South Africa - Joining together in support of urban development (April 1, 2015)

The French Development Agency (AFD) and the French Institute of South Africa - Research (IFAS) are joining forces to open a dialogue on sustainable cities and institute research exchanges between the School of Architecture and Planning of Johannesburg’s University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), the Urban Morphology Institute and the French Institute of Urbanism (IFU).

Four South African and three French researchers have met to date, in March 2014 at Wits University. A training seminar was also organized, attended by some 20 South Africans, researchers and urban planning officers, and the AFD. The work programme lasted four months. A feedback workshop and a seminar for the technical teams of the City of Johannesburg Metropolitan Municipality were held in July 2014.

The event was hosted excellently, given that in 2014 the City of Johannesburg organized the General Meeting of the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group network of the world’s major cities involved in the fight against climate change. The "sustainable cities" theme has become a key political communication issue for the Executive Mayor of Johannesburg.

Objectives: optimize French expertise in urban development

  • Better position the AFD for possible financing from the City of Johannesburg for issues of spatial transformation;
  • Establish an "Observatory of Southern African cities", managed by the AFD and IFAS in liaison with other specialized South African institutions;
  • Optimize French expertise in urban development among specialized South African universities and research centres;
  • Optimize innovative AFD programmes to support social housing in South Africa.

Actors and partnerships forged

This is a novel alliance between IFAS and the AFD, which will be sharing their expertise and urban development networks in South Africa. The AFD has been asked to contribute financially. For IFAS, this is an opportunity to join regional dynamics and to suggest comparisons with other continents from a South-South standpoint.

Different actors are associated with this programme:

  • the School of Architecture and Planning of Johannesburg’s University of the Witwatersrand (Wits),
  • the Urban Morphology Institute,
  • the French Institute of Urbanism (IFU),
  • the South African and French researchers involved,
  • the City of Johannesburg.

Latest news

A book on the research conducted is to be published by the School of Architecture and Planning of the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg.

This research programme has also made it possible to initiate a comprehensive partnership between the AFD and the Metropolitan Municipality of Johannesburg by means of a €120 million loan approved by the AFD Board of Directors in December 2014, and a technical cooperation programme to be realized partly by the Urban Morphology Institute and partly by Wits University.

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