Municipality: uThungulu District Municipality


uThungulu House
Krugerrand Street, CBD
3900 Richards Bay , KwaZulu-Natal
South Africa
Phone: 035-799-2500
Fax: 035-789-1641
16° 39' 26.0784" S, 21° 49' 7.8528" E
KwaZulu-Natal ZA


UThungulu District Municipality is situated in northeastern KwaZulu-Natal and is made up of the six local municipalities of Mbonambi, uMhlathuze, Ntambanana, uMlalazi, Mthonjaneni and Nkandla. A flat coastal region comprises the Natal coastal belt and the Zululand coastal plain. Inland, the lowveld to the northeast and the Eshowe block to the west are hilly. To the northwest the terrain is more extreme, with steeply incised valleys.

The N2 highway is a link to other economic centres, in particular the national economic powerhouse, Gauteng Province. The most important rail link is the coal line from Mpumalanga Province via Vryheid to the Richards Bay coal terminal.

The significant economic centres that shape the district are Richards Bay, whose harbour facilities are world class and have been the prime reason for large-scale industrialisation in the district, and Empangeni, an industrial and service centre whose higher-order services attract people from many rural settlements.  

The district has a population of 905,383 and stretches over 8,213.39 km². The largest contributer to the economy is manufacturing (51%), transport (15.1%) and agriculture (9.5%). Most people are employed in the community, social and personal service sector, followed by agriculture and the wholesale and retail trade sector.

Critical infrastructure

The road infrastructure is under increasing pressure, particularly from heavy vehicles, highways and the adjacent network are simply not able to keep pace with demands placed on them.

Furthermore, there are enormous backlogs in service infrastructure, especially in rural areas. 41% of households have no access to piped water and only 17% have water inside their dwelling. 35% use pit latrines, mostly without ventilation, and 28% have no saniation provision at all. Just over half of the population has electricity for lighting, while 42% still rely on candles.  


The district has climate conductive to agriculture and tourism and has significant natural ressources. Major land uses are commercial agriculture (sugar-cane in the low-lying coastal belt and citrus, vegetables and subtropical fruit in irrigated areas), forestry, mining, traditional farming, urban areas that are expandingand industrial development in the Empangeni-Richards Bay complex.

The district has a borad-based tourism appeal, from bird-watching to luxury accommodation and cultural events. Tourism development is focussed on coastal resources, eco-tourism, wildlife and hunting. There are nature reserves at uMlalazi, Amatikulu, Enseleni, Ongoye Forest, Dlinza Forest and Nkandla Forest. 


Pockets of wealth are surrounded by vast areas where many people live in abject poverty. Rural poverty, rampant crime and the HIV/AIDS pandemic are major challenges to meet. 

While Approximately 80% of the population lives in rural areas and more than 50% are younger than 19 years, only 6% have a tertiary education and 52% are not economically active.