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  • Willem Badenhorst

The Draft National Spatial Development Framework

Updated: Apr 9

This National Spatial Development Framework (NSDF), the first of its kind, seeks to

make a bold and decisive contribution to bringing about the peaceful, prosperous

and truly transformed South Africa. MandalaGIS was part of the team.


Source: Draft NSDF 2019 - Map by Creativity Studio

The NSDF team was led by Prof. Mark Oranje from the Dept. Urban and Regional Planning from the University of Pretoria. MandalaGIS was part of the "Spatial Analysis Team" which included team members from the CSIR and other related expert in the fields of the environment, economy and infrastructure .


From a Theory of Change to a National Spatial Development Framework


The Draft NSDF is the very first of it's kind in South Africa. The first step in the process was to have a clear understanding of the need for a NSDF. Guided by the principle of the Theory of Change, the "realistically ideal" structure of a future South African spatial structure were envisaged. This was followed by a preparation and research phase which were followed by a spatial analysis and proposal phase.


With a broad, but well founded, knowledge of the realities and nuances of the post-apartheid South African situation, the team focused their energy on the ten inter-related national development shapers in the country. The ten development shapers include:

  1. Demographic shifts,

  2. Urbanisation,

  3. Ruralisation,

  4. Natural resource limitations,

  5. Climate change implications,

  6. Land reform,

  7. Dependency on natural resources extraction,

  8. Disruptions in the space economy and

  9. Connectivity and integration.


An deep understanding of the inter-related national spatial development shapers led the team to the next phase: A structured national spatial Vision, Logic, Levers and Outcome.

Six National Spatial Development Levers, leading to Development Outcomes, were developed, they are as follow:

  1. Urban Areas and Regions as engines of National Transformation, Innovation and Inclusive Economic Growth,

  2. National Spatial Development Corridors as incubators and Drivers of New Economies and Quality Human Settlements

  3. Productive Rural Regions as drivers of National Rural Transitions and Cornerstones of our National Resource Foundation

  4. A National Spatial Social Service Provisioning Model to ensure Effective, Affordable and Equitable Social Service Delivery

  5. A National Ecological Infrastructure System to ensure a Shared, Resilient and Sustainable National Natural Resource Foundation

  6. National Transport, Communications and Energy Infrastructure Network to ensure a Shared, Inclusive and Sustainable Economy

Putting these all together, the desired Ideal National Spatial Development Pattern for South Africa in 2050 emerged.


This enabled the team to make, what we want to achieve, more tangible and a set of NSDF Sub-Frames were developed to detail out the strategy.


  • NSDF Sub-Frame One: Inter-Regional Connectivity;

  • NSDF Sub-Frame Two: The National System of Nodes and Corridors;

  • NSDF Sub-Frame Three: The National Resource Economy Regions;

  • NSDF Sub-Frame Four: The National Movement and Connectivity Infrastructure System; and

  • NSDF Sub-Frame Five: The National Ecological Infrastructure and Natural Resource System.

Following on from the ideal spatial pattern and the sub-frames, is a set of five National Spatial Action Areas (NSAAs). These NSAAs represent the most urgent strategic spatial development catalysts to (1) bring about radical spatial transformation at scale, and (2) manage and mitigate rising national risks, and as such, require immediate national action. Concerted and sustained intergovernmental collaboration is required in these NSAAs over the short term to:

• Target context-specific, focused and catalytic national spatial development interventions; and

• Kickstart the process of aligning plans, budgets and departmental plans in and between spheres of government around national spatial development priorities


The following map indicated the location and extend of the National Spacial Action Areas (NSAAs):


Source: Draft NSDF 2019 - Image by Curiosity Studio

The project concluded with a final chapter on an Implementation Framework.

For more information, please click the this link.

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