DCoG Deputy Minister Andries Nel

Deputy Minister Nel Highlights Vital Role Played by Geomatics Sector in Service Delivery




“Transforming Today for a Better Tomorrow,”

23 August 2017,

ICC Durban


Acting Chairperson of the South African Geomatics Council, Mr Nape Mojapelo

President of the South African Geomatics Institute, Mr Peter Newmarch

President of Geo-information society of South Africa, Mr Morena Letsosa

President of the Institute of Mine Surveyors of Southern Africa, Dr Hennie Grobler

Distinguished guests,

Government Officials,

Members of academia,

Ladies and Gentlemen,


Good Morning!


It is a pleasure to join you here in the beautiful city of Durban.


Let me congratulate the geomatics industry for hosting this conference.


I am proud to acknowledge this industry and its different role-players and the vital role they play in the field of spatial planning and facilitating municipal service delivery and infrastructure planning.

Thank you for the complex, understated and somewhat unappreciated, yet significant role that you play in ensuring that the local government sector runs smoothly.


Ladies and Gentlemen,


We meet during Women’s Month, a time dedicated by the Government of South Africa to honour the courage of the women who led the Women’s March of 1956.


We also take this opportunity to celebrate women’s achievements and promote the breaking of the glass ceiling.


I am sure that this is an ambitition that the Geomatics community also shares and takes steps towards ensuring the progress of women in this field.


Let me also state unequivocally that we are against all forms of violence against women and children.


In that regard we welcome the resignation of a member of the executive following such an incident.


Conference delegates,


The Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs is charged with the transformation of local municipal spaces to ensure a better life for all South Africans.


The geomatics industry provides us with the opportunity to strengthen the various strategic initiatives in our department such as the Back to Basics (B2B) programme, disaster management and the implementation of the Integrated Urban Development Framework (IUDF), together with infrastructure planning and investment across local spaces.


The theme of the 2017 conference, ““Transforming Today for a Better Tomorrow” resonates with the current initiatives within the Department of Cooperative Governance and resonates with the Chapter 13 of the National Development Plan, which focuses on building a capable and developmental state through the development of technical and specialist professional skills.





The National Development Plan (NDP), chapter 13 requires South Africans to build a professional public service and a state capable of playing a transformative and developmental role in realising Vision 2030.


These should be achieved through the collaboration between all sections of the society and strong leadership by government.


I am sure that by now you are aware that South Africa’s national urban policy, the Integrated Urban Development Framework, was approved by Cabinet last year.


The IUDF sets out the policy framework for transforming and restructuring South Africa’s urban spaces, guided by the vision of creating ‘liveable, safe, resource-efficient cities and towns that are socially integrated, economically inclusive and globally competitive, where residents actively participate in urban life’.


It offers a New Deal for South Africa’s Cities and Towns.


In light of the above, it is clear that the theme “Transforming today for a better tomorrow” echoes the vision of the NDP and is also in sync with the IUDF policy directives.


Transforming today for a better tomorrow is everybody’s business and it cannot be business as usual since there is a need to get back to basics and redefine the role played by all in South Africa.


Zooming into the South African surveying and Geospatial community, there is a need to develop & strengthen the technical and specialist professional skills in South Africa.


The NDP further states that the state needs to reinvigorate its role in producing the specialist technical skills that are essential to fulfil its core functions and provide appropriate career paths for technical specialists.


In light of the above, work done by the Geo-Information Society of South Africa (GISSA), the South African Geomatics Institute (SAGI), the Institute of Mine Surveyors of Southern Africa (IMSSA) in addressing the professionalization of the specialist & technical skills is applauded.


These specialist and technical specialist professional skills will assist in transforming our municipal spaces.


If we are able to harness the technical and specialist professional skills in South Africa, we will be set on a path of achieving spatial transformation. We will be able to achieve the strategic goals as outlined in the IUDF, namely:

  • Spatial Integration: To forge new spatial forms in settlement, transport, social and economic areas.
  • Inclusion and Access: To ensure people have access to social and economic services, opportunities and choices.
  • Inclusive Growth: To harness urban dynamism for inclusive, sustainable economic growth and development.
  • Efficient Governance: To enhance the capacity of the state and its citizens to work together to achieve social integration.


The Municipal Systems Act (No.32 of 2000) requires that local government should ensure integrated development planning in its areas of jurisdiction. Section 35(1) of the Municipal Systems Act, 2000, sets out to concretize the fact that Integrated Development Plan (IDP) is the principal strategic planning instrument which guides and informs all planning, development and decisions in the municipality.


Therefore, the IDP should also include the Spatial Development Framework (SDF) which in this regard is a core component of a municipality’s economic, sectoral, spatial, social, institutional and environmental vision.


Furthermore, the Spatial Planning and Land Use Management Act (2013) (SPLUMA) is a national law that was passed by Parliament in 2013 and it aims to develop a new framework to govern planning permissions and approvals, sets parameters for new developments and provides for different lawful land uses in South Africa.


SPLUMA is a framework law, which means that the law provides broad principles for a set of provincial laws that will regulate planning.


The South African surveying and Geospatial community should also participate in local government integrated planning processes and also provide support in strengthening the implementation of SPLUMA.


