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“An Aerotropolis is a planned and coordinated multi-modal freight and transportation complex that provides efficient, cost effective, sustainable and inter-modal connectivity to a defined region of economic significance centered around a major airport,” Executive Mayor Mondli Gungubele opens up, “Speed and agility are the basis of the existence of an Aerotropolis which enables connectivity of the four “Rs”, namely Roads, Rivers, Railroads and Runways.”


The City of Ekurhuleni is best suited to develop as an Aerotropolis since it has connectivity of three Rs (road, railroad, runway) and through the envisaged Durban-Free State-Gauteng corridor they will have improved connectivity with the “Rivers” through their sea port.


n Aerotropolis is also

and business partners can offer very fast and tightly interconnected

a new urban format

business opportunities all around the world. Many of these business


activities are much more dependent on far-distant suppliers or



developing around many large airports



customers than on those in the local area.


A strategic decision was taken when deciding that the Aerotropolis

infrastructures and economy are

concept would be pursued and developed further and implemented

all arranged around an airport as

in order to leverage the economic benefits of having the busiest

their central element. This means

airport on the African continent, OR Tambo International Airport,

that their suppliers, customers

located within its boundaries. It is important to note that in the South African context, airports are a national competence, whereas globally, airports are often managed by the cities within which they reside. “The City of Ekurhuleni has taken on this development as the anchor for the project and will champion related planning, together with various stakeholders that are critical for the success of the project,” Executive Mayor Mondli Gungubele tells us.

A Major Part Of The Future A major key to the municipalities’ 2055 growth and development strategy is known to be the Aerotropolis masterplan. In fact, the City has acknowledged that the Aerotropolis has developed in some form around OR Tambo International Airport, although haphazardly and in an uncoordinated manner. It is important to get the planning for this type of development right, since it will influence long term outcomes and the future economy in the City of Ekurhuleni. Proper planning will influence the competitiveness of the economy and how it attracts investors and investment to create jobs and reduce poverty, which is the ultimate goal of this development. “It is on this basis that as a city we have put in place strategic land parcels so that we know exactly which land is available for what, in line with the mandate of the Aeroropolis,” Executive Mayor Mondli Gungubele expands, “At the end of the day, the success of bringing relevant investors to the city hinges on how well we plan the land use

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issues – so that at the end of the day business is situated in an area

2 which looks at the movement of freight and the development of

where it will thrive and therefore continue to play a meaningful role

the corridor between Kwazulu-Natal, the Free State and Gauteng

in our economy.”

Provinces. Part of the Master planning process will produce modelling of the expected jobs to be created over the period of development.

According To Plan

Another key factor to take into account is the skills development

“Currently at the conceptual and design stage, The Strategic

angle particularly through initiatives like the Barlow world academy,

Roadmap provides the City of Ekurhuleni and the Gauteng Province

the Transnet rail academy and the Denel aviation academy. These

with an outline of the Aerotropolis development model and

kinds of initiatives will be crucial to ensure that the Aerotropolis has

requirements for a successful Aerotropolis,” Executive Mayor Mondli

a significant skills pool to tap into and that the issue of scare skills

Gungubele explains, “This includes consideration requirements for

receives some attention.

infrastructure and facility plans, business plans and implementation plan guidelines for transforming OR Tambo International Airport and the region into a world-class Aerotropolis.” Based on the Strategic Roadmap a process of developing a Masterplan was initiated and is currently underway. The development

Behind The Scenes In a time of financial economic crisis, it is a telling fact that the project is showing good signs for economic growth within the area and for sustainable growth for the future.

of the Ekurhuleni Aerotropolis is a long term vision spanning up

“Research in international Aerotropolis show a favourable job-

to thirty years from now. However, the building blocks for the

spin off ratio for jobs created at the airport related to those indirectly

Aerotropolis have to be laid as early on in the project as possible. Over

linked to the airport,” Executive Mayor Mondli Gungubele tell us, “The

the next eighteen months, the City will undertake an exciting process

global positioning of the OR Tambo International Airport and the

of developing the Master Plan that will provide details for specific

number of destinations it serves provides an indication of the airports

aspects required for the Aerotropolis development.

capacity and competitiveness compared to its counterparts on the

The Aerotropolis is part of the Strategic Integrated Projects (SIP)

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African continent.”

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According to Airbus, the annual passenger growth rates to, from and within South Africa will grow at 6% which surpasses the rate for Africa (5.7%), and is well above the average for the world (4.8%).

city in its rightful place of leading cities of the world.” “Critical in all this is a strategic partnership between role players in the aviation industry like ACSA and the other airlines.”

Airlines operating in South Africa will need 183 new passenger aircraft, with an estimated value of $29bn and since 2000, South Africa has enjoyed 45% growth in air traffic.

A Final, Important Word “The Aerotropolis is not about Ekurhuleni only, but Gauteng as a whole and the nation. Its success will help us create jobs and

Positive Knock On Effects

fight poverty while at the same time improving the economy of the

The Aerotropolis Project is one of the flagship projects of the

country. It is therefore imperative that people, while looking at it as an

City of Ekurhuleni and enjoys the support of the Gauteng Provincial

Ekurhuleni programme, understand that its success relies on all South

Government. The project is certainly the City’s pride with hopes to

Africans pulling together to make South Africa’s first Aerotropolis a

harness the competitive advantage that resides with the O R Tambo

success. We have done a lot as a city to realize this project and we

International Airport and all related benefits that have arisen as a

expect it to be even more clear now that we have just appointed a

result of this asset.

company to assist with putting in place the master plan. Indeed this

“Actually,” Executive Mayor Mondli Gungubele stipulates, “It

will take time, but we have made it clear that we want immediate,

is rather unfortunate that it has taken us as a city so long to take

medium and long term plans in this regard. There are various other

advantage of the fact that this airport is in our space. The Ekurhuleni

projects that we will be undertaking in line with the Aerotropolis,

Aeorotropolis is anchored around one of the biggest international

among them is the Digital City, which we believe will be a key player

global airports, a facility that is viewed as Africa’s gateway to the world.

in our future plans especially if one considers the rate at which our

A national key point that handles millions of travellers every year, so,

IT is transforming society lately,” concludes Executive Mayor Mondli

it is very important that there is proper planning in everything we do


so that at the end of the day we get a world class facility that takes our

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A Major Part of the Future