv.

South Africa is the world’s biggest producer and exporter of mohair.

Museum Africa in Johannesburg. Of around 1,000 museums in Africa, 300 are South African

Of around 1,000 museums in Africa, 300 are here.

South African city Pretoria has the second largest number of embassies in the world after Washington, D.C.

The rand, the world’s most actively traded emerging market currency, has joined an elite club of 15 currencies – the Continuous Linked Settlement (CLS) – where forex transactions are settled immediately, lowering the risks of transacting across time zones.

South Africa mines deeper than any other country in the world, up to depths of 2.5 miles at the Western Deep Levels Mine.

The country has the largest hydro-electric tunnel system in the world at the Orange Fish Rivers Tunnel.

South Africa is the second largest exporter of fruit in the world.

Electricity costs are the second lowest in the world.

SABMiller ranks as the largest brewing company in the world by volume. It supplies up to 50% of China’s beer.

Officially, the youngest language in the world is Afrikaans, one of the country’s 11 official ones.

Very inspiring numbers and facts. Now, let’s see some of those less so.

The information below was taken from the UN Habitat/UNEP report released in November 2010 under the title The State of African Cities 2010: Governance, Inequality and Urban Land Markets.

With a projected 61.7 % of its population living in urban areas, Southern Africa remains the most urbanized subregion on the continent, and this proportion is expected to swell to two-thirds by 2020. With the exception of Botswana, Lesotho and Namibia, demographic growth is now steadily slowing down, from a 9 % rate in 2000/10 to 5.7 % for 2040/50 decade.

Deep-rooted inequalities inherited from the apartheid era have been perpetuated by the neoliberal economic policies that continue to rule urban development, even though the discriminatory pattern is based more and more on class than race. Uneven development has been felt mostly by youths, who make up the majority of the urban population. Governments have invested in education but employment creation falls well short of demand.

Of all the continent’s subregions, Southern Africa features the steepest degrees of socioeconomic inequality, with extreme poverty occurring along class and racial lines. Commoditisation of services has shifted responsibility from local authorities to the private sector, which is not advantageous to the poorer sections of the population.

Consider Johannesburg, Harare and Lusaka. Those under 20 constitute 57 % of the total population in Lusaka, 44 % in Harare and 33 % in Johannesburg.

As urban poverty increased due to loss of employment following economic adjustments in the 1990s, parents sent children to rural communal areas where education costs were lower and where government and non-governmental organisations helped with food handouts.

Urban health infrastructure also deteriorated in Harare, especially in the years just prior to the

Harare, a Southern  African city of contrasting highs and lows (photo. A. Kozlov)

2002 census, often forcing relocation of the terminally ill and vulnerable groups to rural areas. The cumulative impact of these phenomena partly explains the proportionately lower presence of children of school age (6-19 years) in Harare. After the year 2000, the economically active (especially women) were moving to urban areas in the wake of agricultural decline. Research revealed that more females than males departed Zimbabwe’s rural resettlement areas with Harare and other urban areas as the destinations.

Education does not create sufficient job-generating entrepreneurs, and standards are unequal across social groups. Based on figures for formal employment, unemployment rates range from 22 % in Tshwane, 23 % in Cape Town, 26.3 % in Johannesburg, 30 per cent in eThekwini to as high as 80 per cent in Harare. Some urban authorities have tried to foster inclusive cities, but none have fully considered children and youth in their service provision and governance strategies. Cities should make more efforts to deliver broadband Internet to all urban neighbourhoods, rather than reinforcing existing inequalities in services delivery.

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