city of gold glitters

Madoda Milazi

Madoda Milazi

When poet and statesman Wally Serote wrote his poem, City Johannesburg, back in the 1960s, he spoke of a cruel town that was no fun.

"There is no fun, nothing in it. When you leave the women and men with such frozen expressions. Expressions that have tears like furrows of soil erosion. Joburg City, you are dry like death," he wrote.

But it seems that life has since become fun in the City of Gold, especially for business.

Johannesburg was yesterday ranked as the 11th top economic powerhouse out of 65 cities in emerging markets - beating Moscow and Buenos Aires, among others.

Cape Town and Durban were ranked a distant 33rd and 37th respectively by the first MasterCard Worldwide Centres of Commerce Emerging Markets Index.

China dominated the Top 10, with Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou and Shenzhen taking first, second, sixth and 10th positions respectively. Other cities in the Top 10 are Budapest, Kuala Lumpur, Santiago, Mexico City, Warsaw and Bangkok.

In addition China had 15 other cities in the index - all ranked in the Top 30.

The second most represented country was India, with eight of its cities making the Index - none in the Top 20 though.

South Africa is the Index's best-represented country outside of the BRIC economies (Brazil, Russia, India and China).

Mike Schüssler, senior economist at T-Sec, said: "This affirms South Africa's regional pre-eminence, as all three of its cities rank well above the other African cities listed. Johannesburg, in particular, even edged out acclaimed emerging cities in Europe and Asia."

Craig Pheiffer, general manager of Absa Asset Management Private Clients, said the index highlighted the first world nature of our main centres.

"We have a financial services system that surpasses many to be found in the developed world and our local exchanges have adopted the best practices from around the world," said Pheiffer.

Christopher Gilmour, analyst at Absa Investments, agreed and said: "Johannesburg's sophisticated legal and accounting systems and stock market sets it apart from most other emerging markets."