INFOTECH: Flights And Broadband Crucial To Connecting Cape Town To The World
Recent Western Cape Business News
“Any city with aspirations of being a global business centre must be connected to the rest of the world, both through technology and with regular, direct international flights.” So says Guy Lundy, CEO of Accelerate Cape Town, a Cape-based business think-tank and catalyst.
Lundy was commenting on addresses made by Brian Pinnock and Deon Cloete to Accelerate Cape Town’s member and sponsor organisations at its second member meeting of the year on Friday, 16 April.
Deon Cloete, General Manager of the Cape Town International Airport said that good flight connections, and preferably direct flights, are crucial to any city with aspirations to a global business presence. “Reliance on seasonal demand will not entice airlines to establish direct links to Cape Town; there is a need for a concerted business drive to create demand for business flights into the Cape throughout the year – and particularly in winter.”
Cloete added that the global economic crisis has had a negative effect on air traffic in general, and on the Cape Town airport in particular. “While all predictions were that nearly 10 million passengers would be passing through the new airport by now, current data indicates that just under 8 million passengers used the airport in 2009.”
While these lower-than-predicted passenger volumes are being experienced at all South African airports, they are coupled, in the case of Cape Town, with very seasonal demand for flights. A number of airlines only fly directly to Cape Town during the summer months, for example.
Brian Pinnock, General Manager: Solutions Development at Internet Solutions, said that the availability of broadband is now as crucial to the connectivity of any city as the provision of transport and other physical infrastructure.
“Globally, the provision of broadband is recognised as the key enabler for business, education and government, and has been found to add as much as 1% to GDP in some locations. In the South African context, the availability of broadband provides numerous commercial opportunities, including the local provision of services to foreign companies, the possibility of business expansion into Africa, and the increased opportunities for mobile talent to work from anywhere.”
Pinnock warned that unlimited broadband also comes with some potential commercial threats to South African business: lower-cost geographies outside South Africa could prove more attractive than local cities, and global competitors (such as Google) could well capitalise on the ability to sell services into South Africa, and Cape Town.
The challenges to providing unlimited broadband are not limited to the expansion of the fiber optic cable network, although this is essential and has received extensive media coverage. “Crucially, over half the cost of broadband connectivity is incurred after the fiber optic network is in place, through local copper and wireless networks, and this remains an issue,” says Pinnock.
Lundy stressed that it is vital that Cape Town continues to drive for increased connectivity. “If we are to be competitive, not just in a global sense but also in comparison with Johannesburg and Durban, we must continue to push for direct flight connections and for broadband to be as widely available in our city as possible. Cape Town has the potential to lead South Africa, and Africa, in terms of having connections to the world and with ourselves, and we must not lose this opportunity to capitalise on our reputation as a city of innovation.”
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