uMfolozi Municipality is one of six municipalities within the District. The N2 national road passes through the municipality, which connects it to major towns such as Richards Bay and Durban. The significance of this road to the Municipality is that it serves as the major economic corridor in the area.
The municipality has an estimated population size of 122 889, of which 51.9% are women. The average population density is estimated at 88 people per km2. The Municipality is adjacent to Richards Bay and Empangeni Complex. Its borders are the Indian Ocean to the east; Umfolozi River to the north; Mhlana Tribal Authority to west and UMhlathuze Municipality to the south. It is characterised by three geographical districts portions which are: coastal: Sokhulu-Mfolozi Traditional Authorities; Commercial Plantations along the N2 and Mhlana Traditional Authority to the west.
The uMfolozi Municipal Area comprises a long flat coastal plain rising gently from the coast towards the west where it reaches a height of approximately 200 metres above mean sea level (masl), the highest point being Kwamendo in the west at 381 mast. The coastal plain is interspersed by high dunes and is further characterised by a number of short perennial rivers that originate within the area and either drain northwards towards the Umfolozi River or towards the coastal lakes in the vicinity of Richards Bay to the south. Two coastal lakes lie within the area, Lake Nhlabane on the coast and Lake Eteza towards the north.
uMfolozi Municipality is home to the poorest of the poor. This was based on evidence reflected in research done containing the average annual household income in uMfolozi (compared to an average annual household income of in the Ethekwini Metro).
- The population settlement trend is that people are generally settled in Traditional Authority areas.
- This has implications in terms of types of services that might be needed to cater for this age group which impacts on the Municipal budgeting thereof.
- The incidence of HIV/Aids seems to have stabilized, this is in line with the notion that the disease in reaching maturity. The incidence of HIV/Aids reached its highest level in 2004, where after a decrease is observed. This could also be the result of the positive impact that the distribution of anti-retroviral medication had in the Municipal Area.
The only town of uMfolozi ie KwaMbonambi is situated between Mtubatuba and Richards Bay approximately 33 km north of Richards Bay. A significant portion of uMfolozi forms part of the former KwaZulu which tended to be neglected in terms of economic development. Most of the area of the municipality is also rural and associated with a lack of development, poverty and poor service provision.
uMfolozi economy is only 18% of that of uMhlathuze and 12% of that of uThungulu Municipality. uMfolozi Local Municipality is the 3rd largest in the district being exceeded by uMhlathuze and uMlalazi. The economies of Mthonjaneni, Nkandla and Ntambanana are all significantly smaller than that of uMfolozi.