THE CITY OF JOHANNESBURG - A WORLD CLASS AFRICAN CITY

Johannesburg is a city of contrasts with a vibrancy that can be attributed to its diverse people. It is best described as a melting pot of cultures, classes and races. This diversity is highlighted by the city’s architecture. From the modern silver, glass and chrome of Sandton, to traditional colonial architecture found in the city center, as well as colourful patterns and designs of townships such as Alexandra and Soweto.

Johannesburg, as Africa’s most advanced city, can proudly count itself among the world’s greats, standing toe-to-toe with the likes of Berlin, London, New York, Shanghai, Sydney and Berlin. Johannesburg’s infrastructure, telecommunications, airports, conference facilities and amenities are comparable to those in the world’s most advanced cities.

The city is also ranked as the leading financial hub of Africa. As such, it is viewed by many international businesses as the gateway to Africa, with many having set up headquarters in the Johannesburg as their first foray into Africa.

From banks, to fashion, to fast food, all the big-name brands are finding their African feet in Johannesburg. Leveraging off the city’s top-rate financial services, airports, medical care, education, communications, road infrastructure, transport and power, these companies are well poised to enter the next world economic powerhouse: Africa.

By 2030, Johannesburg is expected to be the largest in Africa in terms of GDP; a statistic the City of Joburg is not leaving to chance. The City abounds with initiatives that seek to make Johannesburg the business hub, entrepreneurial hub, medical hub, education hub and tech hub of the continent.

 

CREATING FUTURE LEADERS AND INNOVATORS

The City of Joburg is striving to achieve economic sustainability by adopting a strategy which encompasses promoting innovation and developing entrepreneurs and small and medium sized businesses (SMEs), who in turn will facilitate job creation. The city has a number of programmes and initiatives on the go to aid in this endeavour.

In 2015 the City of Joburg offered support to more than 7,500 entrepreneurs. Johannesburg is further developing entrepreneurs through entrepreneurship funding programmes like Soweto Business Stars, and hosting the DEMO Africa 2016 conference and the Global Entrepreneurship Congress in 2017.

AFRICAN BUSINESS HEADQUARTERS

Johannesburg is the destination of choice for any business looking to establish an African footprint. The sophistication of doing business, city infrastructure, ease of access to South Africa, Africa and the world make it the stand-out business city in Africa.

South Africa is renowned for world-class financial services industry, which was ranked 12th out of 140 countries in the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Global Competitiveness Report 2015-16 for financial market development. This status is amplified by the fact that Johannesburg is home to all of South Africa’s major banks which include FirstRand, Standard Bank, Nedbank, Barclays-Absa and Capitec. The city is also hosts a number of international banks like Bank of China, Bank of India, Deutsche Bank and Mercantile Bank, to name a few.

The Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE), Africa’s largest stock exchange, is also located in the Sandton CBD. In existence for more than 130 years, the JSE has been recurrently named the best-regulated stock exchange globally by the World Economic Forum (WEF). The JSE is ranked in the top 20 exchanges around the world, sharing the stage with the likes of the New York Stock Exchange, NASDAQ and the London Stock Exchange. The City also houses the headquarters of most of South Africa’s leading corporations and parastatals, including mining houses, construction firms, manufacturing, telecommunications, retail and then the government-owned South African Airways, Transnet, Telkom and Eskom.

WHAT TO EXPECT FROM THE CITY OF JOBURG

Mobile Connectivity

It is home to the headquarters of South Africa’s three telecommunications giants, MTN, Vodacom and Cell C, the city has 4G coverage across all of its major centers and suburbs. Buying mobile and data SIM cards is affordable, as most retailers sell SIM card packages for as little as R1 and nearly all retailers sell airtime vouchers, in varying denominations, for all of the country’s mobile operators. South Africa, however, requires that all mobile SIM cards are “RICA’d,” so travellers are urged to have proof of address (hotel or residential) with them, and their passport.

Flying to Johannesburg
Johannesburg connects the nine provinces and the world – through a network of flight routes from all the continents. South African Airways alone flies to more than 40 countries globally. The world-class road network in and around Johannesburg also makes getting to and from all of South Africa’s major centres easy. The country boasts the best airports on the continent with Johannesburg’s OR Tambo International Airport, repeatedly ranked as the best in Africa. OR Tambo was listed as the 26th best airport globally by air transport research firm Skytrax in 2014.

Getting around: Road and Rail

Johannesburg is a modern city with sophisticated infrastructure. Getting around has never been easier. With the recent R20 billion (US$1.3 billion) upgrade to Gauteng Province’s freeways, Johannesburg boasts some of the most modern highways in Africa, and the world. These roads also provide easy access to all major centres in South Africa including Cape Town, Durban, Bloemfontein, and South Africa’s neighbours, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Mozambique.

