Durban’s economy poses many risks and opportunities; including a combination of both a boom in new industries and significant socio economic red flags.
One opportunity includes a spike in the City’s services exports, particularly the Global Business Service (GBS) sector. This includes the spurt of call centres throughout the City, and in Umhlanga in particular. Related to this, a rapid growth in digital industries present opportunities with low barriers to entry for youth (e.g. deliveries for online shopping).
Secondly, research is being conducted on the City’s hydrogen energy potential, while a study by South Africa’s Department of Science and Innovation, its South African National Energy Development Institute and other partners found that the hydrogen economy has the potential to add billions to the country’s GDP and produce thousands of job opportunities by 2050.
Thirdly, renewed activity in the tourism sector brings more hope to the tourism economy as the President announced the upcoming removal of the National State of Disaster, and as incoming visitor numbers continue to grow. Finally, there exist temporary opportunities to replace Ukrainian exports into SADC with products from Durban, however more research is required for this.
However, the prolonged economic stagnation, as well as linked socio-economic factors continue to be the City’s major risks. The high unemployment and livelihood crisis due to fresh food, electricity, and petrol price linked inflation are major concerns; especially for City’s the middle and low income households.
Failure of state owned entities, continued load shedding, poor service delivery, further unrest disruptions (e.g. truck drivers) and failing infrastructure also remain a concern. Lastly, a potential for climate change and imbalanced biodiversity linked flooding in KZN could destabilise local markets and increase food insecurity, limiting economic growth and also increasing risk for agriculture sector investors.