Waterfall City Attracts U.S. Corporate Giants to the Heart of Africa’s Fastest Growing Metropolitan Region

By Hluma Luvo Ralane

Waterfall City, nestled in the heart of South Africa, has emerged as the continent’s fastest-growing mixed-use lifestyle precinct, drawing global attention as a premier destination for corporations seeking modern and strategically located spaces for their African operations. Waterfall City stands as a testament to innovative urban development, offering state-of-the-art infrastructure, sustainability commitments, and a vibrant ecosystem that beckons industry leaders from around the world.

The Waterfall City land is owned by Witwatersrand Estates Limited and is held in trust by the Waterval Islamic Institute, managed by the Waterfall City Management Company, and financed by a consortium of large-scale real estate developers. The city is situated in the heart of the fastest growing metropolitan region on the African continent, about halfway between the Johannesburg central city and Pretoria, on a 2,200-hectare tract of land, formerly the Waterval farm.

With its mission rooted in the core values of Connection, Commerce, Care, and Community, Waterfall City embodies a vision of a smart, sustainable, and admired urban centre where people thrive. A key differentiator for this innovative mixed-use smart city is its accessibility to major road infrastructure. Positioned halfway between Johannesburg and Pretoria and situated within the triangular area formed by Woodmead, Kyalami, and Midrand, its prime location greatly enhances the attractiveness of this development.

Waterfall City boasts all the amenities of a vibrant modern city, complemented by state-of-the-art fibre optic and wireless communication networks and alternative energy sources, positioning Waterfall City as a pioneering urban centre.

The City’s Corporate Campus has attracted a lot of U.S. corporate companies and local blue-chip brands in leading industries. The Corporate Campus is a secure office park located on a highly visible site on the corner of Waterfall Drive and Letaba Drive. Its success as a top corporate destination in Gauteng is mainly attributable to the flexibility it offers clients to customise spaces or subdivide a multiclient building to suit their needs.

Among the notable U.S. companies that have made Waterfall City their home are PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC), Cisco, and Accenture. The PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) offices stand as one of the iconic buildings in Waterfall City that have ignited the development as a new premier business destination. The distinctive 26-story tower, PWC’s headquarters, represents the first high rise within the thriving precinct.

In 2022, the global technology powerhouse Cisco also relocated to Waterfall City. Established in 1984 by Stanford graduates Leonard Bosack and Sandy Lerner, Cisco revolutionised the early era of personal computer adoption by pioneering local area network (LAN) connections for homes and offices. Cisco’s South Africa General Manager, Smangele Nkosi, shared insights with Waterfall City Management Company regarding the smart city, stating, “Our new Waterfall City office meets our needs for a comfortable space that we want to come into a few days a week. The surrounding infrastructure seamlessly supports our ever-growing business”.

Accenture has also chosen Waterfall City as its home. As a prominent international management and consulting firm, Accenture provides a range of professional services. According to Accenture Waterfall City, its appeal lies in its corporate campus with various green attributes, aligning with global trends favouring environmentally sustainable practices in real estate, thus keeping interest in office space high. Furthermore, the city’s proximity to various prominent roadways and transport infrastructure, such as the Gautrain, led Accenture to make the smart city its home.

Waterfall City’s strategic development partner, Attacq remains committed to fostering sustainability initiatives, with a focus on energy, water, and waste management. Through its Attacq Energy initiative, the group aims to increase renewable energy consumption to over 25% of the total energy mix, aligning with global trends towards sustainability.

The precinct’s commitment to environmental stewardship is further evidenced by its 31 green-rated buildings ( some Green Star-rated by the Green Building Council of South Africa and others LEED certified by the US Green Building Council) and its proactive water management plan. Attacq’s dedication to environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors underscores its vision for a greener, more sustainable future.

Waterfall City’s accolades as a world-class metropolitan centre, including being 5-times winners of the Best International Mixed-use Development and more recently, named winners of the Best International Mixed-use Architecture, underscore its status as a premier business destination. As the city continues to evolve, it has positioned itself as a genuine rival to established business hubs like Sandton and Johannesburg central district, setting new benchmarks in urban design and economic vitality.

In conclusion, Waterfall City stands as a shining example of innovation and progress in African urban development, attracting top-tier corporations and setting new standards for sustainable business practices. With its unwavering commitment to excellence and sustainability, Waterfall City is poised to remain a beacon of opportunity and prosperity for years to come, drawing global attention and investment to the heart of South Africa.

The author is a Project Coordinator: Africa-U.S. Cities at the African Centre for the Study of the United States (ACSUS).