If you would like to hire a car, Johannesburg offers outstanding car rental companies with most of the big international brands represented: Avis, Hertz, and Europcar along with leading South African rental agencies such as Tempest Car Hire and Imperial. Car rental companies are all conveniently located at OR Tambo International Airport and Lanseria Airport, and within the various commercial districts of the City. Most offer a delivery and collection service, making hiring a car in the city highly convenient.

If you are not keen to drive around the city, Johannesburg also offers a myriad of car and taxi services, with Uber being the most internationally recognized name in the market. Safe reliable drivers will collect you within 15 minutes of your request, and will take you virtually anywhere you would like to go for very affordable rates. For more information on Uber Johannesburg visit: www.uber.com/cities/johannesburg/  or simply use your Uber App.

Johannesburg also offers modern public transport options. The city’s state-of-the-art modern Gautrain system connects travelers from OR Tambo to major commercial centers within 12 to 40 minutes. The train currently runs between OR Tambo International Airport to Pretoria, going north; and Sandton, Rosebank and the city centre going west. The Gautrain offers world-class efficiency, together with pristine carriages and an extremely safe environment. For train times and routes visit www.gautrain.co.za and Gautrain tourist map http://www.gautrain.co.za/img/map/Map.pdf

Rea Vaya is Johannesburg’s rapid bus transport service. The service operates within the city centre precinct as well as extending out suburbs within Soweto including Thokoza, Dobsonville and Maponya Mall. For route maps visit www.reavaya.org.za

Accommodation

South Africa has a proud heritage of producing some of the Africa’s top hotel brands. Sun International, Tsogo Sun, Protea (now part in the Marriott stable of hotels), African Pride Hotels and the City Lodge Group (to name just a few) are all home-grown chains which can hold their own on the world stage.  In addition Johannesburg boasts countless top boutique establishments that ooze African charm and make any stay in the business hub of Africa both luxurious and enchanting, while offering state-of-the-art facilities.

Johannesburg is also home to top international chains including the Hilton, Hyatt and Holiday Inn. The Johannesburg hospitality industry prides itself on the quality of the service it offers. Nearly all hotels in the city will arrange airport transfers for their guests, have a dedicated concierge, and can assist visitors with a range of tourism options to match their interests, budgets and length of stay.

Business Tourism: Conferences and Events

In 2014, South Africa hosted 124 international and regional business events. That same year, South Africa was ranked 32nd in the world as a business event destination, putting the country ahead of Hong Kong, the United Arab Emirates, New Zealand and Morocco. In 2014, the International Congress and Conventions Association (ICCA) ranked South Africa as the top African country for hosting international events.

This ranking is not surprising given the top-class event venues in Johannesburg and around the country. The world-class Sandton Convention Centre, located in the heart of the Sandton business district in easy reach of one of South Africa’s largest malls, Sandton City, and several five-star hotels, is a multi-story venue that offers 22,000m² of convention, exhibition and special event space. The largest venue in the facility can host 4 500 guests.

Things To Do

The City of Joburg offers a fascinating history, delightful diversity and vibrant communities. The city has a wealth of tourist attractions, shopping malls, restaurants and entertainment complexes that house restaurants, casinos and theaters. “I’m bored” is not a phrase that can easily be used while visiting Joburg. Whether, you’re a businessman spending a night in the city, or a tourist wanting a few days to explore, Johannesburg offers something for everyone.

