Yesterday, I proudly tabled the Inclusive Economic Growth Strategy for adoption by the City’s Mayoral Committee (Mayco). The Strategy is a robust 200-step plan for meaningful growth in Cape Town and all who live in it. The item will also go to Council for a final decision.

In my tenure as the Mayco Member whose portfolio includes the Enterprise and Investment Department, I have seen what economic opportunity – and a lack thereof – means for people.

This plan – a successor to the 2013 Economic Growth Strategy – seeks to make those opportunities more accessible and inclusive. In fact, the 2013 Strategy laid the foundation for this very department and initiatives such as our dedicated business helpdesk, which helps entrepreneurs be more competitive and resilient by engaging them on product development access to markets, learning how to tender, and more.

Additionally, the new IEGS is the result of meticulous input from business and industry stakeholders, academics, and members of the public. In one way or another, all these responses touched on one of the myriad, interlinked challenges that stifle South Africa’s economy and its metros, from onerous red tape thwarting small businesses, to a collapsing rail network, high data costs, and a lack of skills development and training.

City work helps weather the storm

There is, however, hope.

The City has shown that with targeted interventions, it is possible to mitigate the effects of these crises.

For instance, through our continued support and funding for our Special Business Partners (SBPs) in Cape Town’s high growth industries over the past five years, we have helped almost 40 000 people find jobs and train for work readiness, while reaping R22,68 billion in commercial investments. Not only is this sectoral support approach recommended by the World Bank, it is, as you can see, working.

Similarly, our Investment Facilitation Services have over the past three years paved the way for ventures valued at more than R64 billion and 3 000 direct job opportunities with countless more in the pipeline.

It is because of these and similar programmes that Cape Town made the 2019 list of top 150 cities in the world for startups and was named the most innovative city in Africa.

Looking to the future with the IEGS

And now with the IEGS, we will build on these successes.

Underpinned by principles such as competitiveness, sustainability, and collaboration, the IEGS is an implementation plan that is broken down into short, medium, and long-term timeframes.

The plan consists of 189 action steps formulated after a genuine and thorough analysis of Cape Town’s socio-economic climate and as such, they are equally detailed and specific in their targets and deadlines.

In the first and short-term phase, we will expand on our efforts to bring more unemployed people into the job market by working with partners in government, civil society and the private sector. Under this step, we will also support the ongoing development of integrated job search and work placement centres in communities. Through the establishment of the Cape Town Growth Coalition, we will foster sustainable initiatives in the city’s construction and development sectors.

This will coincide with a continuous evaluation of markets to determine where there will be skills’ demand by working closely with academics and industry experts.

These efforts will then allow us to promote the Cape Town brand to a wider array of investors and to stay abreast of global business trends.

A recent example of how we have done this successfully is the boom of the city’s call centre industry, which employs tens of thousands of young people, who were trained with City funding. This year, South Africa was ranked the number 1 global destination for call centres and, with over half of the country’s industry players based in Cape Town, it’s clear that the Mother City was integral to this achievement.

Let’s get it done

In each phase of this plan, we will leverage our infrastructure, such as City data, to allow more people to source training and job opportunities. The IEGS also incorporate the needs of Cape Town’s emerging and informal sectors in conjunction with spatial planning initiatives across the metropolitan region.

The scale of the challenges before us may seem insurmountable, particularly after what we have been through in the past year and a half.

But we have faced challenges many times before and we have met them head on.

Let us pool our resources and work together to extend the exciting and rich opportunities of Cape Town to all who live in it. Let’s get it done.


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