South African Township Economies and Commercial Property Markets

Despite numerous studies on townships, research into township economies and related commercial real estate markets is limited. The majority of studies refer to the economy only as part of a broader discussion about other themes such as housing. And, while the information in these studies is useful, it is not captured and discussed within an overarching conceptual framework, which would allow the relationships and causal factors that shape and drive such economies to be understood.

The objective of this report is to develop a conceptual framework that can be used to better understand township economies and related commercial real estate markets. Existing research on township economies will also be reviewed in terms of this framework. This report is not intended to be a definitive statement on township economies or a policy position, but rather a framework to stimulate and guide discussion and debate about township economies. In so doing, it is hoped that the drivers, opportunities and constraints of such economies will be better understood, so that policy interventions to grow and manage these economies and markets will be more robust, conceptually grounded and therefore more effective.

Rob McGaffin, Mark Napier, Geci Karuri-Sebina