State of South African Cities Report 2016: The People’s Guide

The fourth edition, in 2016, “South African Cities as effective drivers of local and national development” is the theme of the fourth edition of the SoCR. It is a product of the accumulated wisdom of five years of knowledge generation and engagement by the SACN and the broader fraternity of urban development practitioners, scholars and analysts. The report’s aim is to improve our understanding of the role of cities and what is required to ensure their success.


Over the years, the State of Cities reports have presented a five-year perspective on the performance and conditions of South Africa’s largest cities, with a focus on the member cities of the South African Cities Network (SACN). Specifically, the report has evolved into:

  1. A barometer, compiling evidence about the progress made by South African cities over time in relation to key development roles, targets and outcomes.
  2. An analytical tool, reviewing the strategic problems and opportunities facing cities.
  3. An agenda-setter, communicating essential messages about the planning, development and management of cities to the next generation of civic leaders, councillors and officials who would be the incumbents following the municipal elections.


The 2016 SoCR underscores that we are all connected. With urban migration at an all-time high, cities also contribute to the development of rural areas and smaller towns. As the country faces these big issues and complicated arrangements, each and every one of us needs to play a role. We must each find ourselves in this thing called development, understand where we fit in, what futures we are driving towards, and how we can play our part. This People’s Guide to understanding the context and messages of the SoCR is meant to help in this.