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South Africa is building new cities – here’s where you can find them

There is a lot of buzz lately about smart cities and new cities in South Africa. Here's what you need to know.

The town of Port St Johns will be getting a new makeover and will ultimately be developed into a new South African coastal city. This after it was previously announced that Lanseria is getting a new smart city as well.

So how many new cities are planned? And were will they be located? Let’s take a look.


The Director-General of COGTA, Avril Williamson confirmed this week that a massive overhaul is likely to take place in Port St Johns, which aims to “reimagine its future within the context of the District Development Model (DDM)”.

“The PSJ municipality is in an important position as it is located within the first pilot site launched by President Cyril Ramaphosa – the OR Tambo District Municipality – in 2019”.

Port St Johns is situated approximately 220 kilometres northeast of East London at the mouth of the Umzimvubu River. Mthatha is approximately an hour’s drive away, placing PSJ in the ideal location for a new city.


Ramaphosa back in February 2021 said that South Africa’s first smart city in Lanseria “is now a reality in the making”. The Lanseria Smart City will accommodate between 350 000 and 500 000 people by 2030.

The province will also be “coordinating efforts in unlocking investment in the City of Johannesburg, the province’s economic hub for the province and financial nerve centre in Africa.”

Makhura confirmed that stakeholders have signed off on the Lanseria Smart City Master Plan, which includes the private sector, the four municipalities involved and the DBSA, which are funding the project.

“The Gauteng provincial government and municipalities are tackling all issues that will improve the ease of doing business and enhance the attractiveness of our city region as the preferred destination for domestic and foreign direct investment”.


Construction on a new city in north-eastern Johannesburg, dubbed Zendai Modderfontein, began back in 2020 but little has been confirmed about the R85-billion-project since then.

The plan was originally set in motion in November 2013 when Chinese firm Shanghai Zendai bought 1 600 hectares of land in Modderfontein. The property cost R1.06 billion and belonging to chemical and explosives company, AECI.

Developers estimate that the project would take between 15 to 20 years to complete, and would offer between 30 000 and 50 000 housing units of different sizes, as well as a financial hub, educational centre, international conference centre and more.

“It will become the future capital of the whole of Africa. This will be on par with cities like New York in America or Hong Kong in the Far East”.

Zendai’s chairman Dai Zhikang said at a press conference in November 2013.


Ekurhuleni Mayor Mzwandile Masina announced the Gauteng Mega Project during his State of the City address in 2019. Masina explained at the time that Gauteng planned 30 new cities.

The first three projects were planned for John Dube, Daggafontein and Leeuwpoort, with the goal to create an additional 50 571 housing units in the city. The project was backed by the Gauteng Partnership Fund (GPF).

The three projects are part of some 30 new Mega Projects, designed to bring affordable housing to people without hindering their ability to find and commute to work. According to the GPF’s mandate:

“New housing delivery model that seeks to transform spatial patterns and create sustainable communities. [The] concept [is] born out of the desire to break away from sporadic, small, isolated and monolithic housing projects.”


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