Municipality: City of Johannesburg Metropolitan Municipality


Johannesburg is not only the financial and commercial heart of South Africa, but also one of the most powerful economic centres on the African continent. The Metropolitan area stretches over 1,644km² and is the most densely populated and urbanised municipality in South Africa, home to 3.888.182 people.

Available data indicate that the economy of Johannesburg has grown by more than 5% per year since 2001. A range of sectors has driven this growth. Construction in particular, although a relatively small part of the economy, is growing at more than 19% per annum. Finance and business services, the largest contributors to economic value, are growing at more than 9%. Johannesburg is one of the youngest major cities in the world and was founded in October 1886. The city today generates 16% of South Africa's GDP and employs 12% of the national workforce.

The majority of informal employment has taken place in the trading sector (52%). Informal sector in the construction and transport sector has grown.  Employment in manufacturing and finance has been relatively stagnant
According to a 2007 Community Survey conducted by Statistics South Africa, the province's unemployment rate declined from 30, 8 % in 2003 to 22,6 % in 2007. This trend is underlined by the downward movement in unemployment rates. 
Mining in Johannesburg
Income and Unemployment
In nominal terms, average household incomes in Johannesburg have consistently been higher than both the South African, and Gauteng equivalents. The gap has widened over the past decade and this is likely to be partially driving migration patterns to the province. Average household incomes were some R177 000 in 2005, which is more than double the national average, a third higher than Cape Town and 46% more than the average for eThekwini. Johannesburg’s average household income translates into average personal disposable income per head of population of some R51 000 in 2005.
Source: City of Johannesburg Economic Development Policy and Strategy Framework, 2008  

Critical infrastructure

Johannesburg enjoys some of the most sophisticated transport infrastructure on the continent, including multi-lane highways and a bustling international airport, voted the best in Africa two years in a row. Work will also soon begin on the continent's fastest underground train service.


There are over 9 000 kilometres of road in Johannesburg, of which all but 940 kilometres are tarred. The Ben Schoeman - or M1- highway between Johannesburg and Pretoria, the country's administrative capital, is the busiest in the southern hemisphere, and is used by some 300 000 commuters each weekday. Most of the country's multi-lane national highways meet at a massive interchange to the south-east of Johannesburg, providing the country's most advanced highway access.


The rapid growth of daily motorists commuting between Johannesburg and Pretoria has sparked a multi-billion rand initiative to build the country's first bullet train. The 80km high-speed rail link between Johannesburg, Pretoria and Johannesburg International Airport will relieve congestion on some of the busiest highways in the southern hemisphere. Construction on the "Gautrain" is expected to begin in 2005. The country has over 25% of the railroad track in Africa and Gauteng - particularly Johannesburg - is the hub of the rail network. The city is connected by rail to all the main cities and ports in the sub-continent including Harare, Maputo, Durban, Richards Bay, Port Elizabeth and Cape Town. The recently upgraded Park Station in Johannesburg is the largest commuter station in South Africa. Almost 10% of the inner city's work force arrives each day by train. Airports

Johannesburg International Airport is the passenger and freight hub for southern Africa. The airport is surrounded by vibrant and fast-growing industrial areas, with easy access to the rest of the Gauteng economy. The airport, which has just undergone a major R850-million facelift, was voted the best airport in Africa in 2004 for the second consecutive year. The biggest and busiest airport on the continent, it is now capable of handling 22 million passengers annually. The airport's development initiative brought with it spill-over upgrades for adjacent aprons and the road's infrastructure in the vicinity, including upgrades to the road network feeding the airport.

The Johannesburg area has three other, smaller airports that host commercial aircraft:

  • Rand Airport in the south east of the city
  • Grand Central airport in Midrand, halfway between Johannesburg and Pretoria
  • Lanseria airport, to the north west of Johannesburg

City redevelopment

One of the most recent developments, and amongst the most symbolic, is the R38-million Nelson Mandela Bridge, which has emerged as a landmark in the Gauteng province. The 284-metre long bridge crosses over 42 operational railway lines in linking Braamfontein and the north of Johannesburg to Newtown in the heart of the city's central business district, and is the centrepiece of a R300-million inner city renewal project driven by the province's economic development initiative, Blue IQ.

Already completed in Newtown are the first phase of the Mary Fitzgerald Square, situated in the Newtown Cultural Precinct, and the Metro Mall, a multi-modal transport and retail centre catering for 150 000 daily commuters. Work is under way on the construction of new on- and off-ramps from the M1 highway, to give direct access to Newtown for motorists from the north and south of the city.

The City of Johannesburg has set aside R1-billion for more than 170 projects to upgrade and rejuvenate the inner city and the previously disadvantaged areas.

The multiple spatial development framework projects will have a wide-ranging focus, from improving storm-water drainage and developing parks to road construction and the building of 100 000 houses.

Source: City of Johannesburg website


The CoJ is the National economic engine and accounts for about 17% of the national output and employment as well as 48% of the Provincial output. The most important sectors are the finance and business Services, manufacturing, wholesale and retail trade and Community and Personal Services. Albeit relatively smaller, the construction sector has recorded the highest growth of all sectors in the CoJ in the past three years and the sector may underpin the City’s future growth prospects.  



The lack of appropriate skills in the labour force to meet the needs of industry and business is a serious impediment to economic growth. Poor educational standards in mathematics and science make it difficult to supply industry with these important skills, and people have not been educated to develop the kind of skills and insight that business needs. The skills shortage is exacerbated by good salary offers from overseas which tempt many skilled people into leaving the country.
The legacy of apartheid still characterises levels of education across the racial groups with the Black population still showing lower levels of education particularly in the matric and tertiary education categories.

While progress has been made, the figures below illustrate the extent of the challenge that still remains in terms of overcoming poverty and improving the human development index:

  • 16% of households lack municipal sanitation
  • 15% do not receive municipal electricity
  • 3,6% do not have water supplies
  • Some 116 827 families live in informal settlements
  • Some 108 000 families live in illegal backyard dwellings
  • There are some 4 500 homeless or "street people.