Location in Africa

Buffalo City is located in the south-east of Africa. 

Location Of Buffalo City In Africa

 Buffalo city is one out of eight metropolitan municipalities in South Africa. 

Sa Metros And Bcmm

Economic Infrastructure Regional economy 

Buffalo City is situated in the centre of the Eastern Cape Province. The city functions as a regional hub for the small towns and rural hinterlands of the central and Eastern part of the Province. Buffalo City contributes 28.9% towards the provincial GVA-R output. 

GDP-R expectations for 2015 are R 243.29 billion increasing to R 240.01 billion in 2015 and R 246.34 in 2016.

For more detailed information on the Eastern Cape Province and sector performance, take a look at:

The Eastern Cape Socio-Economic Review & Outlook 2015.

Additional Information

Faculty Of Management And Commerce Quick stats

Buffalo City was declared a Metropolitan Municipality in 2011. This provides the city with greater access to crucial resources that influence its ability to deliver services that impact on the quality of life of residents.

Buffalo City
Population size: 760 704 (2013)
Size: 2,400 km²
Population per km2: 300
Provincial share of population: 11.4 %
National share of population: 1.5%
Main Towns: East London, King Williams Town and Bhisho
Languages: English, isiXosa and Afrikaans

Economic Infrastructure  Economic overview

Buffalo City Metropolitan Municipality is the second largest metropolitan municipality in the Eastern Cape.

It contributes 1.7% to the South African economy and 21.2% to the Eastern Cape’s economy.
The performance of the Buffalo City Metropolitan Municipality has been relatively stable over the past decade or so, albeit below the national average.

In 2013, the growth rate was only 2.3% compared to South Africa’s growth rate of 2.8%, although it was the same as that of the Eastern Cape (2.3%).

Click on the links below to view:

BCMM 2014 Socio-Economic Profile
BCMM Metro Assessment

Top Industries

Industrial And Logistics Growth Manufacturing

Buffalo City has been a manufacturing hub servicing South Africa and the rest of the world for more than 100 years. The manufacturing sector contributes 13.5% to the metro’s gross value added. The transport equipment sector is the most important manufacturing sub sector, contributing 3.0% to the metro’s gross value added. Mercedes‐Benz SA, based in East London, is one of the largest foreign investors in South Africa. The transport equipment sector contributes 4.2% to South Africa’s transport sector and has been growing at an annual average rate of 1.5% since 1995.

The second largest contributor to manufacturing is the petroleum products, chemicals, rubber and plastic sector, which contributes 2.7% to the region’s GVA.
This sector supplies components to the automotive sector.

In addition, the food, beverages and tobacco sector contributes 2.1% of the region’s GVA.

Leading manufacturing companies are: Click here 

Faculty Of Science And Agriculture Agriculture

The municipality contributes 1.2% to South Africa’s agricultural output, and 18.1% to the Eastern Cape’s agricultural output. The sector has exhibited an average annual growth rate of over 4.0% since 2005.

Enterprise Development Centre Tertiary sector

The tertiary sector is dominated by general government which contributes 25.2% to the local economy. This is followed by business services (13.9%), finance and insurance (8.4%) and wholesale and retail trade (13.3%).

City And Beach Holidays Tourism

BCM has good tourism potential based on:

  • Business tourism and conferences
  • City and beach holidays
  • Gateway to the Wild Coast
  • Sporting and cultural events

Construction Construction

Buffalo City has high potential for construction industry growth based on:

  • Industrial and logistics growth
  • Infrastructure renewal and extensions
  • Township upgrading
  • Residential and commercial property developments

Economic Infrastructure

Buffalo city provides good economic infrastructure for doing business in the city.

East London Industrial Development Zone

Set up in 2002 as a response to the need for a robust catalyst for economic development and industrial diversification in the country, the ELIDZ is a State Owned Corporation set up by government through the South African Industrial Development Zones Programme (now the South African Special Economic Zones Programme) to develop, operate and maintain modern infrastructure and to complementary attract strategic investments for the region.

Roads Roads

The city is well connected through N2 / N6 national roads and R 72 / R 63 provincial roads. 

Roads (2) Small

Take a look at the South African National Roads Agency's presentation to get a detailed overview on road construction and maintenance in the Eastern Cape Province. 

Ports Port

The East London port is the only river port in the country. The port is serviced by international shipping lines. Costs differ depending on what you are shipping, for more information on shipping prices please view the Transnet National Ports Authority Port Tariffs Report.

