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Dinner with Premier Alan Winde, Western Cape Energy Advisor Alwie Lester & WC DG, Dr Harry Malila

At our CEO Dinner with Premier Winde, sponsored by Sanlam Insurance and Santam, we continued our series of conversations with local government and provincial leadership. Premier Winde together with members of his team – Alwie Lester (energy advisor in the Office of the Premier) and Dr Harry Malila (Director General, Administrative Head of the Western Cape Government) shared their insights, vision and commitment to the future of our local economy and region.

Gugu Mtetwa, Santam Executive Head of Strategy and Investor Relations, discussed the company’s commitment to building strong partnerships, stressing that it should no longer be about ‘business as usual’. Businesses must partner with government at all levels to ensure sustainability – not only locally, but across the country. To date, Sanlam has partnered with no fewer than 82 municipalities nationwide to provide disaster risk management support, capacity, and advisory services.

Premier Winde and his team’s key focus is that of ensuring the dignity and well-being of all our citizens – with a huge focus on social development, education and health. This includes a concentrated focus on energy, transport, water and crime.

Its safety campaign, at a cost of R2.3 billion, has seen a drastic reduction in crime in the Western Cape. Of the 11 crime hotspots around the country that saw a decrease in murder rates, 10 are situated in our province.

However, Premier Winde stressed that a decreased murder rate is not enough. It needs to go hand in hand with encouraging and facilitating investment and social economic development. As important, is proper governance – without which no region can build, change, and succeed. Another strong focus includes that of the internal culture of the Western Cape government, ensuring the right attitude and focus amongst its employees and instilling a business mindset when it comes to delivery.

Additional highlights included:

  • The Western Cape Government’s 15-year water plan involving local government and municipalities to ensure that the energy crisis is not followed by a repeat of 2017. As a water-scarce region, we need to ‘get smarter’ as to how we use water as our population continues to grow.
  • Increase in jobs – of 169,000 new jobs in the country (last quarter of 2023), 167,000 were in the Western Cape.
  • Conventions and events industry that is enjoying a huge influx of various world championship events and international conferences being hosted in Cape Town.
  • The launch of the Department of Urban Mobility and Department of Infrastructure Development.
  • The Rapid School Build Programme with 840 new schools.
  • New clinics and the building of new hospitals and rebuilding of Tygerberg Hospital.

On the hot topic of energy, Alwie Lester shared deep concerns about Eskom and its lack of investment to ensure the sustainability of its energy supply or the ability to generate sufficient energy. Whilst not the mandate of local government, the Western Cape will and has taken it on. Its three-year budget cycle sees an investment of R1.1 billion to ensure the Western Cape is as energy resilient and independent from Eskom as possible, generating sufficient energy for its needs – and more cost-effectively.

Alwie shared local government’s immediate priorities:

  • Loadshedding relief packages for poorer disadvantaged communities to allow for the immediate needs of ‘heating, lighting, charging, cooking’ to be met.
  • To expand the current role out of solar power in hospitals to include schools.
  • A 6-month pilot project that will see four towns (George, Saldanha, Stellenbosch and Mossel Bay) taken off the grid, followed by further rollout and the drafting of a network development plan.

The evening ended with a detailed Q&A session that saw our members actively and enthusiastically engage with the local government representatives on these pressing issues and others. It included detailed discussions and ideas around enterprise development, the most effective way for businesses to help combat crime and the use of business’ communication resources in engaging with communities, amongst others.

At a time when collaboration between business and government is more important than ever, this event was a timely reminder of the critical role that each sector plays in driving economic growth and development. We are excited about the opportunities that lie ahead as we continue to work together towards a brighter future for our region.

Our sincerest thanks to our speakers, sponsors, and members for attending and making this event possible. We look forward to continuing the conversation in the weeks and months ahead.

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