DEVELOPMENT: Growing Opportunities for Cape Town
Recent Western Cape Business News
The Multi-party Government of the City has set Infrastructure-led Economic Growth as one of its key targets. It has recognised that its key responsibility is to pay attention to the basics: ensure that the economic infrastructure of the city – water, sewerage, roads, electricity - are in place as they are key to unlocking the potential of private-sector driven economic growth. Allied to that, service provision is the need to improve response times on the City’s regulatory functions.
The City government has thus driven these issues very hard the past three years, which is reflected in the dramatic increase in capital expenditure, from R1 billion in 2005/6 - R3 billion in 2007/8 and a budget of R6 billion in 2008/9.
This expenditure has ensured that utility service provision - water, sewerage and electricity - is adequate to catch up on backlogs and to provide for the expanding city. The utility services capital budget alone has doubled from R750 million to R1.5 billion per year.
The City’s Integrated Rapid Transport system, the single most important project for economic inclusion, is set to transform the city’s public transport system. Some R1 billion of bus ways are currently under construction to meet this need and more will follow. Other key road projects such the upgrading of Hospital Bend, are also contributing towards greater road and transport capacity and efficiency.
Repairs and maintenance of infrastructure have also received attention. The Multi-party Government increased the budget for repairs and maintenance by over 50% to R1.2 billion per year.
The City has also made significant progress on improving turn-around times on building and land-use applications. A turnaround strategy for the Property Management Department is underway and the Film and Events Permit Office will be commencing with their business improvement strategy.
The very significant City and national investments in the FIFA 2010 Word Cup will provide economic opportunities during 2010 and beyond and it is essential that these opportunities are harnessed by the city and its businesses. In particular, the City will soon be establishing a dedicated Film and Events Traffic Services Unit to support the multi-billion rand media, events and film industry.
The City has also initiated its broadband project, which together with the projects of private sector companies will dramatically increase our citizens’ access to the internet. These initiatives will make Cape Town a connected city, enabling better opportunities in the ICT sector.
A city’s competitive advantage rests on the efficacy of its institutions. Thus, greater attention needs to be paid to the institutional framework that enables the realization of economic opportunities. While more needs to be done as far as infrastructure and regulation red tape is concerned, the basis has been laid to reap the inevitable upswing from the current recession.
At a City level we will interrogate the mandate, service and record of strategic partners such as Wesgro, Cape Town Tourism and Cape Town Routes Unlimited to ensure that they are empowered and also that they deliver on the needs of expanding our economy.
Key economic projects that will enhance Cape Town’s global competitiveness will be given a high level of attention. These include:
* Expansion of the International Convention Centre, to cement Cape Town as the global city of choice for meetings, conferences
and exhibitions in Africa;
* Development of the Atlantis Growth Corridor;
* The possibility of a small craft harbour at Silverstroomstrand to bolster the boat building industry in Atlantis;
* The development of an IT/media campus to foster business startups and support the city’s multi-billion rand film, media and
* Provision of more industrial and commercial land throughout the metropole to alleviate the critical shortage of such land and to
make industrial land more affordable;
* Greenfield developments in the Helderberg and Phillipi areas;
* Pursuit of service opportunities for the West Africa Oil & Gas industry.
It is also my intention to reopen the debate concerning the provision of West Coast natural gas to Cape Town, a project that faltered some 10 years back due to inadequate national regulation. It is essential that the City broadens its mix of energy sources and is not overly reliant on electricity.
Specific attention will be given to unlocking economic growth potential in the economically depressed areas of the city, including Mitchells Plain, Atlantis, Khayelitsha and Phillipi. To this end, a review will be undertaken of the range on current interventions with a view to rationalising them and getting better returns on expenditure. In Khayelitsha for example, we currently have the Presidential Urban Renewal Project and the Khayelitsha Community Trust and other projects. The results of these interventions are suboptimal and need to be rerouted. Serious attention will have to be given to the levels of crime in these areas as well as the local institutions that are represented by inefficient and unqualified gatekeepers who suppress opportunities for ordinary people in pursuit of self enrichment. The fight against drugs and alcohol will continue.
Much of the current Local Economic Development interventions have limited results and the system needs a complete overhaul. The City’s local economic development initiatives will be enhanced to have a lasting impact on service delivery to the residents of Cape Town.
The City will continue to empower SMMEs via its R6 billion per year procurement system. Initiatives will include the introduction of terms and conditions in the City’s tender contracts that will be more focussed towards SMMEs. Business support programmes will be extended to emerging SMMEs who want to do business with the City.
The City is in the process of identifying more trading opportunities to benefit the informal trading sector. It will improve the institutional capacity of the informal trading unit to ensure the sector is better managed. Improved safety and cleanliness will ultimately benefit the traders.
Tourism remains a key economic opportunity for Cape Town, but the City cannot rest on the laurels of having great scenery and closely located environmental attractions. Its service infrastructure to serve visitors needs ongoing improvement. The cultural landscape, ranging from great music and theatre, to great public spaces and attractive urban landscapes, needs conservation and promotion. Places where visitors can interact with locals in public places, such as urban markets, need promotion.
The City will engage airlines to fly directly into the city and we will find ways to encourage this practise.
Cape Town seeks to be known as the City of Great Events. We will particularly encourage events appropriate to a top flight image, such as the Cycle Tour, Two Oceans Marathon, the Jazz Festival and the Cape Philharmonic Orchestra’s International Summer Festival.
Equally, the Film industry will continue to receive encouragement and improved service. In addition to the City establishing a dedicated Film and Events Traffic Services Unit to support the multi-billion rand media, events and film industry, it will also develop an on-line bookings system for permitting.
The location of three universities in the city and surrounds provides enormous potential for research and development partnerships with industry and commerce. The City will seek to facilitate such partnerships in those sectors where the city has competitive advantages.
Education and training is of course key to economic growth. While the responsibility for education lies outside of local government, the City will expand its activities into early childhood development. It will also seek ways through its normal operation to provide training to people for real jobs in the economy. We have as an example, the CTICC’s training of food & beverage staff and the City’s training of apprentices and debt collectors.
At a more comprehensive level, the City will move this year towards the completion of a Growth and Development Strategy, which will integrate much work that has already been done, including key aspects such as a Spatial Plan, an Economic Strategy and a Transport Strategy.
Expanding the city’s economy is primarily about government expanding economic opportunity so that the entrepreneurship of its citizens can find success. We must enable where we can and get out of the citizen’s way where we cannot.
Cape Town has a great future in a country of great potential. We are a global city in Africa where businesses will find that everything works and where the City corporate governance is at a world class level. It is a place where a good living can be made and where a good living can be had. We want businesses to become established and stay here so that we can have the most important thing of all – jobs for our people.
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