KwaZulu-Natal (KZN)is South Africa’s second-most populous province, home to 12.4 million people according to the results of the 2022 census. This puts the province alongside Gauteng and the Western Cape as the country's most significant demographic centers. KZN contributes approximately 16% to South Africa's GDP.
The majority of the population in KZN are Black Africans, with isiZulu being the dominant language spoken by 80% of the population, followed by English at 14.4%. In South Africa, 61.2% of the population is under 35 years old, highlighting a youthful demographic. This trend is reflected in KZN, where the median age in 2022 is 27 years. Disparities in median ages exist between population groups in South Africa; the median age for Black Africans is 27years, significantly lower than that for the White population at 45 years. This age disparity is a result of historical, demographic, and socioeconomic factors that have influenced living conditions and access to quality-of-life amenities, affecting the health and longevity of different population groups.
In terms of gender, South Africa's population of 62-million is 51.1%female and 48.5% male, with women generally outliving men. KZN has a slightly higher proportion of females 52.4%, totaling 6.3 million in 2022. The majority of households in South Africa are headed by females, at 49.6%. In KZN, this figure is even higher, at 53.1%. KZN women have traditionally played a central role in the family and domestic affairs, especially when males migrate to other provinces for work, and this pattern has persisted to some extent.
South Africa saw a significant increase in immigrants in 2022, more than doubling since 2001, with a smaller but noteworthy increase from 2011 to 2022.KZN experienced a negative net migration of 10,067 people from 2011 to 2022,indicating that more people left the province than arrived. Migration flows show that KZN primarily sends people mostly to two provinces: Gauteng and the Western Cape. In Gauteng, KZN ranks as the second highest sending province, while in the Western Cape, it is the fourth highest.
Nearly three-quarters (74.2%) of the population aged 5 to 24 years in the province are attending some form of schooling. The proportion of the population aged 20 years and older with no schooling has declined from 10.7% in 2011 to8.3% in 2022. Additionally, enrolments in higher education have risen from 9%in 2011 to 10.4% in 2022. This trend serves as a positive indicator, suggesting a commitment to human capital development, which equips individuals with the skills and knowledge necessary for active participation in the economic ecosystem. However, educational disparities persist along racial lines in South Africa, particularly during the transition from secondary to tertiary education. Access to certain fields of study in post-secondary education also remains sex segregated. These issues are likely to be reflected in KZN as well, given that the province mirrors the nation's broader demographic and social structures.
KZN has seen marked improvements in basic services and infrastructure over the last decade. The most significant increase was in access to electricity for lighting, which rose to 96.7% in 2022. Another notable improvement was in formal dwellings, a surge to 86.8% in 2022. Additionally, there was a rise in the percentage of households with flush toilets connected to sewerage systems, reaching 58.9%, and in those with piped water in dwellings, at 51.8%, compared to the previous census. These trends imply improved living conditions. Furthermore, the percentage of households benefiting from a weekly refuse disposal service increased to 57.7%, which is positive for public health and sanitation. Overall, these improvements contribute to enhanced living conditions and have the potential to reduce health-related economic burdens.
Durban serves as the economic hub of KZN and is the main cargo port in South Africa, providing critical services to the interior of Southern Africa and contributing to the country's trade and logistics. The population of Durban has grown from 3.4million in 2011 to 4.2 million in 2022. The rise in the working-age population(15-64) from 69.9% in 2011 to 72.2% in 2022 outstrips the province's 66.4%,signifying a potentially expanded labour force ready to participate in the economy. While this is a positive trend, it also implies that there is a need for job creation. The increase in population not only means a larger consumer base but also puts pressure on infrastructure, services, and job creation.
In Durban, the proportion of the population aged 20 and older that has not attended school increased marginally from 4.3% in 2011 to 4.4% in 2022.This trend is concerning and makes improving access to education a priority, as it is key to developing a skilled workforce. On a positive note, enrolment in higher education among those 20 years and older has risen from 12% in 2011 to12.9% in 2022. This increase in the enrolment rate is a positive indicator, suggesting that more individuals are gaining access to education which contributes to a more skilled workforce and is closely correlated with better job prospects.
Durban on a Positive Trajectory in terms of Living Conditions and Basic Service Provision
Durban has seen a significant improvement in housing and infrastructure over the past decade. The percentage of formal dwellings increased from 78.8%in 2011 to 89.2% in 2022. Additionally, access to piped water in homes escalated from 59.8% to 69.8%, a substantial improvement compared to 10 years ago when only half of the residents had this amenity. The proportion of households with flush toilets connected to sewerage systems also saw a notable increase, rising from 67.8% to 80.4%, which positively impacts sanitation and overall living conditions. The percentage of households benefiting from weekly refuse collection services improved from 80.7% to 85.6%, a trend that augurs well for public health. Furthermore, access to electricity for lighting rose from 89.9% to 98.5%. These collective advancements significantly contribute to the well-being and productivity of Durban's residents.
KwaZulu-Natal(KZN) is a demographic powerhouse with a youthful population, offering both opportunities and challenges in the broader economic landscape. Durban stands out as an economic hub, experiencing rapid growth in both population and the working-age segment. On the educational front, the province is making strides in enrolment but faces persistent racial and gender disparities. Infrastructure and services have improved in both the province and the city, although the pace must accelerate to keep up with population growth. Some of these improvements mirror the trends in the broader country. Government needs to leverage the province and the city's positive indicators while working to remove other stumbling blocks on the path to sustainable economic development.
Statistics South Africa. (2023). Census 2022Products. (Online) https://census.statssa.gov.za/#/