A vision for 2030: South Africa’s National Development Plan


South Africa’s National Development Plan Vision 2030 is drafted with the aim, among others, to eliminate poverty and create 11-million jobs by the year 2030.

Vision 2030 South Africa National Development Plan
Schoolchildren at Ngidini Senior Primary School. The National Development Plan states that young people “deserve better educational and economic opportunities”. (Image: GovernmentZA, Flickr)

Yvonne Fonteyn and Lucille Davie
Sixteen years. In that time South Africa will be a very different country, if the goals of Vision 2030, as set out in the National Development Plan (NDP), are met. The aim, among others, is to eliminate poverty and create 11-million jobs by the year 2030.

“By 2030 we must be able to declare that no South African lives below a poverty line and we can fix that line,” Trevor Manuel, minister in the presidency for the National Planning Commission, said in the introduction to the NDP.

Drafted by Manuel and 26 other commissioners, the plan aims to reduce inequality by 2030. It states: “South Africa can realise these goals by drawing on the energies of its people, growing an inclusive economy, building capabilities, enhancing the capacity of the state, and promoting leadership and partnerships throughout society.”

According to the NDP, the peaceful transition from apartheid to democracy must be taken further. The government has already started to align the long-term aims of national departments with the plan, identifying where policy change is necessary for this alignment.

“The NDP is a plan for the whole country,” the plan reads. “Government will engage with all sectors to understand how they are contributing to implementation, and particularly to identify any obstacles to them fulfilling their role effectively.”

The plan starts with the president and deputy president, who will lead the change, setting an example for provincial premiers and local government mayors to follow.

“This plan envisions a South Africa where everyone feels free yet bounded to others; where everyone embraces their full potential, a country where opportunity is determined not by birth, but by ability, education and hard work,” says the plan. “Realising such a society will require transformation of the economy and focused efforts to build the country’s capabilities. To eliminate poverty and reduce inequality, the economy must grow faster and in ways that benefit all South Africans.”

Opportunities for young people

Young people will be a special focus – they “deserve better educational and economic opportunities”. More than this, “focused efforts are required to eliminate gender inequality”. “Promoting gender equality and greater opportunities for young people are integrated themes that run throughout this plan.”

The commission noted that long-term shifts in global trade and investment were reshaping the world economy and international politics. Chief among these developments was the emergence of the rapidly growing economies of the Brics countries – China, India and Brazil in particular – as well as the increased growth in Africa.

Globalisation presented additional risk for emerging markets, while climate change was another factor affecting development in South Africa. The country stands to benefit significantly from regional cooperation.

Origins of the plan

President Jacob Zuma appointed the National Planning Commission in May 2010 to draft the NDP. An advisory body consisting of 26 people, the commission was drawn largely from outside the government, with members being selected for their expertise in key areas. It is chaired by Manuel, with ANC deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa as deputy chairman.

The commission’s Diagnostic Report, released in June 2011, set out South Africa’s achievements and shortcomings since 1994. It identified a failure to implement policies and an absence of broad partnerships as the main reasons for slow progress. And it set out nine primary challenges:

  • Too few people work.
  • The quality of school education for black people is poor.
  • Infrastructure is poorly located, inadequate and under-maintained.
  • Spatial divides hobble inclusive development.
  • The economy is unsustainably resource-intensive.
  • The public health system cannot meet demand or sustain quality.
  • Public services are uneven and often of poor quality.
  • Corruption levels are high.
  • South Africa remains a divided society.


The commission had to take into account the demographics of South Africa, including:

  • The birth rate, which is at 1% now and is dropping, and is predicted to stand at 0.5% by 2030.
  • About 60% of the population live in urban areas; by 2030 it is predicted to be 70%.
  • The effects of immigration, which will add 0.1% to 0.2% to the population by 2030.
  • The effects of HIV and Aids, which has stabilised at 10% of the population being HIV-positive.

To maximise the benefits of this “demographic dividend”, says the commission, the country requires better nutrition and health care, improved educational standards, increased access to further and higher education, easier entry into the labour market and greater labour mobility, which is the ability to move to where jobs are on offer. All of these factors need to be taken into account in national planning.

Goals of the NDP

By 2030 the country needs to eliminate income poverty. In other words, it must reduce the proportion of households with a monthly income of below R419 (US$42.2) a person (in 2009 prices) from 39% to 0%.

And secondly, it must reduce inequality – the Gini coefficient, a measure of income disparity, should fall from 0.69 to 0.6.

This will be achieved by increasing employment from 13-million in 2010 to 24-million in 2030; raising per capita income from R50 000 ($5 000) in 2010 to R120 000 ($12 100) by 2030; increasing the share of national income of the bottom 40% from 6% to 10%; establishing a competitive base of infrastructure, human resources and regulatory frameworks; ensuring that skilled, technical, professional and managerial posts better reflect the country’s racial, gender and disability makeup, and many other goals.

An important focus of the NDP is to unite South Africans around a common programme that will enhance the Constitution’s vision of a united, prosperous, non-racial and non-sexist society. “Although progress has been made to improve the lives of women; discrimination, patriarchal attitudes and poor access to quality education persists.

The plan deals with these factors holistically, recognising that key priorities such as education or rural development will have the biggest impact on poor women,” indicates the NDP.

In addition, citizens should be encouraged to be active in their own development. The document says that while the state “must actively support and incentivise citizen engagement”, citizens should: actively seek opportunities for advancement, learning, experience and opportunity; work together with others in the community to advance development, resolve problems and raise the concerns of the voiceless and marginalised; and, hold the government, business and all leaders in society accountable for their actions.

“The country we seek to build by 2030 is just, fair, prosperous and equitable. Most of all, it is a country that each and every South African can proudly call home. It is up to all South Africans to play a role in fixing the future.”

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