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Global Future Cities Programme celebrates one year of delivery in South Africa

One year on, the UK’s Global Future Cities Programme continues to promote inclusive economic growth, poverty reduction, and gender equality in many of its partner countries. During 2020, the programme launched transformative projects on transportation and mobility, urban planning, resilience, and data innovation in South Africa. This UK Official Development Assistance programme is working with three municipalities- City of Cape Town, eThekwini Municipality and City of Johannesburg – to strengthen capabilities for innovative urban planning rooted in inclusive socio-economic development, sustainable financing and evidence-based decision-making. This technical support continues to be delivered in partnership with PwC-led Consortium Future Cities South Africa (FCSA) and Strategic Advisor UN-Habitat.

As the programme highlight, the technical support for eThekwini Municipality offers an optimistic outlook through its approach to urban regeneration, resilience, economic development and informal settlements. This is owed to the Municipality’s innovating thinking, due-diligence and evidence-based approach to urban economic growth and development, complemented by the technical expertise offered through the Programme.

The ongoing projects in Durban enable the operationalisation of Transit-oriented Development (TOD) policy, and data-driven planning and integration of informal settlements. These projects strengthen the role of this programme in delivering the strategic objective to support the implementation of Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) by working with national and sub-national governments. Furthermore, these projects are of vital importance to the UK and in turn, the Global Future Cities Programme, given the growing global impetus on the need for green resilient cities and infrastructure to forge inclusive and zero-emission pathways to urbanisation.

As part of the UK’s climate ambition domestically and internationally, one of the top priorities is to reduce Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions in transport. In South Africa, the transport sector is responsible for nearly a third of fuel combustion linked GHG emissions. To tackle this challenge, this programme aims to deliver low carbon and well-connected urban development that fosters improved access to employment opportunities and basic services for all.

Evidently, TOD in Durban addresses this priority by integrating high-density mixed-use development with transport nodes and routes, thereby reducing the commuting hours, increasing transport affordability and activating sustainable infrastructure investment in South Africa’s third largest metropolitan economy. If implemented successfully, the TOD vision is expected to result in access to safe, affordable and quality transport for nearly 85% of Durban’s residents, thus increasing access to opportunities and improving lives and livelihoods. TOD will benefit businesses, governments and residents alike and create jobs while promoting sustainable investment in infrastructure in South Africa’s third largest metropolitan economy.

Sea Cow Lake informal settlement


The second project of data-driven Informal Settlements Information Management Solution (ISIMS) will ensure evidence-based management and integration of the City’s nearly 290,000 households within informal settlements. As a coastal city, Durban’s increasing vulnerability to the impacts of climate change amplifies the urgency and gravity of such macro-scale projects. It also means that the UK’s support and partnership with eThekwini Municipality must demonstrate inclusion and empowerment of vulnerable communities while building broader resilience in the City’s environmental, social and economic fabric.

Collectively, these two projects have already demonstrated remarkable progress in the face of unforeseen circumstances due to Covid-19. Drawing from the FCSA’s UK and South African expertise, and reinforced by eThekwini Municipality’s leadership, year 2020 concluded with a TOD Vision for Durban, and fundamental data governance principles for the ISIMS.

Furthermore, in April 2020 Global Future Cities Programme was able to expand, adapt and offer a funding uplift in response to Covid-19 crisis in cities. Through this uplift, eThekwini Municipality expanded upon ongoing FCSA assistance to manage the shocks induced by the Covid-19 pandemic with support to develop an economic model to assess the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the economy in Durban and review the potential impact of economic policy interventions in addressing the Covid-19 induced recession. In addition, a high-level sustainability filter was developed and tested on some of the projects, which form part of the Municipality’s economic recovery plan, to ensure that economic recovery is both sustainable and equitable. The second area of support focussed on technical support to gather and assess data from different municipal departments and informal settlement communities, to facilitate informed and efficient service delivery (i.e. water, sanitation and waste removal) for informal settlements.

The programme is also investing in knowledge sharing, based on the lessons learnt from Covid-19 recovery support, with its South African and international stakeholders through City-to-City dialogues and webinars.

Overall, Global Future Cities Programme through its cutting-edge work in cities such as Durban has proven instrumental in delivering on this global development programme’s commitments to greater ambition on inclusive and sustainable urban economic growth. The UK programme values its partnership with eThekwini Municipality and looks forward to continued cooperation for greener, resilient and inclusive development.

