EThekwini’s catalytic projects boost economic growth

At the Shongweni Urban Development sod-turning event (from left) were Cllr Thembubuhle Ntuli, ANC chief whip; Inkosi Bhekamanganga Shozi; Cllr Mxolisi Kaunda, eThekwini mayor; Carlos Correia, CEO of Fundamentum; Thabani Nyawose, eThekwini speaker; and Thanduxolo Sabelo, chair of the economic development committee. | Photographer: Thuli Dlamini.

At the Shongweni Urban Development sod-turning event (from left) were Cllr Thembubuhle Ntuli, ANC chief whip; Inkosi Bhekamanganga Shozi; Cllr Mxolisi Kaunda, eThekwini mayor; Carlos Correia, CEO of Fundamentum; Thabani Nyawose, eThekwini speaker; and Thanduxolo Sabelo, chair of the economic development committee. | Photographer: Thuli Dlamini.

Published Aug 19, 2022


Durban’s resilience as a City shines bright after the Covid-19 pandemic, July unrest and April floods dented business confidence. However, with substantial investment interest in Durban, and the many developments that are planned or nearing completion, the City is poised for economic growth.

Shongweni Urban Development

A multi-billion rand catalytic development in Shongweni is set to not only transform the face of the outer west region and uplift the community, but will also boost the local economy, tourism and invite foreign investment.

The 2000-hectare Shongweni Urban Development is an urban mixed-use development intended to create a new economic hub, catalyse further investment in the area, create employment and business, and introduce essential services to the community.

The developers, Fundamentum, have broke ground on the first 100-hectare precinct, known as Westown. This R15-billion investment will include the retail high-street offering of Westown Square, a new hospital, residential apartments, as well as commercial, business and logistics sub-precincts.

Westown, a R2.5-bn investment by Fundamentum, will catalyse further investment in the area, stimulate job creation, and bring an array of much-needed services closer to communities. The total private sector investment for the implementation of all the phases will be about R30bn over the next 15 years, depending on market conditions.

Westown is expected to be completed by the third quarter of 2024.

The City’s investment for the Westown component is R595 million towards municipal infrastructure, with the majority going towards the widening of the initial portion of Kassier Road.

In the face of rising unemployment rate in South Africa, the development will provide 30 000 jobs once complete, and will kick-start a chain of development that will see this largely rural landscape transformed into an urban core and new economic hub in the coming years.

EThekwini Mayor Councillor Mxolisi Kaunda welcomed this development, saying that it will stimulate the economic growth of the City, enabling local businesses to benefit from the economic opportunities that will be available.

“The first phase of the development will include a newly-built hospital, mall and residential areas, as well as commercial properties. This will enhance our investment plans to ensure that we attract more investors. The community will benefit through job creation and beyond construction. There will be opportunities to supply fresh produce and goods to the mall.

An artist’s impression of a close-up aerial view from Crescent towards Town Square.

“In line with our radical socio-economic transformation programme, we are pleased to announce that for phase 1(a), R200mn will be allocated to local suppliers and 8 000 jobs will be created. Once all the phases have been completed, we are anticipating that 30 000 job opportunities will be created. The launch of this development is a clear indication that attracting foreign direct investment in the City remains a key priority.

“EThekwini Municipality is rolling out large-scale spatial transformation projects in partnership with the private sector. The investment value of these projects is usually more than R500mn and (they) contribute substantially to job creation and economic growth in the KZN region. The total investment value of these catalytic projects, over the next 60 years, is R217bn.

“The leadership of the City is also seeking to improve the investment environment as it targets a high growth path aimed at substantially increasing the rate of job creation and the inclusion of the marginalised into the economy. Durban is ready and open for business,” said Kaunda.

The Fundamentum Group purchased the Shongweni development rights from Tongaat Hulett in 2016 and was scheduled to break ground in 2020, but this had to be postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Fundamentum is turning the tide on developments of this nature by leading a mixed-use urban sustainability agenda at Westown that is inclusive, environmentally sustainable, high-energy, safe and secure,” said Carlos Correia, CEO of Fundamentum.

“As a group, we have invested about R1.5bn in Durban - and our intentions for Shongweni will be another R1.3bn. I would like to commend the City for its contribution towards infrastructure and eThekwini Catalytic Projects for their support. We (Shongweni Urban Development) are only a drop in the ocean of what is to come.”

Oceans Umhlanga Development

Another catalytic project, the multi-billion rand Oceans Umhlanga development is set to bring a luxury boutique shopping experience to eThekwini.

The R4.5 billion development adjoining the 5-star Radisson Blu Hotel, which opened its doors to the public on June 6, 2022, is set in the heart of Umhlanga Rocks with breathtaking views of the Indian Ocean. With Oceans Umhlanga, tourists and locals can expect world-class offerings with numerous international and local fashion brands.

Much like the Diamond Walk Mall in Sandton, which houses brands like Louis Vuitton, Burberry and Gucci, the upmarket Oceans Umhlanga aims to attract big spenders from South Africa as well as from the rest of the continent

EThekwini mayor, Mxolisi Kaunda said the City anticipated more investors being drawn to Durban through the Oceans project.

“We are very happy and impressed by our investors because even during the hardships of the economic challenges we’ve faced, they still have appetite to continue with their investments. We are happy because a lot of jobs are going to be created here, stimulating our own economic growth as a City and contributing to our revenue. This mall brings back our tourists because international brands have not been here for such a long time. People will now spend their dollars and money here,” said Kaunda.

An artist’s impression of the Oceans Umhlanga development.

He addressed the challenges faced by commuters during the development process. “We are investing our money as a City to ensure that we build a public transport facility for taxis and ensure that buses have enough space to park. The mall itself will accommodate many vehicles, which will also unlock the challenge of congestion in this area.

“The developers have introduced a broad-based public offer to 23 000 BEE shareholders as an investment opportunity in the hotel. This ‘community ownership’ of the project speaks to the radical economic transformation ideal in its truest form. We look forward to the next phase, which is the mall opening in October this year.”

This development will create 18 000 temporary jobs and 3 500 permanent jobs.

South African property developer and businessman, Vivian Reddy said the luxury shopping experience and his latest project will open up foreign spend, attract tourists and bring international brands to locals.

“There will be 22 shops that have never been in KZN. This helps bring in tourism. The mall will be officially opened on October 19 and open to the public on October 20. (It will be opened in two phases. The second phase will open in March).

“The mall will employ about 2 600 people. Fifty percent of the tenants are black South Africans. We will have about 20 restaurants. We’re changing the face of Umhlanga Rocks,” said Reddy.