Effective Governance

The explosive growth of cities around the world has put the problems of miscommunication and misappropriation of resources into sharp focus. 

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According to some estimates, more than 100 cities will have populations larger than 5.5 million people in the next 35 years.[1]Moreover, global population numbers will shift from the West to Asia and Africa as only 14 of the largest 101 cities will be in the western world in the next 50 years. If we look at the management issues of rising megacities, it is clear that government siloing– the challenge of various branches of city and national government to work together– is not only a roadblock to efficient human-centric urbanism but efficient governance full stop. 

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The city of Johannesburg, one of Africa’s hubs of economic activity, is a good example of municipal government trying to break down the siloing effect. Given the city’s history of unequal governance stemming from South Africa’s decades of minority rule known as Apartheid, Johannesburg has had to push through an aggressive form of inclusive urbanism over the last 25 years of democratic governance. The results 
have been encouraging but there is ample work to be done. 

With regards to the process of breaking down silos, the “Jozi@Work” program is of particular interest. According to the former mayor of Johannesburg, Parks Tau, “the Jozi@Work programme was designed to create an opportunity for citizens and communities to partner with the City of Johannesburg to deliver municipal services in their own neighbourhoods. In addition, it was aimed at shifting the prevailing mindset of seeking employment instead of generating employment; that is, turning job-seekers into job-creators. By the end of our term in 2016, we could confidently report that we had empowered, on average, over 1,000 cooperatives and community-based companies to co-deliver municipal services.”[2]

Even in a city as contested as Johannesburg, creative urban plans were able to break down bureaucratic barriers to ensure the proper delivery of municipal services. This is the foundation of government acting as one and a precursor to actual human-centric delivery on a large-scale regardless of the city.[3] 


[1] Vidal, John. The 100 Million City: is 21st century urbanisation out of control?” The Guardian, 19/03/2018,
https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2018/mar/19/urban-explosion-kinshasa-el-alto-growth-mexico-city-bangalore-lagos

[2] Tau, Parks. “Towards Inclusive Urbanism”Daily Maverick, 2/5/2018, 
https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2018-05-02-towards-an-inclusive-urbanism-spatial-economic-and-digital/

[3] Beatley, Timothy. Green Urbanism: Learning from European Cities, New York: Island Press, 2000