For more information contact:

For Programme Coordination: Dr Debra Roberts, Sustainable and Resilient City Initiatives Unit, Jo Douwes, Environmental Planning and Climate Protection Department  and Manisha Maganlal, , Environmental Planning and Climate Protection Department

For the ISIMS Project:  Sakhile Nkabinde, Information Management Unit, and Faizal Seedat,  Human Settlements Unit

For the ETOD Project: Manoj Rampersad,  eThekwini Transport Authority





Motorists, commuters, public transport operators and residents’ in the Newlands area are advised of the traffi c deviation on Musa Dladla Drive and Inanda Road, Newlands East. This is due to construction work of the GO!Durban C1 Route. The deviation of traffi c will commence from 22 February to 30 April 2021. The work on Musa Drive will be conducted in two phases, as follows:

The eThekwini Transport Authority urges for co-operation from local residents and motorists and recommends that commuters/drivers seek and make use of alternative routes, should they wish to avoid any possible inconvenience.




GO!Durban Cycle Academy celebrates five years of youth development

Riders and coaches at the KwaDabeka Bike Park celebrate the 5th anniversary of the GO!Durban Cycle Academy. Image by Tyron Mackenzie


The Cycle Academy was launched in 2016 as a joint initiative between the eThekwini Transport Authority and Green Corridors NPC, and fast made its way to being recognised as Durban’s leading youth development and active mobility programme. It provides free cycling training, academic support, and life skills opportunities to youth at four sites in the heart of communities in Inanda, Chesterville, KwaDabeka, and Kwamashu.

Now the largest cycling development programme in South Africa, the Academy has 400 beneficiaries between the ages of 6 and 18 years at these sites. The primary objective is to offer recreational cycling at a grassroots level, but talented riders are recognised and selected to participate in provincial and national events based on technical ability as well as their school academic results according to the “no pass, no race” rule. The programme is the only cycling development academy in South Africa to cover all five Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI)*disciplines of mountain biking, i.e. XCO (Cross-Country Olympic), Marathon, Pump Track, Downhill and Enduro.

As a pioneer in the discipline of pump track in South Africa, the Academy is home to three world-class Velosolutions pump tracks and has hosted two Red Bull Pump Track World Championships qualifier events (2018 and 2019) at the first track built in the province in KwaDabeka.

“It takes our community to another level and makes our kids united. They have fun, learn respect, and get skills for cycling and school.”

Jabulile Dlamini, Mother of Sfundo Dlamini (age 14) – Inanda Bike Park

Setting the precedent for similar programmes across the country, the Academy won the Sports Development Programme of the Year Award at the 2019 Hollard Sport Industry Awards. The awards celebrate outstanding accomplishments in the South African sports industry, and the Academy was recognised for its holistic approach to youth development, achievements within the sport of cycling, and its positive impact on the community. In addition to improving the lives of its direct beneficiaries, the programme creates gainful employment for a number of bike park staff including coaches, bike mechanics, trail builders, tutors, cleaners and caterers.

A key focus in the last two years has been female development, and the programme made history in 2019 when it produced the first Black female riders to ever compete in the KZN Gravity series (Downhill and Enduro MTB), as well as represent the province of KwaZulu-Natal at the Spur High School MTB League national finals in October 2019.

In 2019, the programme expanded to include a musical theatre academy where youth are enrolled in singing, dancing and acting classes. Every year, this academy stages an original “edutainment” production in the local communities which creates an opportunity for the youth to showcase their talents while at the same time delivering an important message to the audience.

The programme has continued to invest in the success of the youth during the Covid-19 pandemic. This included providing monthly food packs to all members, as well as adapted academic support where Mathematics and English tutors conducted Whatsapp sessions with Matric students to assist them in preparing for their final examinations.

“Awande loves riding a bike and there is a lot of improvement in her school work. It is important to have the academy in our community because it takes our kids off the street and provides a healthy lifestyle for them.”

Phumelele Sibiya, Mother of Awande Sibiya (age 12) – KwaMashu Bike Park

“We began the GO!Durban Cycle Academy as a proactive way to encourage a culture of active mobility within communities who would not usually have had access to cycle training and equipment,” explains Head of the Ethekwini Transport Authority, Thami Manyathi.

“Little did we envision that this would become so much more than just a place to learn to cycle. We have seen how, through the care and efforts of the managers, coaches and teachers, these youths’ lives have changed with improved academic results and cycling abilities, as well as greater involvement and commitment to the sport, and their communities. Thanks to all in the City and our private sector partners for believing in this worthwhile programme.”

For more information about the GO!Durban Cycle Academy please email or follow the programme on Facebook and Instagram.