The extent of migration between urban areas is greater than any other migration flows in South Africa. What do these flows look like for largest cities in the country? We take a look Johannesburg, Tshwane, Ekurhuleni, Cape Town, Nelson Mandela Bay, Msunduzi, Buffalo City and eThekwini and how people have been moving between these 9 cities between 2006 and 2011.


Migration flows touch the outer ring of municipality of origin and the flow lines stop short of municipality of destination.
The flow volumes are represented by the extent and numbering of the outer ring.

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Insights & Findings

Inter-city migration is significant and illustrates the dynamic nature of cities. The absolute volume of population flows between our largest cities is astounding with substantial in- as well as out-migration numbers between 2006 and 2011. Urban populations are increasingly fluid in nature. Read more >>. This analysis of population movement between cities is being used as input to the latest South African Cities Report, developed by the South African Cities Network, which will be published in 2016. To read more on the previous State of Cities Report, follow the link to the SACN website SACN website.


Based on municipal level migration data from the 2011 Census it is possible to determine the flow of people between two municipalities between 2006 and 2011 by constructing matrixes with the Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) codes for origin and destination municipalities as row and column headings respectively. Census-based inter-municipal migration volumes in respect of all inter-municipal migrants (excluding intra-municipal mobility levels) for the entire enumerated population for the 2006 to 2011 period are considered. In-, out- and net migration could also be calculated using the totals from the origin and destination rows and columns.


Core Team:

Amy Pieterse, Johan Maritz and Dr Pieter Kok (Independent contractor)

Acknowledgement to contributors and dissemination partners:

  • SACN: State of Cities Report, 2015-2016 (Geci Karuri)
  • SACN: State of Cities Report, 2015-2016 (Geci Karuri)

For more information contact:

Amy Pieterse,


Johan Maritz,

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