Semigration could mean boost Western Cape

Land of milk and honey, the Western Cape sees more and more people flock the province for better oppurtunities. Picture: ENVER ESSOP

Land of milk and honey, the Western Cape sees more and more people flock the province for better oppurtunities. Picture: ENVER ESSOP

Published Sep 2, 2023


Economists have said the influx of semigrants could be a positive boost for the Western Cape economy.

Economist Ulrich Joubert said that in the past, semigration in the province occurred when pensioners or job seekers were flocking to the province, but now it is both job seekers and job creators.

“Most of them work remotely and will require good internet and telephone connections. This is likely to be positive for internet service providers and telecommunications in the province,” he said.

Energy expert and economist Lungile Mashele said semigrants were not the issue currently, but rather municipal backlogs due to Covid-19.

“I personally bought a stand in 2020 and there has been major delays in terms of the administration of these processes. They (municipalities) are falling behind their own schedule,” she said.

Mashele said semigration would hold no challenges on load shedding in the Western Cape, as the province was largely not industrial.

“We are seeing more people flock into the corporate and residential spaces, so I don’t see semigration causing issues for the electricity system in the province. In June, during the evening peak, you’d see Johannessburg using about 10 000MW of electricity. The Western Cape was roughly using 2 800MW of electricity. The damage is very low because its largely residential load,” she said.

Noluvuyo Tase, from Khayelitsha - who arrived from the Eastern Cape in October 2022 - said she came to the Western Cape for better working opportunities, and since her arrival, has been able to get a few jobs.

Kennith Sengadi from the Northern Cape, a young IT professional based in Table View, said his move was motivated by the potential clientele he would receive in the Western Cape.

“My target market seemed to direct me to the Western Cape and so far it has been slow but it's still something,” he said.

Wouter Kriel, the spokesperson for the Western Cape Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning, said the Western Cape was a growing province, both in population and economically.

“By 2032, the City of Cape Town’s population is estimated to increase with 850 000 people to 5.6 million (Mangaung’s population today). By 2037 (in 15 years’ time), the Western Cape will be home to over 9.0 million people. Adding to this, is the fact that the Western Cape is a region that is being affected by climate change. We are preparing for a hotter and drier climate, which will also see more intense floods and droughts.

“We recently did a 15 Year Integrated Drought and Water Resilience Plan which looked at each municipality's water infrastructure and water sources. We then added population and economic growth projections to see what type of investment each individual town will have to make to keep up with demand.

“Electricity and water are tied together. We experienced this with high levels of load shedding when many towns struggled to keep their water and sewage systems operational. As an emergency measure, we have made R89 million. We have had a very good rain season so far this winter, and most of our dams are at 100% or very close to 100% capacity,” he said.

Dr Kevin Winter, water expert and academic at UCT, said water was a major challenge in the province, but officials had made measures to ensure water security.

“No one can be sure if this will be sufficient and it will be an ongoing challenge to find more supplies in the decades ahead. Water resources, particular water quality of waterways, groundwater and shoreline are under threat,” he said.

Energy Mayco member Beverley van Reenen said: “The City is working hard to increase generation and network capacity to cater for future growth and eliminate load shedding where possible.”

Cayla Murray, DA Western Cape Spokesperson on Finance, Economic Opportunities and Tourism, said: “To keep up with a growing population, we need a fast-growing economy, and that is why G4J aims at creating a provincial economy worth R1 trillion and growing at 4-6% annually by 2035.

“This will be achieved by focusing on infrastructure and investment that will have the widest possible impact in enabling our businesses to grow and create jobs, and by making the Western Cape the easiest place to do business in Africa.”

Eddie Andrews, the City’s Deputy Mayor and Mayco member for Spatial Planning and Environment, said Cape Town had an ambitious infrastructure investment portfolio of R120 billion over the next 10 years.

“In February 2023, the City launched this R120bn infrastructure portfolio to form the foundation for economic and urban growth over 10 years.

“We are, however, very concerned about ‘uncontrolled urbanisation’ or the growth in informal settlements and unauthorised land occupation where structures are built in areas where there is no access to basic services such as water and sanitation, and no roads,” he said.