Durban is famous for its year round warm weather, its beaches, its rich Zulu heritage and its friendly people. This has made the coastal city on South Africa’s east coast an ideal place for investors to do business.
However, over the past few years, the city has lost some of its shine. Corruption scandals involving the former city mayor, Zandile Gumede have swirled around city hall and are presently in court. The city’s once pristine beaches have been marred by reports of sewage in the water, and a once bustling city centre battling reputational challenges around its cleanliness and dilapidated infrastructure.
It is easy to think that Durban’s best years are behind it - but it is not.
The city is quietly undergoing a massive transformation with several multi-billion rand catalytic projects under way. These projects, aimed at boosting the local economy, creating jobs, and enhancing the city's infrastructure, are a testament to the eThekwini Municipality's commitment to growth and development.
Here are 10 projects currently under way in the city
1. Shongweni Development: This is a 2,000 hectare mixed development project aimed at creating a new economic hub in the Outer West area of eThekwini. The development will include lifestyle and tourism-based facilities, new lifestyle estates, high-quality office and business parks, freight and logistics infrastructure, as well as golf, equestrian, and leisure facilities. The project is expected to be implemented between 2021 and 2030, with an investment value of R8 billion and the creation of 8,500 jobs.
2. Centrum: This project, facilitated by the eThekwini Municipality, covers an area of 54 hectares and includes existing developments such as the International Convention Centre (ICC) and Durban Exhibition Centre (DEC). The project is divided into 10 precincts as per the Urban Design Framework. The implementation period for Centrum is planned between 2024 and 2030, with an investment value of R11.5 billion. The project is expected to create 70,000 jobs. However, specific details about the nature of the project and its purpose have not been cleared by the city.
3. Cato Ridge Freight and Logistics: This project is led by investor Lord Trust Development, AmaXimba Dev Trust, Inkanyezi Yezulu with an investment value of R18 billion. The project kicked off in 2021 and is expected to be concluded in 2026. It is expected to create 10,000 jobs. The Cato Ridge Logistics Hub is a logistics, warehousing and light industrial precinct on the N3. It includes a Mega Truck Stop and Staging, Logistics and Industrial Park, and Tank Farm.
4. Avoca Nodal Development: The Avoca Nodal Development is a project consisting of three precincts located along the N2 corridor. The precincts include the Brickworks and Northfields industrial developments, as well as the Caneridge residential development. The total investment value of the project is R10.1 billion over a period of 15 years. It is expected to create 51,500 jobs and generate city revenue of R120 million. The city's contribution to the project is R450 million.
5. Cornubia: This is a strategic flagship programme of the eThekwini Municipality. It is a large-scale mixed-use, mixed-income integrated human settlement. The project operates on a framework of public-private partnership and aims to provide housing solutions, while also creating opportunities for emerging businesses. The total investment value of the project is R25.8 billion over a period of 30 years. It is expected to create 53,000 jobs and generate city revenue of R237 million. Additionally, it aims to provide housing solutions for 40,000 people and create 15,819 temporary jobs.
6. Oceans uMhlanga (uMhlanga Rocks Village): Oceans uMhlanga is a mixed-use development located in the core tourism node of uMhlanga Rocks village. The project is facilitated as a catalytic project within the municipality due to its anticipated positive socio-economic benefits. The total investment value of the project is R4.2 billion. It is expected to create 21,200 jobs and generate annual revenue of R34.4 million. The implementation period for the project is from 2015 to 2023.
7. Midway: Midway Crossing development of Dumisani Makhaye Node is identified as a catalytic project with the potential to significantly change the local economy of Westrich and have an impact on the broader economy of eThekwini Municipal Area. The project has an investment value of R768 million and is expected to create 1,330 jobs. The implementation period for the project is from 2018 to 2021.
8. Automotive Supply Park: This project has an investment value of R3 billion. It will create 2,800 jobs and is expected to completed this year. The Automotive Supply Park is a 1,000 ha industrial park located in Illovo, south of Durban. It aims to centralise production, assembly, sequencing, and warehousing facilities for automotive suppliers in close proximity to Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) like Toyota.
9. INyaninga: This is a R40 billion investment by land developer Tongaat Hulett that is proposed to be a major multi-modal logistics hub developed by Tongaat Hulett inland of King Shaka International Airport. It is a landholding set aside for multi-use development.
10. Virginia Airport site: This is another major investment node the city is developing. It is a R10 billion investment that will start in 2025 to 2030 and create 10,000 jobs. The City owns the land where Virginia Airport is located. The strategic plan is to redevelop the airport site for mixed-use purposes, including high-end residential and commercial use.