The recent introduction of City Spatialised Economic Data by the National Treasury and SARS through the Cities Support Programme has been an incredible game changer for eThekwini Municipality. With the city having been negatively impacted by COVID-19, civil unrest and perennial flooding, economic recovery initiatives needed to be more spatially targeted to address economic growth in regions of the city that were affected more than others. Using spatialised tax data to analyse city economic growth has provided numerous benefits, including:
By analysing this data spatially, it has been possible to identify patterns and trends in economic activity, such as which areas experienced growth in net new firms opened, versus areas with net losses in new firms created.
Using the same data above, the Economic Development Unit commissioned an Informal Economy Survey focusing mainly on areas that experienced significant losses in firms and rising inequality. The survey outcomes will be used to inform local policies around the informal economy support programme that reduces economic disparities and promotes more equitable economic growth.
City officials in eThekwini have access to the online Durban EDGE portal where the spatial tax data is fully visualised for ease of understanding and communicating insights. The City’s Economic Research, Strategy and Innovation Department, Economic Development Projects Department, Industry Support Department, and Human Settlements Cluster have all incorporated City Spatialised Tax Data as part of their strategic planning process. This will enable them to make more informed decisions about how to allocate resources and plan for future growth.
By analysing tax data over time, eThekwini’s Economic Development Unit is monitoring the local economy’s response to its Economic Recovery Plan (Sakha iTheku / Shape Durban) across different regions of the City.
Local government departments, provincial government, the private sector, and academia have also seen a rejuvenation in collaboration. For example, the city Municipal Institute of Learning (MILE) has partnered with the Economic Development Unit to host of series of learning events to spread awareness about the new data, insights as well as use cases. Secondly, the provincial government KZNEDTEA is also collaborating with the city regarding spatial economic data for the region. The University of KwaZulu Natal’s Macroeconomic Research Unit is also actively collaborating to make use of local spatial economic data for research.
It goes without saying that because this data is provided for free, it is a significant benefit for municipalities, given their constrained budget environments post-COVID-19.
One of the most useful features of this data to eThekwini Municipality is that it can be analysed in conjunction with other administrative city data to provide a more complete and detailed understanding of the economic and social conditions in the city. Some examples of the administrative data currently being analysed with spatial economic data include:
This includes information on the population, educational attainment, age, and race of residents within wards. When analysed in conjunction with spatial economic data, this information provides insights into the economic and social conditions of different neighbourhoods and communities. It also provides insights into the skills and qualifications of the local workforce and their potential for economic development.
This includes information on property valuations across the city and adds valuable context about the category of land uses, market value and the related consumption of city services (water, electricity, rates etc.). This has allowed eThekwini to understand the various land use mixes per area and the economic outcomes related to those land uses and zoning thus informing our spatial development framework. eThekwini’s Economic Development Unit is currently undertaking a spatial trends mapping exercise aimed at understanding the relationship between building plan applications, property sales, and land use management.
Overall, spatial economic data availability represents a pivotal moment for the South African urban economy where economic data has been scarce and sorely needed for effective planning and impactful industry sector development programmes. The next steps for cities will be to effectively capacitate themselves in order to fully harness the potential of the data available.
For further information on the spatial data, methodology and availability, contact Mr Justice Matarutse : Innovation Manager on Justice.Matarutse@durban.gov.za