  • Apartheid Museum – Located in the South of Johannesburg in the Gold Reef City complex, the museum is dedicated to South Africa’s 20th century history.
  • Constitution Hill – Located in Braamfontein, central Johannesburg, this museum tells the story of South Africa’s turbulent past into its modern-day constitutional democracy.
  • Hector Pietersen Memorial and Museum - Commemorates the role the country’s students played in the struggle against apartheid.
  • Liliesleaf – This is the farm that was secretly used by ANC activists in the 1960s. It is located in the Johannesburg suburb of Rivonia.
  • Vilakazi Street – Once home to two Nobel laureates, former South African President Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, this street is now one of the most famous in South Africa, and one of the main tourist locations in Soweto.
  • Satyagraha House –Visit this small intimate museum, which was Mohandas (Mahatma) Gandhi’s house from 1908 to 1909. This house features a small B&B and will also serve a vegetarian lunch in their tranquil garden.
  • Johannesburg’s Red Bus Tour will take you to some of these sites with its hop-on, hop-off system, as well as additional places of interest that will doubtless delight tourists. Look out for the SAB World of Beer, Gold Reef City and the Carlton Centre.
  • Shopping Malls like Sandton City, in the centre of the Sandton business hub; the Mall of Africa, Midrand; Eastgate, close to OR Tambo International; and Rosebank Mall, a hop and a skip from the Rosebank Gautrain station are all shopping venues that play host to top international and local brands.
  • There is nothing a resident Joburger enjoys more than a food or craft market. The City abounds with weekend markets that will titillate the taste buds and dazzle the senses.The Rosebank Rooftop Market is the City’s most famous market, boasting an abundance of African crafts from the traditional to the more contemporary. The Market on Main, located in Johannesburg’s trendy Maboneng precinct, is an up-market event that offers a range of foods and South African design. Neighbourgoods Market in Braamfontein is another foodie’s delight, abounding with fresh, organic food and wine, sweets, pastries, cakes and artisan coffee.
  • Monte Casino, Emperors Palace, Gold Reef City and Carnival City all offer top-class gambling facilities, restaurants, casinos and theatres. The city has a vibrant theatre scent and tourists are sure to find a production to suit their mood, whether it be a Broadway-style production, a musical, comedy, local production or dance.
  • The City of Joburg also boasts wonderful independent theatres including the Market Theatre, which established in 1976 was known as South Africa’s ‘Theatre of the Struggle’. Another venue to look out for is the Johannesburg Civic Theatre which hosts a number of classical ballets, comedies and dramas.
  • Joburgers are adventurous eaters so there is no shortage of global cuisine choices in the City. African, Moroccan, Mexican, Italian, Portuguese, German, Far Eastern and Middle Eastern are just a few of the choices that are available. Visit www.eatout.co.za or www.dining-out.co.za, or www.zomato.com. You can also download the Zomato app on your phone for a comprehensive eating guide while you are on the go.
  • Sport is South Africa’s national past-time, whether it is soccer, rugby or cricket, you will be hard-pressed to spend a weekend in Johannesburg. To find out more about what is on and where to get tickets visit www.computicket.co.za

THE LITTLE BIG THINGS

Talking about the weather:

Johannesburg has a temperate climate. The average temperature in Johannesburg in March is somewhat warm at 18.5 °C (65.3 °F). Afternoons can be fairly hot with average high temperatures reaching 24 °C (75.2 °F). Overnight temperatures are generally mild with an average low of 13 °C (55.4 °F).

 

Essential shopping: 

As a modern city, you will find a supermarket no more than a few kilometres away in order to pick up essentials.

Finding cash:

Johannesburg has a number of ATM machines that will allow foreigners to draw cash whenever they need. All modern retailers and even market stall owners will have Visa and Master Card facilities. Forex can be obtained at the airports and the larger malls will all have Forex counters where select international currencies can be exchanged. South Africa is home to one of the most modern banking facilities in the world and Johannesburg has no shortage of retail banking branches should the need arise.

Pure water:

The City has excellent sanitation and all hotels, shopping malls, conference venues and restaurants will have access to clean toilet facilities. Although all hotels will supply bottled water, Johannesburg’s water is among the best in the world and visitors can safely drink the tap water.

Medical:

South Africa is renowned in Africa, and the world, for its first-world healthcare facilities. The City is home to a number of private clinics and hospitals. Top class doctors and pharmacies are also available in all suburbs throughout the city.

 

Time zones:
Johannesburg is GMT +2 and does not subscribe to daylight savings hours.

Living standards:

Johannesburg has been listed as one of the most affordable Cities in the world for expats, according a cost of living survey by Mercer Global in 2015.

FUN FACTS

There is more to Johannesburg than just business. Here are a few facts about Africa’s most modern City:

  • Johannesburg has more than 10 million trees, making it the world’s largest urban jungle.
  • Johannesburg is one of the only major cities in the world that is not built next to a large water source, be it the ocean, lakes or a major river.
  • Johannesburg is built on a labyrinth of tunnels left over from the gold-rush days. To get a first-hand view of these tunnels visit Gold Reef City for an underground tour.
  • Founded on 4 October 1886, Johannesburg is one of the youngest major cities in the world.
  • The Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital is the largest acute hospital in the world with 2964 beds and is the only public hospital serving 3.5 million people in Soweto.
  • OR Tambo International Airport boasts one of the longest runways in the world due to its altitude of 1,700 m.
  • Some 40 percent of the planets human ancestor fossils have been discovered in the Cradle of Humankind on the outskirts of Johannesburg.
  • The Johannesburg Zoo is more than 100 years old and is the only zoo to house polar bears in Africa.
  • There is another Johannesburg in California, USA. It was named by miners who had worked in the South African gold rush and has a population of 176 people.
  • Johannesburg is the home to Kwaito music, a local genre of African house music that has become a South African phenomenon.