“Unified action is imperative, I urge all parties to work together, collaborating jointly to generate the momentum needed for positive outcomes and collective success. We are in this venture together! While competition has its place, let us focus on co-competition.” – Premier Alan Winde
At our recent thought leadership event, we saw the launch of Western Cape Government’s ‘Growth for Jobs’ (G4J) strategy, in collaboration with Business Western Cape (BWC). Anoop Ninan, the Country Managing Partner of Mazars South Africa and our gracious host and sponsor began by underscoring Mazars’ unwavering commitment to job creation. This commitment is exemplified through initiatives like its Data School, operated within the organisation’s Innovation Centre, which now deploys data analysts to serve teams across Europe, the USA, and Australia. Additionally, Anoop highlighted the success of its YES Internship Programme in this endeavour.
Jo-Ann Johnston, DDG at the Department of Economic Development and Tourism for the Western Cape, took the lead in introducing the G4J strategy. Her presentation delved deeper into the strategy’s core principles, pillars, and the broad spectrum of opportunities it opens up for the entire region. Additionally, she highlighted its potential for fostering stronger collaboration between the public and private sectors.
Jo-Ann emphasised the robust strategic foundation of G4J, which has been meticulously shaped through extensive consultations with various stakeholders. This framework is both evidence-led and data-driven. The overarching vision is to cultivate a provincial economy marked by substantial growth, resulting in increased employment and opportunities. This economy is envisioned to be sustainable, resilient, diverse, and prosperous—instilling confidence, hope, and prosperity for all. The ambitious goal is to achieve a R1-trillion inclusive economy, experiencing a growth rate of 4% – 6% per annum by 2035.”
To achieve these objectives, seven crucial short- and medium-term priority areas have been identified. These targets aim to horizontally bolster the economy, addressing key constraints and urgent challenges:
- Driving Growth through Investment: The target is to have private sector investments reach 20% of the regional GDP, equivalent to R200 billion by 2035.
- Energy Resilience and Net Zero Carbon Transition: Our aim is to decrease reliance on Eskom by 1,800 – 5,700 MW by 2035. This move is projected to attract investments ranging from R21.6 – R68.4 billion. The Western Cape government has pledged R1.1 billion over the next three years in support.
- Technology and Innovation: We’re committed to a 300% increase in research and development expenditure, totalling R35 billion in real terms. Additionally, venture capital deals are anticipated to amount to R20 billion.
- Enhanced Access to Economic Opportunities and Employability.
- Stimulating Market Growth through Exports and Domestic Markets: The objective is to triple the value of the province’s exports of goods and services by 2035.
- Water Security and Resilience: The goal is to double the available water for secondary and tertiary economic sectors by 2035. This chiefly involves utilizing non-productive resources. We also aim to honour existing allocations to agriculture.
- Infrastructure and a Connected Economy: By 2035, we envision having the necessary infrastructure in place to support the R1-trillion economy. This involves investments equivalent to 10% of the regional GDP, amounting to R32.6 billion allocated over the next three years.
These focus areas have been meticulously selected to pave the way towards a robust and sustainable economic future for the Western Cape.
Mireille Wenger, Minister of Finance and Economic Opportunities in the Western Cape, underscored the critical phase we’re entering. She emphasised that achieving our goals hinges on collective effort. “It’s your responsibility to create the jobs necessary to uplift more individuals from poverty to prosperity. Simultaneously, it’s the government’s duty to facilitate and streamline this process. Mireille stressed that true progress can only be achieved through strong partnerships.
Furthermore, she emphasised the unprecedented importance of supporting the private sector. This encompasses formal, informal, and township-based businesses, which serve as the driving force behind economic growth and job creation both in our country and worldwide.
Premier Alan Winde highlighted the imperative of unified action. He urged all parties to work together, collaborating jointly to generate the momentum needed for positive outcomes and collective success. “We are in this venture together! While competition has its place, let us focus on co-competition. To achieve these goals, it must be a collective effort. Today, as we launch G4J, we’re uniting Western Cape businesses. It’s an exciting opportunity, and I eagerly anticipate your engagement with this strategy.”
Dr. Willie Cilliers, the chairperson of the newly restructured Business Western Cape (BWC), outlined its mission to become the leading business organisation in the province, championing structured small and medium-sized enterprises. He emphasised BWC’s role as a collective voice, actively engaging with the government and establishing positive, constructive partnerships. “Our primary focus is on uncovering opportunities. We have a clear strategy for initiating G4J, and we are wholeheartedly committed to collaborative efforts.”
Additionally, representatives from diverse economic clusters participated in a panel discussion, offering insights on both the opportunities and challenges tied to G4J. These clusters encompassed The Black Business Chamber, Western Cape Business Opportunities Forum, Green Building Council South Africa, The National African Federated Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and the Afrikaanse Handelsinstituut (AHi).
Nishendra Moodley, CEO of the Western Cape Economic Development Partnership, reiterated the significance of collaboration. He described G4J as an excellent government approach to economic growth and development, as it represents the collective effort of society towards achieving a shared set of goals. Nishendra emphasised that partnership should be ingrained in our approach. Equally crucial is having the right organisational leadership and culture to ensure a continuous understanding of both the environment and the systems in play, along with the challenges and potential solutions at hand.
Ryan Ravens, CEO of Accelerate Cape Town, provided a closing statement, addressing the audience with a candid perspective on the economic outlook, “The economic outlook is bleak. We cannot sugarcoat it, but we also can’t sit back and wait to be rescued.” He emphasised the joint responsibility of business and the government in the region to collaborate and devise solutions, underscoring the crucial focus on implementation, without which any strategy would be futile.
Ryan highlighted the potential of G4J as a guiding beacon, emphasising the necessity for unified effort, stating, “But we all must be in it together. We don’t always need to agree, but we do need to work together to create a future for all.”