Property sector a catalyst for growth - expert

Johannesburg – It is important to keep in mind that there is less unemployment among city dwellers in South Africa than among rural residents because of the opportunities in cities, said economist Mike Schussler of economists dotcoza.

“About 60% of SA’s economy is represented in eight metro areas in the country, while only 15% of the economy is represented by rural areas,” he explained during a panel discussion at the annual convention of the SA Property Owners Association (Sapoa) on Wednesday.

He called for the public and private sectors to find a way to work together.

“Government, for instance, keeps on talking about its plans for 2055, but we rather need shorter-term planning and action,” said Schussler.

The property sector is not just a result of the outcome of the state of the economy, but can in itself be a catalyst for economic growth, according to Francois Viruly, professor in property studies at the University of Cape Town’s Nedbank Real Estate Research Unit.

“The property industry is about how we can unleash opportunity. The public sector is the enabler, while the property sector can influence matters.”

According to Kobus van der Vyver, property development manager at Urban-Econ Development Economists, municipalities must not just deal with property development in silos, but should rather make sure what the market opportunities are and that they align with development planning.

Rashid Seedat, divisional head of Gauteng’s Planning Commission in the office of the premier, said township nodes have been declining with no sign of greater opportunities having been created for its residents.

That is why the Gauteng provincial government is concentrating on development in the so-called golden triangle formed between Johannesburg, Centurion, Tshwane, Midrand and their respective CBDs.

“Many historic CBDs are declining, but they remain places of mobility. We must maybe look into these areas becoming additional housing opportunities. We must also move away in townships from dormitory-style housing dynamics,” he said.

The last member of the panel, Yonela Silimela, executive director of planning and development at the City of Joburg, emphasised that 50% of households in the city earn R3 500 per month or less.

“Our investments of the City must, therefore, mostly be aimed at these households. We can be seen as a disruptor for inclusive development. This is useful, because it leads to innovation,” she said.

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