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Adventures in City Data: An Ethnographic Story
(Gauteng City-Region Observatory, 2022-12)
South Africa is urbanising rapidly, and its economic landscape is continuously changing as a consequence. In this context, city governments and urban scientists have long called for better access to city economic data. The National Treasury has reinforced this demand, insisting that intra-city economic data is critical in order to improve planning, performance and investment in South Africa’s cities. A wealth of data is collected by the South African Revenue Service (SARS) in the course of its routine operations assessing the tax obligations of companies and individual taxpayers. In addition to its bureaucratic purpose, this data represents an enormous potential resource for a detailed understanding of the urban economy. Until recently, this resource has been underutilised because it was not available in an anonymised and geocoded form. At a practical level, however, the significant amount of energy and time required to access, clean and align administrative datasets to make them usable is not generally understood. This GCRO Occasional Paper presents an ethnographic account of a decade-long journey in city economic data collation by the author who, as a long-term technical advisor to the National Treasury’s Government Technical Advisory Centre (GTAC), led the work on the city economic data programme in support of the first phase of the National Treasury’s Cities Support Programme (CSP). After observing the critical need for anonymised and geocoded economic administrative data in policy formulation and urban research, this paper examines the reasons for the limited availability of datasets able to show the location of economic activity and employment at a disaggregated local level. The paper details how the National Treasury’s collaboration with the World Bank in 2016 to produce the Urbanisation Review of South Africa stimulated and directed the efforts of GTAC and the Economies of Regions Learning Network (ERLN) to pursue official sources of city-level administrative data. The paper goes on to recount subsequent National Treasury/CSP collaborations with Statistics South Africa, SARS and the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) to collect and collate anonymised and geocoded city economic data from sources other than national general surveys. Despite progress, these efforts were ultimately stymied due to practical and governance constraints. Nevertheless, in a parallel process, these collaborations ultimately bore fruit in the establishment of a secure administrative data centre at the National Treasury that stores anonymised data, which can then be geocoded using postal codes. This secure data centre in turn, after the author had left the process, ultimately provided a foundation for the milestone publication of the 2021 City Spatial Economic Data Reports. The paper concludes by reflecting on the insights from this ethnographic account around possibilities for improving the integrity of the city spatial economic data resource, and enhancing its use in credible, evidence-based urban analysis. First, these conclusions highlight broader institutional and public management concerns in the current governance environment on which future steps to improve the city spatial economic data will depend. Second, the paper points out that, despite the long journey travelled, business classification uncertainty still remains. Solving these governance and data puzzles may further enhance the incredible potential that such a rich data resource holds for evidence-based policy aimed at creating a more just and equal society in South Africa.
Governing the GCR series: Displaced urbanisation or displaced urbanism? Rethinking development in the peripheries of the GCR
(Gauteng City-Region Observatory, 2022-04)
This Provocation attends to a feature of the Gauteng City-Region (GCR) – its periphery – that continues to receive very limited public and private investment yet remains home to many hundreds of thousands of largely poor people. The extended GCR has a complicated social, economic and spatial structure due to the legacy effects of apartheid. That system’s laws against free movement frustrated the urban aspirations of the African population, forcing them to stay in the extended cheap labour pools of economically unviable bantustans, many in proximity to but removed from burgeoning city centres. This system has not unravelled with the formal arrival of democracy. The GCR remains a complex functional space whose edge is not defined by the boundary of the Gauteng province. Tens of thousands of commuters routinely flow across the northern boundary of Gauteng each day to work, shop, trade goods or seek employment in Pretoria and other Gauteng cities. This flow, and the lasting social, economic and spatial dislocation effects of apartheid it reflects, has come to be symbolised by the R573 Moloto Road, colloquially named the ‘road of death’ because of the staggering number of traffic accidents it sees each year. The question of what should now be done with the still underdeveloped zones of what has historically been termed ‘displaced urbanisation’ on Gauteng’s periphery, has occupied the state, amongst other actors, for almost three decades. Focusing on the efforts to conceptualise and plan for massive transport infrastructure along the Moloto Development Corridor as a key solution to the problem, this Provocation reveals a set of unresolved divergences within the South African state. Differences of opinion and policy approach – which pivot on whether it would be better to facilitate the continued, but safer, mobility of peripherally located commuters through massive rail development, or to encourage population relocation to Gauteng’s core – have meant that development efforts have so far remained largely uncoordinated. In turn, the gains that a negotiated process around a broadly common agenda could potentially yield have remained constrained. This Provocation contends that coordination through a strategy of mutual engagement remains absent because the relevant actors lack a shared ‘concept of development’. Both sides of the debate miss the significance of the day-to-day actions of residents, formal and informal traders, civil society, traditional leaders, and other actors, who are not waiting to be moved, or developed by transport investment, but are striving to transform the zones of ‘displaced urbanisation’ they occupy into vibrant spaces of ‘displaced urbanism’. We argue that this ‘displaced urbanism’ – the innovative co-existence of formal and informal land uses and activities; prolific acts of self-realisation by local residents trying to survive and pursue their aspirations; and, in turn, dynamic local economies from below – needs to be taken much more seriously on its own terms.