There is a need to build partnerships in a quest to achieving Vision 2030.


Partnerships will ensure that relevant expertise is injected in the local government sphere.


There is a need to move away from business as usual and be involved because “Transforming today for a better future” is everybody’s business.


In addition to this, the three spheres needs to jointly align their spatial development plans in order to achieve spatial transformation.


Like other developing countries, South Africa faces rapid urbanisation across the different provinces.


The implementation/ realisation of the IUDF goals rely heavily on the tools and principles used in the geomatics space, which will allow town planners and developers to realise a spatial virtual future state prior to actual physical development.


These tools allow for scenario planning as urban areas contain the possibility of high concentrations of people, buildings and infrastructure with an increased exposure to natural disasters, exacerbated by climate change and climate variability.


Urban growth and development generate and amplify risks, which have the potential to undermine efforts to transform urban areas and create spaces of opportunity, investment and safety.


Therefore, reducing urban risk is critical to achieving broader developmental objectives in urban areas.


Proactive action to address risk is integral to creating sustainable urban growth and developing community resilience.


In the same regard, geomatics tools also allow for rural areas to be seen as provisional nodes for urban centres from a resources point of view.


Different resource layers of spatial information can be viewed simultaneously, to understand the capacity of rural areas to become provisional access points for rapid urbanisation.


In response to climate change and variability, the geomatics industry provides important tools to understand the spatial future of South Africa.


The rapid improvement in satellite sensor technology and remote sensing platforms will allow urban planners and developers to understand different climate variables in planning for development.

In this manner both urban and rural development initiatives are planned with necessary understanding of risk mitigation levels.


Disaster Management


The country’s disaster risk management system remains one of the cardinal programmes critical to ensuring sustainable service delivery and the realisation of the development aspirations spelled out in the National Development Plan.


This programme is administered by my department through the National Disaster Management Centre (NDMC) under the Disaster Management Act 2002.


The National Centre has to date, made notable strides in driving disaster management and disaster risk reduction programmes, by proactively managing and responding to various hazards such as floods, drought, fires, sinkholes as well as providing support to other sectors such as agriculture.


In recent years, the NDMC has developed several hazard based GIS models (snow, drought and windstorms) that allow disaster managers to proactively manage local disaster situations with the use of these technology tools.


There is a noticeable lack of skilled technical and professional resources within the Geomatics sector, including South Africa.


There is also a considerable lack of information on the important role that the industry plays in all aspects of planning.


The general public is not well informed about the surveying profession, compared to others in the built environment such as engineering and architecture.


The Department has endeavoured to do more to highlight the work of the profession and one of the ways is the intake of geomatics orientated resources into programs across the department in the form of internships and work based study periods.


The interns at the National Disaster Management Centre get a cross-sectional exposure level to different applications of GIS tools for various disaster management problems. (Cogta interns description here).


The department will endeavour to do more in this area to highlight the work of the profession and advance the sector in light of the African need.


Conference of this nature provides an impetus for such actions.


Remote sensing and support of local municipality planning


There is a need for consistently monitoring and evaluating local municipal spaces.


The ability to track new developments, monitor settlement growth patterns, and track informal settlement growth is necessary in order to enhance proper planning.


The use of remote sensing technology forms the basis for active multi-temporal analysis of these spaces.


The work done by various remote sensing institutions such as the South African National Space Agency (SANSA), CSIR and the Agricultural Research council (ARC), assist in the provision of satellite products that assist in both the planning and decision-making processes.


Satellite imagery provides a synoptic view of developments and can be used to provide an early warning perspective to changes within that space.


I would also like to acknowledge the work done by the surveyors in terms of land use planning and careful delineation of the landscape in South Africa.


Surveyors in other disciples are also acknowledged such as those that work at the Council for Geosciences and the work they complete that helps us plan for geology and seismic events in the country.


Work done by Cogta


Let me further share the work done by my Department, which adds to the critical role played by the geospatial community and the South African Surveying.


COGTA is in a process of rolling out a GIS Capacity support programme, which focuses on implementing the following core areas:


  • GIS Institutionalisation and Training across the various directorates at COGTA (This includes the deployment of interns to our municipalities to support the institutionalisation process)
  • Ensuring that COGTA geomatics personnel are affiliated with the necessary PLATO registration bodies to further enhance their skills and training
  • Enhancing GIS data quality by acquiring relevant data products such as updated census data and other demographic indicators.
  • Enhancing the GIS analytical capabilities of our municipalities by providing them with the necessary software and training.
  • GIS infrastructure Support through the Enterprise License agreement we have in place with ESRI SA.
  • Exposure of the GIS personnel to international GIS platforms such as the ESRI international conference 2017 ( in which three COGTA people attended to gain training and exposure)





Ladies and gentlemen, there is indeed much more that needs to be done in the fields of geomatics, surveying and remote sensing.


We as a department look forward to a closer working relationship with the different institutions across the spectrum within these environments in order to transform the manner in which we manage South Africa;s spatial contexts in order to bring transformation and change.


Let us continue to work together to create a better life for all.


Let us indeed Transform Today for a Better Tomorrow.


Thank you!