The State of Cape Town 2014 report is a biennial report produced by the City of Cape Town. The purpose of the report is to provide a snapshot of Cape Town with up-to date information and analyses of the most pertinent urban development issues facing the city, its residents and businesses. The following is an excerpt of an article by Accelerate Cape Town CEO Chris Whelan which features in the latest report released in September 2014.
The Business Vision – Cape Town as Africa’s Leading City
The vision of Cape Town’s business community is to transform the Cape into Africa’s leading city of innovation and inspiration. To this end, corporate firms are working actively to help enhance the ‘city vitals’ for successful cities, namely talent, connectedness, innovation and distinctiveness. Business also constantly builds mutually beneficial relationships with small and medium enterprises, the public sector and higher education. Equally important is the combined impact of corporate firms’ sustainability programmes and social investment initiatives. Enterprise sustainability strategies are starting to extend beyond electricity savings and green building projects to social stewardship and responsible governance, for example.
One of the ‘city vitals’ to which Cape enterprises actively contribute is that of education, skills transfer and capacity building. Business generates wealth through profit growth, as primary consumers of services and by enabling capacity building and skills transfer. Its contribution to skills development also significantly strengthens Cape Town’s capability for innovation. In 2012, corporate South Africa contributed 55%of South African government revenue and also contributed to the development of SMEs thought enterprise and supplier development programmes.
High education standards and relevant education programmes are key to addressing the jobs / skills mismatch and to achieving the inclusive growth needed to help ensure better living standards. For this reason, larger firms typically offer attractive study incentives, run progressive internship and coaching programmes, etc.
Cape Town is Africa’s most innovative city and also the 2014 World Design Capital. To monetise its capabilities, an opportunity exists for the city to transform itself into a ‘living lab’ in which African solutions are developed – and commercialised – to address African health and other problems. Already in progress are UCT’s H3-D drug discovery lab, which is focused on pharmaceutical innovation; CPUT’s satellite application for the agricultural sector; and exciting private sector efforts in the generation and storage of renewable energy.
Being globally oriented and connected is crucial to success in a globalised world. To leverage these trends, corporate Cape Town promotes connectedness through, among others, international and inter-Africa trade. Cape Town also has a goal to become Africa’s leading digital, knowledge-dense and service-rich city and introducing “free-to-consumer” wifi broadband access though public-private partnerships which are strongly supported by the business community.
Cape Town’s sea port, its easy access to continental markets via Cape Town International Airport, lifestyle benefits, excellent universities and solid infrastructure all lend it a distinct advantage over other African cities. The Cape is a vibrant knowledge and services hub, exporting 22.5% of South Africa’s services; and Africa’s asset management centre. According to the International Congress and Convention Association (2013), Cape Town is the number one destination for conferences in Africa. Together with its various representative and supporting bodies like Accelerate Cape Town, large enterprises have an important role to play in championing the city as Africa’s ‘business destination of choice’.
Corporate Cape Town plays a fundamental role as it works to translate the Cape’s commercial hope into reality and to establish the metro as a leading African city.