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Johannesburg

Overview

Johannesburg is located in the province of Gauteng, towards the northeast of the country, and it is South Africa's largest city. Gold was found close to present day Johannesburg in the early 1850's, with some indication that there were discoveries 20 or so years earlier. The foundation of the city took place in 1886 with its economy based primarily on mining. Around 30 miles north of Johannesburg is Gauteng's second city Pretoria, although in mid-2005 discussions were started with a view to changing the cities name to Tshwane. Pretoria is the administrative capital of South Africa and is mainly an industrial city.

Economy

Originally mining was basis of the area's wealth, but banking, commercial services, telecommunications, media and manufacturing are gradually taking over as the mainstay of the region's economy. The city of Johannesburg is home to Africa's leading stock exchange, in the form of the JSE Securities Exchange, which ranks among the ten largest stock exchanges in the world. Although Johannesburg is not one of the three capitals, it is the country's largest city and is the economic and financial focal point of South Africa. According to the World Cities Study Group & Network (GaWC), Johannesburg is a Gamma World City, as defined by a number of indicators such as familiarity of name, such as not stating the country name after the city name, active influence and participation in international events and world affairs, a lively cultural scene, the presence of large foreign companies and an advanced communications infrastructure. The province of Gauteng, despite being the country's smallest province, with the cities of Johannesburg and Pretoria, accounts for around 25% of South Africa's GDP.

Standard Of Living

The living standards of the Johannesburg area are difficult to accurately quantify; from the high-quality lifestyles of downtown Johannesburg to the poverty of the Soweto Township and all levels in-between. The city itself is home to many museums and theatres and is around 25 miles south of the UNESCO World Heritage site, the Cradle of Humankind, from where the ancestors of nearly all of the people of world originate. In some ways it may be said that Johannesburg is rapidly encouraging tourists and business alike to come home with its new initiatives. World-class restaurants, bars and clubs abound but places such as Soweto are becoming known for both nightlife and culture.

Infrastructure

The Johannesburg area has one of the most up to date infrastructures on the continent, with a rapidly growing transport network of road, rail and air transportation. The Metrorail system comprehensively connects much of the region to both Johannesburg and Pretoria, with a rapid rail transit link, the Gautrain, between the two cities currently being considered. Travel around Johannesburg is facilitated by the use of the Metrobus system and taxis.

Johannesburg International Airport connects the region to many locations around the world including Europe, the Middle and Far East, North and South America as well as a number of African countries. The airport handles around 11 million passengers each year. Within a radius of less than 30 miles, there are also several smaller airports and airfields some of which cater for domestic flights.

Johannesburg is also home to a number of media companies, covering broadcasting and printed media.

Workforce

The province of Gauteng has a population of around 8 million, with most living in and around the cities. Johannesburg is one of the very few cities around the world that realises that the past problems of their country still has an impact on the present day, in this case apartheid. Johannesburg is also one of even fewer such cities that are actively working towards improving its long-term future prospects. The Johannesburg city council has embarked on ambitious plan for the future, Joburg 2030, which aims to turn Johannesburg into a rival for cities such as London and New York by the year 2030. A study carried out by the City of Johannesburg Corporate Planning unit in the early years of the new millennium aimed to identify "the good, the bad and the ugly" aspects of Johannesburg. Unlike many city councils worldwide, the city did not shy away from disclosing their findings, such as a skill shortage due to the rapidly changing face of Johannesburg's economy and infrastructure.

The University of Johannesburg was created in early 2005, when the Rand Afrikaans University, Technikon Witwatersrand and the Vista University were amalgamated. This, along with the world-famous Witwatersrand University and a number of private Universities, is now providing the region's workforce with the required skills to further undertake the tasks ahead, and in turn reduce the high unemployment within the region.

Business Costs

According to the real estate advisory company CB Richard Ellis in 2006, prime office rent in Johannesburg stands at €144 per square metre per year comparing favourably with its European counterparts. The occupancy cost in London (West End) was €1251, while Paris, Frankfurt and Munich were €639, €402 and €360 respectively.
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