Speech by Deputy Minister Andries Nel during the BRICS Friendship Cities, Local Government Forum



28 June 2018,

East London


Programme Director, President of SALGA and the UCLG, Councillor Parks Tau,

Deputy Minister of Human Settlements, Zoe Kota-Fredericks,

Chair of the Portfolio Committee, Richard Mdakane,

Premier of the Eastern Cape, Phumullo Mausalle,

Vice-President of the Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries, Mrs Lin Yi,

Joint Secretary Ministry of Panchatyi Raj, India, Mr Khushwant Singh,

Consul-General of the Russian Federation, Mr Roman Ambarov,

Director at Ministry of Cities, Brazil, Ms Alessandra D’avila Vieria,


Executive Mayor of Buffalo City Metropolitan Municipality, Councillor Xola Pakati,

Executive Mayor of eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality, Councillor Zandile Gumede,

Members of the Diplomatic Corps,

Mayors and Councilllors,

Traditional Leaders,

Officials, both local and abroad,

Distinguished guests,

Ladies and gentlemen,


Good Morning,

ZÇŽoshang hÇŽo,

Dobroe utro (dough-breem oo-trum),

Shubh prabhaat,


Or as we say in this part of South Africa, Molweni!! We also say in other parts of South Africa, Dumelang, Avuxeni, Ndimatsheloni, Sanibonani, Dumelang, Thobela.


It is a great honour to address you all here today on this important occasion of the BRICS Friendship Cities, Local Government Cooperation and Urbanisation Forum. I extend a warm welcome to all BRICS representatives present here with us today and thank them for their availability to participate in this Forum.

This year we celebrate the centenary of the births of a son and daughter of the soil of the Eastern Cape, who you well know as our former President Nelson Mandela and Mama Albertina Sisulu, a struggle activist in her own right.

We join the world in being enthralled at the Soccer World Cup being held in Russia. For South Africans the World Cup evokes memories of our own hosting of the tournament in 2010. We congratulate our fellow BRICS member Russia for hosting what has so far been an incredible World Cup. We wish our two remaining member states, Brazil and Russia, well, as they move into the round of the last 16. Africa’s hopes now lies with Senegal.

We do hope that the World Cup will not keep you from enjoying the beauty of our country.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We believe that our theme ‘Building Sustainable and Inclusive Cities through Innovation and Partnerships’ will resonate strongly with all of us in our deliberations on sustainable urbanization and global commitments.

Rapid urbanization is a worldwide phenomenon. In Africa projections are that in 2050 60% of its people will be urbanized, while in South Africa the UN estimates that 71 percent of the population will be urbanized by 2030. This presents challenges for sustainable and resilient urbanization.

South Africa is a signatory to various global agreements on resilient urbanization, which we regard very highly.

These include the New Urban Agenda adopted in 2016 in Quito, Ecuador, Agenda 2030, on Sustainable Development Goals, Agenda 2063, The Africa We Want, and the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030.

We have just submitted a progress report on implementation of the 6 SDGs targeted for discussion this year, at the UN High Level Political Forum next month in New York.

In February this year, the delegation we sent to the World Urban Forum in Malaysia, reported on progress with regard to the implementation of the New Urban Agenda, which we are embedding in our own local policy, the Integrated Urban Development Framework (IUDF), thus localizing the New Urban Agenda.

We are also aligning and positioning this national urban policy in line with the SDG Goal 11, which is to make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.

Our legislative review regarding disaster management also factors in the Sendai Framework and aligns it to these global commitments and international practice.

Our planning and legislation also factor climate change risk adaptation.

Building urban resilience and ensuring sustainable development demands integration of urban governance, climate and risk-sensitive development planning, as well other systems, services and resources.

Both the New Urban Agenda and the IUDF emphasize the importance of integrated urban infrastructure planning for accessible and sustainable services, which must also bring together spatial and fiscally targeted agreements for land-use, human settlements, and public transport in particular.

South Africa is proud to be actively engaged in all these processes as part of its own urban agenda and sustainable development, and looks forward to diverse perspectives from this forum.


BRICS Representatives,

This Forum takes place on the cusp of the 10th BRICS Summit, which South Africa is hosting from 25-27 July in Johannesburg, under the theme: “BRICS in Africa: Collaboration for Inclusive Growth and Shared Prosperity in the 4th Industrial Revolution”.

The theme is reflective of the core BRICS priority of the creation of an inclusive society and global partnerships that will bring prosperity to all humankind.

Reflecting on the history of BRICS cooperation preceding this 10th Summit, the First BRIC Summit held in Russia in 2009 called for a greater say and representation of emerging markets and developing countries in international financial institutions.

At the BRICS Leaders’ Summit we hosted in 2013, the eThekwini Declaration and Action Plan was issued, which committed to setting up the New Development Bank.

Five years later, here in South Africa, we celebrate the recently launched Africa Regional Centre of the new BRICS Development Bank, and the Bank’s Board of Governors is chaired by our Minister of Finance, the Honourable Nhlanhla Nene.

