Economic Development in Municipalities: Metropolitan Case Studies

The South African Cities Network (SACN) and the South African Local Government Association (SALGA) have commissioned a follow-on phase to an original study exploring the economic development function in municipalities. The first phase of the study highlighted that economic development is not an isolated function and not the sole responsibility of the Economic Development Department, or Local Economic Development unit, but rather serves as a transversal municipal function. In addition, the study identified that imbedding and economic development focus within the economic development-planning-skills nexus of municipal functions is central to the ability of local governments to facilitate economic growth across the formal and informal economy spectrum.


With a focus on inclusive economic development in metropolitan cities, the study objectives of this follow-on phase are described as follows:

  • Understand the municipal economic development institutional status quo within each case study, with an emphasis on how inclusive economic development relates to the institutional status quo;
  • Inform subsequent work in which comparative and individual City diagnostics can be undertaken towards a design process for establishing general and specific organisational and institutional guidance on optimising an inclusive economic development function in cities.


Where the previous study developed case studies of four municipalities representing different municipal typologies (i.e. metropolitan, secondary city, small town, and district municipality), this phase of the study has focussed exclusively on three metropolitan cities, namely: the City of Johannesburg (CoJ), the City of Cape Town (CoCT), and eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality. Comparing similar cities with each other allows for the identification of trends, and opportunities to take forward into subsequent work on optimising the inclusive economic development function on cities. This report provides a synthesis and overview of the case studies and key findings.