A pressing issue for many South African municipalities is how to invest in the infrastructure of historical townships that were originally designed as purely residential areas with little provision of space and infrastructure to support economic activities. With growing income disparity, support for viable small, medium and large businesses is crucial. But each city, town and neighbourhood has different characteristics, and key to successful intervention is a well informed understanding of the structure of each local economy. This work supported by the South African Cities Network and the CSIR makes a significant contribution to conceptualising and beginning to measure the active and latent sectors of each township economy.
A great deal of work has been done on how people create rentable living space, and on how small businesses are run within houses. These activities can only grow as far as the space allows, and the emphasis of this work is on other sectors which operate beyond the residential plot such as agriculture, manufacturing, retail, business services, transport and tourism. Here there is greater potential for sustainable growth.
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