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African Futures Project revises National Development Plan's population projections
23 October 2013

Pretoria, South Africa – By 2030 66,4 million people could be living in South Africa, almost 8 million more people than the base projection of 58,5 million set out in the country’s National Development Plan 2030 (NDP).

This is according to a recent paper of the African Futures Project (AFP), a joint initiative of the Institute for Security Studies in Pretoria and the Frederick S. Pardee Center for International Futures at the University of Denver. The paper, Population Futures: Revisiting the National Development Plan 2030, examines the population projections used by the National Planning Commission (NPC) to formulate the NDP.

Speaking at the launch of the paper at the ISS in Pretoria on 16 October, Dr Julia Schuenemann, one of the lead authors and a senior researcher at the ISS pointed out that ‘Understanding demographic trends is critical for government planning across all areas of public policy, and the NDP itself notes that inadequate consideration of population trends can lead to serious misallocation of resources’.

In South Africa’s case, the implications of getting the demographic trends wrong are potentially severe. The paper’s other lead author, Dr Jonathan Moyer from the Pardee Center for International Futures cautioned, ‘The NDP inadequately accounts for the effects of in-migration to South Africa, as well as migration between provinces. The assumption is that by 2030 there will be no significant flow of persons from other African countries into South Africa, and that the current trends of South African intra-provincial migration, particularly to Gauteng and the Western Cape, will also have almost ceased’.

Schuenemann and Moyer presented an alternative population projection using the International Futures (IFs) forecasting system and varying migration rates. If in-migration to South Africa continues on current trends, IFs forecasts a population of 66,4 million in 2030, well beyond the base projection of 58,5 million in the NDP.

‘It is worth bearing in mind that the NPC did not have the benefit of the Census 2011 results when making its projections’, Schuenemann noted. ‘Much of the difference between the two forecasts is likely attributable to this’. However, both lead authors reiterated that the assumption of rapidly declining migration both into South Africa and within provinces was unrealistic.

The NDP is a comprehensive strategy intended to eliminate poverty and reduce inequality in South Africa by 2030. It is government’s master plan for South Africa’s development, both at the national and provincial level. The NPC has invited input from South African stakeholders, and the African Futures Project has devoted a series of three papers to the NDP to help make it as robust and evidence-based as possible.

‘This paper contributes to the ongoing national conversation about the NDP and the future of South Africa, and can help inform policy planners and engaged citizens’, explained Dr Jakkie Cilliers, ISS Executive Director and facilitator of the launch.

The Population Futures paper is the second in a series of three AFP papers examining the NDP 2030. The first analysed the feasibility of the NDP’s GDP growth target of 5,4 per cent average, and the third will look at energy futures for South Africa. The series is funded by the Hanns Seidel Foundation.


For media interviews and further information please contact:
Dr Julia Schuenemann, senior researcher, African Futures Project, ISS Pretoria: +27 74 277 3406.


About the Institute for Security Studies

The ISS is an African organisation which aims to enhance human security on the continent. It does independent and authoritative research, provides expert policy analysis and advice, and delivers practical training and technical assistance.