City Development Strategy

Cities need to have long-range strategies to deal with their growth and development, within the context of rapid urbanisation taking place in South Africa and throughout the continent, coupled with a resource-constrained environment. Cities that adopt an integrated approach to development will have more effective and sustainable outcomes.

SACN’s thematic framework suggests that a holistic model to promote and support successful cities requires that cities are inclusive, sustainable, productive and well-governed, and have at their core a long-range perspective on their growth and development prospects and trajectories.

As such, SACN’s CDS programme encourages and supports cities to establish immediate, medium and long term growth and development strategies and plans for cities. The CDS programme includes supporting work-areas that contribute to the intelligence and enabling environment that cities will require: urban data and indicators; urban policy issues; urban studies; and understanding rural-urban dependencies. The State of South African Cities report is SACN’s flagship publication.



  • The World Council on City Data. Discovering solutions for our rapidly urbanising planet, the World Council on City Data (WCCD) is the global leader in standardised city data - creating smart, sustainable, resiliant, and prosperous cities. WCCD is an official SACN partner, providing guidance on South African City Data standardisation and collection.
  • South African Cities Open Data Alamanac (SCODA). SCODA is an open data repository and exploratory platform that has been designed to be an easy to access, to visualise and to download key data. The core dataset contains 102 indicators of city indicators of city performance.
  • The South African Land Observatory. The South African Land Observatory is an initiative whose overall objective is to promote evidence-based and inclusive decision-making over land resources in South Africa. As its name suggests, it collects data and information on land. The initiative is a repository of what is published on land in South Africa and on the events that take place around land. 
  • The Municipal Barometer. The Municipal Barometer is a web-based portal established to collect, re-package and disseminate local level data for municipalities. It was developed to provide easy access to municiple level data for both specialist and non-specialist audiences.
  • National Treasury Built Environment Performance Plans. National Treasury provides documents on BEPP from 2014/2015 onwards.
  • National Treasury Integrated Development Plans. National Treasury provides documents on IDP from 2002/2007 onwards.
  • Municipal Money. Municipal Money is an initiative of National Treasury, which has collected extensive municipal finance data over serveral years and would like to share this information with the public. The aim is the make this data widely available in order to increase transparency, stengthen civic oversight and promote accountability.
  • The Gauteng City-Region Observatory. The Gauteng City-Region Observatory (GCRO) is a partnership between the University of Johannesburg, the Univeristy of Witswatersrand, Johannesburg, and the Gauteng Provinvial Government (GPG), with lcoal government in Gauteng also represented on the GCRO board. The GCRO collects data and benchmarks the city-region, provides policy analysis and support, undertakes applied research and publishes critically reflective and academic work.
  • Cityscapes. The magazine is a hybrid of forms, simultaneously invested in scholarly discourse around contemporary urbanism in Africa and the global south, as much as individual everyday experiences and activities of the multitude of actors that are actively involved in shaping cities across the continent and the rest of the developing world.

past projects/publications

2006: Reflecting on the first five years of Democratic Local Government in Gauteng (2000 – 2005)