BRICS Cities: Facts and Analysis

This compendium and analysis of Cities in the BRICS was developed through a partnership between the South African Cities Network (SACN) and the South African Research Chair in Spatial Analysis and City Planning (SA&CP) at the University of the Witwatersrand. Since South Africa joined the BRICS in 2010, multiple connections have been forged between South Africa and its alliance partners. However, although there is a growing volume of engagements, there is still inadequate knowledge and understanding across the BRICS. There is a common understanding, for example, that BRICS countries share a range of challenges and possibilities in relation to urbanisation and urban growth; but real knowledge of each other’s urban contexts remains sparse.


This publication has two parts. Part A is the comparative and analytical overview of urban development across the BRICS, also in relation to cities in Africa. This first chapter is a comparative introduction to large cities in the BRICS, providing an overview of different histories, demographic processes, economies and development challenges. Through a comparative perspective, the second chapter addresses three areas of thematic focus, namely transportation, green energy and innovation economies. Of course there are multiple themes that could be addressed in a report such as this, but these were selected for initial consideration for their immediate relevance to areas of concern and policy initiative among the member cities of the SACN. The third chapter compares and relates BRICS cities to Africa’s cities. This addresses one of the challenges of South Africa’s membership of the BRICS: South Africa is not comparable in size to other countries in the BRICS, especially China and India, with the real comparator in terms of economy and population being the entire continent of Africa.


Part B is the compendium of Factsheets on thirty-one of the BRICS cities. Each Factsheet has two sections. First, there is general information on each city, including on history, population, spatial form, economy, urban governance, and developmental challenges. Secondly, there is the section which deals with the three selected themes.