Development of a downstream beneficiation strategy in an underdeveloped country: case study of the Lualaba Province in the Democratic Republic of Congo
Since ancient times, civilization has had a close relationship with mineral resources intheir various forms and their economic well-being. Overall, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is ranked as the world's leading producer of cobalt resources and reserves, which are largely exploited in Lualaba province. However, preliminary analysis and reports have shown that the DRC has failed to promote resource-based sustainable development, despite the policies implemented to date. Currently, the DRC's extractive industry faces challenges in terms of stakeholder’s engagement and participation and lack of practicality of existing mining policies, with a focus on its cobalt industry to develop a linkage-based strategy for Lualaba province. Developed countries have been able to use mineral resources to stimulate economic growth, and downstream mineraldevelopment has been touted as one of the main drivers for promoting economic growth. Aiming to examine a resource-based development approach, the objective of this study is to contribute to the design and recommendation of an appropriate policy strategythat can be translated into a set of operational actions with a tangible impact on human development. Extensive studies have been conducted to identify the real issues in Lualaba province to address the implementation of a downstream beneficiation strategy. An approach usingcomparative case studies of different successful countries proved necessary to situate the DRC with regard to its enormous mineral resources in order to stimulate the development of its economy. Open-ended (quantitative approach) and close-ended questionnaires (qualitative approach) to collect primary data (level of satisfaction of the industry participants) were made possible by addressing different categories of people deemed capable of providing reliable data (purposive sampling) which were processed using the Exploratory Factor Analysis (EFA) using SPSS software from IBM and a qualitative method (determination of themes and sub-themes) using NVIVO 11 software. The EFA was used in this study in order to be able to manipulate responses from open-ended questionnaires as recommended by Watkins (2018) or moving from an empirical state of dataset to an analytical state of measurable dataset. Preliminary results of the EFA were submitted to correlation coefficients and Cronbach's coefficient calculations to determine how the variables are interrelated and to assess the validity and reliability of EFA results.
Determining the tractor fleet size in an underground coal mine through simulation modelling
Sasol Mining is moving from its current three shift system, containing two 10 hour production shifts and an overlapping 10 hour maintenance shift (ex-cluding weekends), to full calender operations. Under the full calender oper-ations there are two 12 hour production shifts along with a six hour window shift for every day of the week. This enables the Sasol Mining complex to keep up with the 40mt/pa demand from its Secunda factory. This new shift system positions each mine for 24 hour production. The problem considered in this project is that of determining the effect of the full calender operations on the tractor fleet size by designing, developing, validating and implementing a simulation model depicting the different processes and variables at the mine. The objectives pursued in this projectis (1) to determine how the move to 24 hour operations affect the tractorsupport services, and (2) to make a recommendation to the Bosjesspruit mine regarding their tractor fleet size based on output from the simulation model. A systematic approach in the design and development of a simulation study is followed in the development of the simulation model. The simulation model output is validated through the use of equivalence testing. The results obtained through the equivalence tests confirm that the model is an accurate representation of the tractor operations at the Bosjesspruit mine. The simulation model output provides a clear indication of the impact that the implementation of the full calender operations will have on the tractor support services at the Bosjesspruit mine. Based on the output analysis, the Bosjesspruit tractor fleet will not be able to perform at the current level under the full calender operations. This model serves as a tool for decision making in a very high pressure and uncertain operating environment. By mitigating the risks associated with testing different scenarios in the real-world operations at the mine, the model enables the testing of different scenarios. Based on the analysis of these scenarios, it is recommended that the tractor fleet is pooled and that additional shifts are utilised over weekends. This will enable the Bosjesspruit mine to reduce its tractor fleet, whilst improving the performance of the tractor support services
Digitalization in the logistics industryas a support to business continuity amid black swan events
Business continuity presents itself as a challenge, especially given the global economic impact and supply chain disruptions caused by the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19), a black swan event. Digitalization refers to the implementation of digital tools that transform the current business model of an enterprise. The aim of digital tools is to provide innovative opportunities that ultimately add value to the organization. Digital tools can deliver distinct organizational advancements such as improving the information flow within an enterprise and reducing waste across the enterprise. These organizational advancements are particularly useful and even necessary in supportingbusiness continuity amid black swan events. This study aimed to investigate challenges and threats experienced by Company X, a multinational logistics company, as a direct result of the Coronavirus outbreak and how a lack of digitalization couldhinder the ability of Company X to react rapidly in response to these changes. Additionally, relevant digital technologies and its influence on the business model and culture of company X were explored. A generic qualitative research design was used to explore this phenomenon. Data collection comprisedof six semi-structured interviews, whereby the role of digitalization in the supply network of company X was explored. The findings confirmed consistency with previous research indicating that strong leadership, process standardization and data integration, a strong supportive enterprise culture with a low Resistance to change factor, employee and partner engagement, alignment in business and IT strategies, a strong emphasis on training and skills development of employees, agile transformation management and the leveraging of internal and external technological knowledge ensure successful digital transformation within an organization. The study found that a lack of resources and a high degree of complexity in underlying processes prevent logistics service providers from experiencing digital transformation. Additionally, the study found that digital tools supported business continuity during the COVID-19 Pandemic.