Cape Town - The Western Cape is one of four provinces that has shown a significant growth in its share of the country’s population.

According to the South African Institute for Race Relations, this increase mainly boils down to internal migration as people seek job opportunities, facilities and housing.

Using data obtained from Stats SA’s 2011 census and comparing it with 2013’s estimates, institute researcher Thuthukani Ndebele found that the Western Cape and Gauteng had both experienced massive increases in their population over the last 12 years.

The Western Cape’s population has grown by around 1.5 million but, more importantly, the province’s share of the country’s population increased from 10.1 to 11.4 percent.

Gauteng’s population grew by almost 4 million as its share of the population shifted from 19.7 percent to 24 percent.

Meanwhile, the Eastern Cape’s share dropped by 1.9 percent and KwaZulu-Natal, previously South Africa’s largest population, dropped by 1.3 percent, falling behind Gauteng.

Ndebele said that in a country with a population of almost 60 million, these shifts were significant.

“While there are a combination of factors behind this… inter-provincial migration is a major contributor in the shift,” Ndebele said.

“Provinces offer a lot of different opportunities. In this case you have two provinces standing out - Gauteng and the Western Cape.

People are moving there primarily for employment.”

A census of inter-provincial migration between 2006 and 2011 showed that more than 300 000 people moved to the Western Cape and more than 1 million migrated to Gauteng. On the other hand, just over 150 000 people left the North West and 100 000 moved out of the Eastern Cape.

“People are naturally attracted by better opportunities. In 1990, 52 percent of the country’s population resided in urban areas. In 2011, it was 62 percent.”.

But he added that it was important to note that there were other factors behind the growth. For example, the Western Cape has the highest life-expectancy figure at 67 years, according to the Statistician-General’s mid-year population report.

“We are seeing far less deaths in this province,” said Ndebele.

Other factors included mass immigration from countries across Africa and better health care in certain provinces.

Michael Bagraim, chairman of the Human Resources Committee for the Cape Chamber of Commerce, said there was definitely a perception of the Western Cape, and particularly Cape Town, being a hub of employment opportunities.

“That’s the problem. The people who do migrate are the ones looking for jobs… And they can’t find jobs because there aren’t any here. So where do they end up?

“The perception speaks volumes of the Cape… But Cape Town simply can’t keep up with the pace of people migrating down here. It puts pressure on the province both in terms of providing facilities and on businesses who have to provide jobs.”

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Cape Argus