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More explicit regional policy for South Africa, please Mr President

Ernst Drewes


South Africa has a long and well-documented history with regard to the design and implementation of national development and regional policy. With the first official policy initiatives in the 1960s, it was decided by the then National Party that a policy of separate development (apartheid) of ethnic groups had to be implemented in the national space economy. In this sense, there is no doubt about the explicit nature of this policy, as it had very specific spatial objectives and implications from the national level down to neighbourhood level. With the democratisation of the Government in 1994, this negative policy connotation led to the establishment of numerous spatial development policies without any significant ‘spatial’ application. At the moment, however, numerous national government departments implement spatial investment programmes on a spatially explicit basis, with little coordination between these spheres and sectors of government. Research has shown that, on a global level, national and regional development policy increasingly has to be focused on a selected number of cities with inherent economic agglomeration benefits. This article aims to provide a scientifically based perspective on what the policy approach of the Presidency’s envisaged National Spatial Framework (RSA, 2012) should include, i.e., an explicit and spatially selective approach focused on cities with existing agglomeration economies.

Keywords: National planning; regional policy; National Development Plan; agglomeration
economies; secondary cities