Cape Town industry continues to boom

From left, Tim Harris, Wesgro CEO; Lance Greyling, City of Cape Town Trade and Investment Director; Ryan Ravens, Accelerate Cape Town CEO; Zakariya Hoosain, Western Cape Treasury Head; and Alan Winde, MEC of Economic Opportunities.

Wesgro, the tourism, trade and investment promotion agency of Cape Town and the provincial government, met with investors last week to identify the driving forces of the city’s economic growth.

The aim of the meeting, held at the Avenue Conference Centre at the V&A Waterfront on Thursday June 22, was to establish a way for the Western Cape to thrive under South Africa’s junk status.

National political turmoil has caused South Africa’s brand to struggle this year, said Economic Opportunities MEC Alan Winde.

“South Africa has taken a huge pounding.”

However, he said, Cape Town had managed to continue to thrive.

The panel discussion’s purpose was to demonstrate that the Western Cape’s economy was performing better than the rest of the country’s and remained a good place for investors’ business ventures.

Ryan Ravens, the CEO of Accelerate Cape Town, said South Africa was in a dire situation, and the thing that set Cape Town apart was that businesses enjoyed a corporate relationship among all sectors.

“People want to invest here; it’s attractive for business. We see Cape Town as the safe haven in South Africa, but whether we can translate that nationally remains to be seen.”

He said the private sector was in a wait-and-see situation. “We have to build a Cape Town brand, and people need to understand and live that Capetonian brand.”

However, things are looking up for Cape Town and, speaking to the CapeTowner, Mr Winde said that stakeholders continued to invest in infrastructure to make the city much more attractive.

“Through the work of government, the private sector and the people of Cape Town, we’ve seen the rejuvenation of our CBD. Each day I see new investments into key sectors like tourism and technology.

“We will make sure our brand rises above negative.”

The CEO of Wesgro, Tim Harris, said the City of Cape Town would invest R6.8 billion next year on infrastructure development through road upgrades, electricity projects and expanding the broadband roll out, among other things.

He said later this year Wegro would also open and run a new CBD-based Investor Centre, in conjunction with the DTI’s InvestSA initiative, as a collaborative one-stop shop for investors into Cape Town and the Western Cape.

The private sector is also launching initiatives to attract more investors, with the biggest contribution being to the tourist industry, with new hotels being built in the city and Waterfront.

“Last year, Marriott International, in partnership with Amdec, announced a R2 billion investment to develop three new properties here,” said Mr Winde.

“Tsogo Sun is currently adding 500 rooms to accommodation in Cape Town central through
the opening of a R680 million hotel.

The Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group has also invested significantly into the region.”

He said business owners and CBD residents are also key participants in the economic growth of the area.

“Events like First Thursdays, where businesses open their doors the first Thursday of every month, are successful in promoting the popularity of the CBD.

“As a government we also recognise that the CBD provides an excellent location for emerging entrepreneurs to reach new markets.

“That is why we provided space for 10 businesses to trade at our kiosks in Long Street,” Mr Winde said.

One of the concerns raised at the discussion was balancing investor overconfidence, as well as the promotion of social housing in and around the city centre.

In response, Mr Winde said that the provincial government and the City of Cape Town would support densification and provide incentives for developers who incorporated social housing.

“We are working on policies to include social housing, and we do have investors approaching us with ways that it can be included,” said Mr Winde.

Additional reporting by Tamlynne Thompson.