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ECONOMIC and social growth in Joburg has caught the attention of the Chinese city of Shenzhen and as a result, it has called for more interaction between the two parties to share ideas.At a meeting organised by the Johannesburg Innovation and Knowledge Exchange (Jike) held at the Metro Centre on 4 June, delegates from the Chinese city spoke to Executive Mayor Parks Tau about the work done by Joburg to improve the lives of its citizens.

Speaking on behalf of Shenzhen, Wang Rong, the party secretary of the Chinese Communist Party Shenzhen municipal committee and a member of the party’s Guangdong provincial committee, said Joburg, particularly Sandton, was well recognised for its economic power. “We strongly agree with the social development of South Africa. It has drawn attention in China,” said Rong.

Many Chinese companies have set up regional offices in Joburg. In response, Tau said: “The City has been looking forward to this day and to have a mutual benefit to our crew from this visit.”

Execuitive mayor Parks Tau (Photo: Enoch lehung, City of Johannesburg)Building relationships: Execuitive mayor Parks Tau and Wang Rong exchange gifts (Photo: Enoch Lehung, City of Johannesburg)Tau and Rong spoke about transforming cities, touching on lessons learnt in their various experiences. Tau said Joburg had about four million people; it was growing at a fast rate and its population was expected to double in 30 years.

“Joburg is the economic city of Africa. South Africa is a platform of Africa therefore many African offices as well as foreign offices are based in Joburg,” he said.

The mayor also told the visitors about the process to drawn up Joburg 2040, which took place in 2011. It is a long-term Growth and Development Strategy that will guide development over the next three decades.

“We have implemented four pillars to ensure that Joburg prospers and those are: economic growth; sustainable cities; human and social development; and good governance,” explained Tau.

Joburg 2040 was an aspirational document that defined the type of society Joburg wanted to become by 2040. The City is keen to create operations and investment that will attract other cities and countries to share their knowledge.

The delegation invited the mayor to visit Shenzhen, so that he could get a better understanding of their city and to promote healthy exchanges between the two. “Our city’s management has lots of knowledge and we are willing to share it with Joburg,” said Rong.

He emphasised culture, saying that if there were regular visits between the cities, they would have a better understanding of each other. Tau will meet the Chinese delegation again today to continue discussions and knowledge sharing on making better cities.

Jike was launched in 2002 by the City as its Visitor and Resource Centre, with the vision to become a leading municipal venue for information sharing. Jike was born out of the overwhelming number of requests from external stakeholders that the City received to share the lessons it had learnt about transformation and from its experiences of institutional restructuring, which happened over the decade from 1990 to 2000.

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