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09 November 2005

Factsheet 1: Migration into Gauteng – the numbers

Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC)
Press Release

Gauteng is the most attractive migration destination in South Africa. The population of Gauteng, which was estimated at 9.4 million in 2003, currently grows by approximately 4% (376 000) per year. A notable proportion of this growth can be ascribed to net in-migration (people migrating into Gauteng minus those that migrated out of the province). Of the 9.4 million people of Gauteng, almost 475 000 were born in other countries. 

Gauteng’s popularity as migration destination should be seen against the following background: 

  • South Africa has by far the largest economy in Africa, and only Egypt has a larger economy than Gauteng, which in turn has the largest economy of all South African provinces, with a gross domestic product per region (GDPR) of more than R200 billion in the period since 1999. During 2000-2001, Gauteng’s GDPR grew by more than 3% per cent, outperforming the other provinces.
  • Gauteng’s official unemployment rate is lower than most provinces. At 27% in 2001, the unemployment rate was slightly lower than that of South Africa as a whole, and notably lower than that of Limpopo (36%), KwaZulu-Natal (33%) and the Eastern Cape (31%).
  • Gauteng is the most urbanised of all South Africa’s provinces, and accommodates three of South Africa’s six officially defined metropolitan areas, namely Johannesburg, Tshwane and Ekurhuleni.
  • More than 92% of Gauteng’s population has access to piped water on site; 99% have access to improved sanitation facilities; 89% have refuse removal services by a local government; almost 89% of households use electricity for lighting, more than 82% for cooking, and 78% for heating; more than 60% of households have a telephone in the dwelling or regular use of a cellular phone.

From which provinces do the migrants come? The 1996 and 2001 Census showed that a quarter (25%) of all in-migrants to Gauteng came from Limpopo, and about one-eighth (13%) from the Eastern Cape and Mpumalanga. The second-largest proportion of in-migrants came from North West, followed closely by KwaZulu-Natal.

Gauteng experienced a net loss of migrants (more out-migrants than in-migrants) to the Western Cape over both periods, but net gains from all other provinces. A high net gain in terms of migration from Limpopo (38% and 33% for the two periods respectively) may be particularly noteworthy.

Net in-migration is expected to remain an important factor in the overall growth of the population of Gauteng, contributing as much as 30 per cent of the province’s annual population growth, and should be an important element in the future planning of the province. The housing, infrastructure and service needs of migrants must be met, alongside those of the rapidly growing home population.

The report, titled Poverty pockets in Gauteng: How migration impacts poverty, is available on-line at

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