Importantly, the Bank’s Strategy for 2017-2021 focuses on financing sustainable development and infrastructure projects in BRICS and other EMDCs (Economically More Developed Countries).

Physical infrastructure is a critical enabler of faster, inclusive and sustainable economic growth. But, currently, infrastructure investments needed in South Africa, far exceed available fiscal resources, affecting municipal services as well.

Typically, just the energy, waste, water and sanitation networks are responsible for nearly 50% of city budgets in South Africa. Research shows that whilst capital requirement for water services (and water resources) will decrease with water demand management, approximately R97 billion is still required to rehabilitate existing assets.

To get infrastructure to suitable standards, our South African Financial and Fiscal Commission (FFC) estimated that an additional R4-billion per sector would be required yearly for five years in the case of water and sanitation, and for just under seven years in the case of electricity.  

Yet infrastructure development is integral to overcoming poverty and inequality, as well as building environmental sustainability and urban resilience, particularly in the light of rapidly risen urbanization rates.

A recent State of South African Cities report entitled, ‘Toward Resilient Cities’ indicated that sustainable infrastructure approaches are starting to be adopted by the country’s cities, and this is a promising trend.

Moving towards a more inclusive urban spatial form thus requires considerable long-term planning; we must examine in more depth, how sustainable and how realistic is continuing state investment without sufficient spatial modelling to inform these locational investment decisions?    

At national level strategies are currently being formulated to better guide our urban infrastructure investments, with recognition of the interface between the objectives of the 4th Industrial Revolution, the National Industrial Policy, spatialised investment planning, and the implementation of the country’s national urban policy.


President Ramaphosa has embarked on an investment drive targeting 100 billion dollars in investment over the next five years. South Africa will host an investment conference in September to further advance this goal. Just this week Mercedes Benz announced the expansion of its manufacturing plant right here in East London, with an investment of 600 million Euros. Tomorrow President Ramaphosa will host a World Economic Forum Roundtable to shape an inclusive and sustainable agenda for economic growth. The Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Dr Zweli Mkhize is an integral part of that conference.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

At the 2016 World Economic Forum Annual Meeting, held under the theme ‘Mastering the Fourth Industrial Revolution’ the need to prepare for this revolution was highlighted.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution is characterized by a range of new technologies that are fusing the physical, digital and biological worlds, impacting all disciplines, economies and industries, and even challenging ideas about what it means to be human.’

The key questions are how do we create meaningful collaborations through this revolution, how can new technologies assist the world to close a $1 trillion annual infrastructure investment gap, and design long-term oriented investment frameworks to create a sustainable future?

In line with the theme of the 10th BRICS Summit, it is also important to mention that research by the OECD, World Bank and others, highlight that new thinking in industrial policy pays attention to spatial outcomes of development processes to address inequalities.

This means that we must critically examine our own National Industrial Policy Action Plan, which has a special focus on minerals and beneficiation, agriculture and agro-processing, energy, attracting investments and growing the oceans economy – from the perspective of spatial profiling that understands and facilitates the location of key growth points across regions.

Our strategies have to grow the economy, bring social cohesion and spatial justice to all our people.

This Forum will therefore continue our conversations on how partnerships and development cooperation, on a global scale, can benefit our localisation agenda for urban development.

This is critical as we debate how we plan for industrial growth, manage urban influx and sustainable urbanization, develop rural areas and smaller towns and ensure viable municipal spaces going forward.

Our session on ‘Urban-rural infrastructure development and spatial integration’ will hopefully provide answers on some of these.

Our urban policy, the IUDF provides an urban vision and policy for South Africa and presents practical interventions for implementing the policy.

These are premised on nine policy levers. These levers provide entry points for planning and implementing optimal city environments. The key lever is for interdisciplinary spatial planning and land-use management practices that actively integrate infrastructure investments, public transport and human settlements as the baseline for the productive, inclusive, and liveable city.

These interventions are to be sustained through building more inclusive urban economies, improving the way that cities are governed, strengthening the management of city finances, and empowering communities to participate in urban design and form.

The IUDF addresses cross-cutting levers, namely the promotion of urban-rural interdependency, urban safety, and urban environmental resilience.

Our urban agenda commits us to action on these levers through mobilization of ‘An all of government, and a whole of society approach,’ which at the global level, invites our BRICS partners to support and engage with us on our mutual commonalities, challenges, and opportunities for cooperation and collaboration.


I also look forward to the session on Smart Cities. The role of technology in enhancing cities as centres of development will enable us as emerging markets and developing nations to play a more prominent role in stimulating Inclusive Growth and Shared Prosperity. This gels well with the broader BRICS theme of being positioned to take advantage of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

I anticipate with enthusiasm the high quality dialogues that will take place here, which will enable us to enhance our collaboration and also expand on the previous BRICS themes.

Our deliberations will assist us in working towards a common platform for the 10th BRICS Summit in July.

We thank you very much.

And again welcome to South Africa and East London.