July 9, 2003

44,8 million call South Africa home

South Africa’s population had grown to 44 819 778 people in 2001, up from 40 583 573 in 1996, Statistics SA revealed yesterday in officially handing over to President Thabo Mbeki its hefty, 17-volume Census 2001 report.

“Without a shadow of a doubt the annual GDP (gross domestic product) growth is larger than the annual population growth over that period,” said Finance Minister Trevor Manuel. He said per capita household income had risen 7% between 1996 and 2001 – just over 1% a year. This represented a “modest, but respectable” real average increase in living standards. “On average, South Africans are better off than in 1996, though undoubtedly some South Africans are worse off,” he said. The issue was how the Census results tied into income and the challenge, the matter of income distribution and resulting increase in quality of life, on which work could begin in earnest now that the results were out, said Manuel.

Most South Africans live in KZN, with its 9 426 017 residents in 2001 accounting for 21% of the total population, and an increase from 8 417 021 in 1996, said Stats SA Deputy Director-General, Dr Ros Hirschowitz. It was followed by Gauteng with 19,7% of the population, at 8 837 178, up an “enormous” 1,5 million from 7 348 423 in 1996, she said. The population of the Eastern Cape rose from 6 302 525 to 6 436 763, Free State from 2 633 504 to 2 706 775, Limpopo from 4 929 368 to 5 273 642, Mpumalanga from 2 800 711 to 3 122 990, North West from 3 354 825 to 3 669 649 and Western Cape from 3 956 875 to 4 524 335. The only province where there was a decrease was the Northern Cape, which also had the smallest population, even though it was the largest in the area. There it went down from 840 321 in 1996 to 822 727 in 2001, representing 1,8% of the total population. “We are seeing an increase of people moving into provinces with large Metropolitan areas,” said Dr Hirschowitz.

Migration patterns showed most people heading for Gauteng, which had an influx of 400 000 people from other provinces. Of those who had left Gauteng, 15% went to KZN, 18% to North West and 20% to the Western Cape. More than a third of Eastern Cape migrants went to the Northern Cape, a quarter to KZN and a quarter to Gauteng, while just under a half of Free State migrants moved to Gauteng, with another group going to North West. KZN, Mpumalanga and North West migrants went largely to Gauteng, as did those in Limpopo, although here there was also some movement to Mpumalanga. More than a third of Northern Cape migrants moved to the Western Cape, some to North West and Gauteng. (Sowetan)

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