Modelling City Inclusivity For Migrants In South Africa Cities


Global trends of rapid urbanization are reshaping the world. Today, 55% of the world’s population lives in urban areas, a proportion that is expected to increase to 68% by 2050.  95% of global urban expansion will take place in developing countries, mostly in Africa and Asia. Migration is a natural phenomenon that has shaped our world throughout history and acts as a key factor behind urban expansion. For centuries, human mobility has converged to cities, which are in turn shaped culturally, socially and politically by human mobility. Migrants is an umbrella term, not defined under international law, reflecting the common lay understanding of a person who moves away from his or her place of usual residence, whether within a country or across an international border, temporarily or permanently, and for a variety of reasons. When counting migrants and analysing the consequences of migration, who counts as a migrant is of crucial importance. Yet there is no consensus on a single definition of a ‘migrant’. Migrants might be defined by foreign birth, by foreign citizenship, or by their movement into a new country to stay temporarily (sometimes for as little as one month) or to settle for the long-term. In some scholarly and everyday usage, people who move internally within national boundaries are called migrants. Today, nearly all migrants and displaced persons, whether international or internal, are destined for cities. According to the UNHCR, 60% and 80% of all refugees and IDPs – respectively – live in urban areas.  They move to cities in the hope of finding a sense of community, safety, and economic opportunities. Cities and local governments have long played a central role as first receivers of migrants and refugees, and are playing an increasing role as duty-bearers in promoting the full realization of their human rights and ensuring their inclusion, in partnership with civil society and national governments. In this regard, whereas regulation of migration, as a state prerogative, deals first and foremost with national borders, local priorities essentially address inclusion, participation, and social cohesion. Border-centred approaches fail to grasp how cities understanding of citizenship and neighbourhood contribute to tackle many of the complexities of global migration from right-based perspectives and community driven approaches. Nevertheless, the transformative power of local approaches is often challenged by incoherent legal frameworks, narrow mandates, and scarce resources to assist all communities. The flow of money, knowledge and ideas between destination and origin cities can catalyse innovation and development at both ends, potentially making migrants key players in city growth, resilience and sustainability. Practical approaches that increase spatial, social and economic inclusion by also extending to migrants the rights to the city: Access to land, services, opportunity, as well as to an urban citizenship. Income differences and access to public services vary greatly in South African Cities. Inclusive, participatory local planning and decision-making remains a challenge within South African Cities. Migration in this age of political bounded nation states takes on new symbolic meanings and material experiences. In many parts of the world migration is portrayed as a crisis, an uncontrollable social problem for the ‘host’ country. Xenophobia against perceived ‘foreigners’ is a global phenomenon, and in South Africa this has been the case particularly against flows of migrants, immigrants and refugees coming into South Africa from other African countries. This city-wide project seeks to spatially model the Migrant inclusivity across South Africa through a statistical modelling system using the partial least square structural equation modelling. The analysis evolved various indicators such as spatial integration, public spatial integration, institutional framework


The conceptual model for the migrant inclusivity in the Cities of South Africa is to be developed and validated using PLS-SEM in this project. The most crucial phase in the construction of a model is model validation. Researchers in fields like planning are increasingly being asked to test their theories and conceptions empirically. As a result, causal modelling methods, such as Structural Equation Modelling (SEM), have become increasingly popular. A second-generation multivariate analytic strategy, SEM combines the first-generation methodologies, such as principal components and linear regression analysis, into a single tool. Using SEM, complex theories, concepts, and models can be tested since it estimates the composite relationships between variables. Studies have employed various statistical tools, like regressions and structural equation modelling, to validate models on the issue of sustainability and liveability. This project used PLS-SEM as a multivariate technique to investigate correlations between one or more predictor factors and outcome variables, either continuous or categorical to promote migrant’s inclusivity. PLS-SEM is a prediction-oriented, variance-based multivariate approach with adjustable distributional assumptions of normality needed for maximum likelihood-based SEM estimations. Using the quantitative data gathered through a snowball sampling approach of over one thousand (1000) foreign migrants across 3 metropolitan areas (eThekwini Municipality, City of Tswane and City of Cape Town) South Africa to gain insights into the challenges of inclusivity for these migrants. The project employed the instrumentality of questionnaire administration undertaken by appointed field assistants. The questionnaires considered the critical areas of city inclusivity both in extant literature and analysis to develop the indicators of migrant inclusivity and challenges of inclusivity for migrants in South African Cities. These areas of inclusivity issues include the critical sectors of educational inclusion, spatial inclusion, the institutional framework for migrant’s inclusivity, and security. Other critical issues are inclusivity in economic activities, housing, public space integration and tourism. All these issues where developed into a research instrument as a questionnaire to help capture migrants related issues which will help in the process of model development and validation using the SmartPLS Application. The SmartPLS (Version 3.0 (M3)) application assesses PLS-SEM licenced for the SARCHI Chair for inclusive-Cities was obtained for this purpose. Firstly, PLS-SEM produces the conceptual construct that connects the indicators and the constructs based on the theories and scholarly reasoning. For the model to work, it relied on the input of city dwellers as regards the facts that necessitates inclusivity in the Cities of South Africa as the dependent variable or the exogeneous variable. While, the indicators of spatial integration, institutional framework, economy, education, tourism, housing, health infrastructure and political participation endogenous or independent variable. Exogenous variables are those whose variation is influenced by factors outside the model, which affects the model’s other variables. One or more model variables explain its variation. The study reflectively specified the outer model, and the reflective indicators were applied in measuring the constructs.


This project has the following laid outcomes:

  1. Determine the significant indicators of the Migrants inclusivity as the major constructs and the other identified sub-constructs.
  2. Determine the quantum of contributions of specific indicators to the general formation of the model for migrant’s inclusivity in South Africa.
  3. Determine the path significance and correlation of the various constructs and subconstructs of city inclusivity in South Africa.
  4. Determine the predictive power of the indicators of migrant’s inclusivity and their acceptable roles.
  5. Determine the importance and the performance level of the individual variables of migrant’s inclusivity
  6. Finally determine the appropriate framework for migrant’s inclusion which is peculiar to cities in South Africa and applicable to addressing the challenges of Migrants inclusivity in the Country.

These outcomes are importance as they hold a very significant space in the social and economic development of cities in South Africa in the wake of various migrants’ citizens strive that has yearly resulted in urban conflict and xenophobic attacks in different parts of the cities in South Africa. The part model shall be as depicted in the Figure 1, 2 and 3 which shows the linkages between various aspects making up the migrant’s inclusivity discourse in South African Cities. The integrated model is governed by the listed indicators below.

NB: Watch out for full peer view publications and policy brief on this project

Principal Investigators:
Professor H.H Magidimisha-CHIPUNGU
Professor Lovemore CHIPUNGU