At our recent CEO Engagement, we hosted Exec Mayor Patricia de Lille and the Mayoral Committee (Mayco). Sponsored by British American Tobacco, the evening provided a platform for business to raise awareness of the requirements for, and issues impacting on, economic growth, while the City of Cape Town shared details about their strategy including highlighting projects such as Project Camissa and Invest Cape Town.

Recently launched, Invest Cape Town is a brand initiative aimed at positioning Cape Town as a business destination. Mayor de Lille said that for too long, the city’s reputation as a tourist destination has overshadowed its business investment opportunities. Invest Cape Town’s objective is aimed at attracting investors, letting them know we are open for business, to drive economic growth and job creation. Mayor de Lille highlighted that it is important that business serves as ambassadors for the City too.

On addressing Apartheid spatial planning, Mayor de Lille shared with us the aims of the Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) plan which was approved by the City in 2016 and nominated for a C40 Award in 2016. With low to medium income citizens spending 40% of their income on travelling, the objective of the TOD is to unlock economic development by creating a mixed-use residential and commercial area with high-density, affordable housing located close to transport and social amenities. The City has identified five urban development projects that it would like to roll out in the next five years: development of Bellville in collaboration with the Greater Tygerberg Partnership: connecting Phillipi with the airport industria with the Philippi East Partnership; the CBD, Paardevlei, Somerset  West , a 684 hectare piece of land which will also be used for a balanced mix of residential and job creation opportunities, and Maiden’s Cove, Camps Bay.

The Mayor also addressed the issue of transport congestion in Cape Town and spoke about the R750 million investment to deal with congestion in the V&A, Kuils River and Kommetjie. She said, however, that building roads would not solve the problem and that the City would lead by example regarding flexi-time and other behavioural changes. Another key project impacting on the City is the roll-out of fibre optic cable which has currently connected 300 buildings with over 800km of fibre, with a target of 600 buildings and 1300km of fibre to be reached by 2021. Mayor de Lille says Cape Town’s aim is to be the ‘best digital city in Africa’.

Mayor de Lille also spoke about the reorganisation of her Mayoral Committee to implement a multi-disciplinary, localised and area-based service delivery model. Essentially this is to provide a greater service to citizens by dividing the City into four areas and having a Mayco member responsible for each area which is home to between 800 000 – 900 000 residents.  This area based project and performance management model has been successfully trialled in Helderberg and will ensure service levels are being met across the City.

The City has set a target of sourcing 10 – 20% of its energy needs from renewable sources by 2020. Mayor de Lille said that they are working hard to diversify the City’s energy mix and are aggressively pursuing independent energy sources to give citizens a choice about the type of energy they would like to purchase. Additionally, she emphasised that making Cape Town energy secure is a top priority to attract further foreign investment. Mayor de Lille concluded by saying that cities and the development plans they choose are the drivers of change and economic growth.

The evening ended with a Q&A session between business and Mayco members addressing issues pertaining to economic development and opportunities, water, transport and congestion, planning, infrastructure, as well as “greening” Cape Town.