To view more please click on the links below:
Transnet tariffs April 2015
Province of the Eastern Cape - International trade tracker - 2015: Quarter 1

Freigth Rail Freight rail

The rail infrastructure in South Africa is one of the best on the continent, the total railways in South Africa amount to 80% of the total railways in Africa. Further developing the railways is a top goal for the South African Government, there are now projects in place that focus on increase market share of container traffic and increase the overall freight rail volumes. It has the upmost importance because the railways connect to all of the ports in South Africa which makes importing and exporting products easier for investors and businesses and makes Buffalo city a very attractive place.

To view more about the Freight rails, please click here.

Sa Rail Network Smaller

Passenger RailPassenger rail

The Shosholoza Meyl inter-city trains connect Buffalo City to Johannesburg and Cape Town, and Metrorail provides a commuter service between the city centre and Mdantsane Township and Berlin.
East London station is located along Station Road on the edge of the city's central business district. It is laid out as a terminal station, with five tracks for passenger trains.

Airports East London Airport

The East London Airport is a fairly busy airport with 20-30 planes every day. Businesses can import and export products in South Africa and as far away as several countries in Europe.
Commercial hubs like Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town can be reached in a short plane ride. Cargo fees and air fees differ depending on the airline that you use so we recommend that you search the airlines online in order to find the best price.

For more information on the East London Airport on this website, click here .

Click here for more information on the South African Airways Cargo customer service.

Airlines companies that use the East London Airport

Population  Population and employment

In 2013 Buffalo City had a population size of 760 704 (2013). The city contributes 11.4% to the provincial population and 1.5% to the South African population. The annual rate of population growth since 2005 has been about 0.8%. This is lower than the 1.2% growth rate for South Africa, but higher than the Eastern Cape whose population has grown at 0.5% pa since 2005.

The racial composition of the Buffalo City metro is as follows:


The gender composition of the population is 52% female and 48% male. The majority of the population is between 15 and 64 years old.

Labour Force

Buffalo City Labour Market Numbers (000)
Formal (non - agriculture) 161
Informal (non - agriculture) 48
Agriculture 7
Total employment 233
Unemployment 94
Labour / Economic active population 327
Discouraged work seekers 11
Not economically active 172
Population working age 499
Rates %
Unemployment rate 28.8
Labour absorption rate 46.6
Labour force participation 65.5

Innovation Innovation and research

East London Science & Technology Park

Buffalo City is home to the East London Science and Technology Park situated at the East London Industrial Development Zone.
It provides a range of services including laboratories with testing and auditing capabilities, laboratory facilities, training platforms as well as incubator services.

Open Innovation Platform

The Connect + Solve Open Innovation Platform is based at the East London Industrial Development Zone. It brings together  organisations looking for technologies with those who have developed them. 

Download the project overview for more information and contact details

University Of Walter SisuluUniversity of Fort Hare

Fore Hare was founded in 1916 and will be celebrating its 100th year of existence in 2016. Fort Hare is the oldest historically black university in all of South Africa. With multiple campuses in Alice and East London, Fort Hare is building on the already vast amount of human capital in Buffalo City. Fort Hare has 38 degrees offered in the following 5 faculties:

Faculty Of Education Faculty Of Law Faculty Of Management And Commerce Faculty Of Science And Agriculture Faculty Of Social And Humanities

The urban facilities of East London make it easier to attract best students and staff. It has a well established academic base in the four faculties of humanities and Social Sciences, Management and commerce, education and law, with academic excellence in the highly rated primary education degree, diploma and certificate, a strong reputation in commerce, research capacity in the Institute for Fort Hare Social and Economic Research (FHISER).

This campus also offers a considerable number of short courses designed to meet local needs.
Many students are part time and distance.

The Bisho campus developed a reputation in public service related courses. It is a modern campus focusing on part time and distance courses including innovative public service development. Strength is also present in courses in public administration and finance, and the well-rated Fort Hare Institute of Government (FHIG).

University Of Fort HareWalter Sisulu University

Walter Sisulu University was formed in 2005 and has campuses in East London, Mthatha, Queenstown and Butterworth.
Their core competency is teaching, research and community engagement. The university offers 175 qualifications with the following priority programme focus areas:

Science, Engineering And Technology Accounting Adn Management Science Communication, Business And Management Humanities, Social Sciences And Law

Education Heealth Science Natural Sciences

Apart from its vibrant academic core business, WSU has a number of directorates and centres, which drive various strategic directions.

University Of Fort HareNelson Mandela Metropolitan University

The NMMU Business School has a satellite campus in East London. 

Did you know?

Human Capital

The Buffalo City has the highest rate of people with matric aged 20+ in the Eastern Cape Province with 27.1% of the population.

People with no schooling aged 20+ are 4.9%.
People with higher education aged 20+ are 13.8%.

Get In Touch

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