Hope in a time of Crisis

As part of an ongoing series of engagements between business and government, newly appointed Western Cape Provincial Minister of Finance and Economic Opportunities, MEC Mireille Wenger, met with representatives of Western Cape business to continue discussions on key issues driving the local (and national) agenda. Convened by Accelerate Cape Town, the session provided the opportunity for Minister Wenger to share her strategy and plans for the region moving forward.

At the start of the discussions Accelerate Cape Town CEO, Ryan Ravens said, “We continue to face substantial and unprecedented storm clouds – escalating food and fuel prices, devastating weather anomalies, the ongoing dire electricity crisis, in addition to legacy socio-economic factors that are all having an enormously detrimental impact on the lives of our citizens.

“Now more than ever, it is imperative for effective and meaningful collaboration between the private sector and government,” continued Ravens. “Together, we need to build a stronger and more resilient economic ecosystem moving forward.”

Amidst frank discussions on current challenges, Wenger reiterated the importance of such partnerships and provincial government’s commitment to building them as it seeks to grow the Western Cape economy. “Delivering hope requires much less talk, and a whole lot more action in South Africa” stressed Wenger.

Minister Wenger went on to share current (and future) initiatives in the Western Cape – all focused on removing barriers to economic growth, the key to which is the building of energy resilience in the Western Cape.

“It is our goal to make the Western Cape load-shedding free, as soon as possible,” said Wenger. The Municipal Energy Resilience (MER) initiative of the Western Cape Government is aimed at improving energy resilience in municipalities across the province.

“For business to succeed, we need to build the infrastructure that will stimulate growth and improve connectivity – some of the very best support we can provide,” continued Wenger. “We also need to make it easier and cheaper for people to travel to and from work, and to access opportunities across our province.” In line with this, February 2022 saw the announcement that two new departments will be created in the Western Cape – Infrastructure and Mobility – to develop the strategies and interventions needed to stimulate economic growth.

Other areas discussed included the removal of barriers to growth with a key focus on the Port of Cape Town. Recently ranked 365th out of 370 ports globally (World Bank’s Container Port Performance Index Report 2021), Wenger expressed her commitment to working with all parties, including the private sector, to ensure the return of a world-class port able to grow the economy and create jobs. Immediate interventions include the appointment of a project manager in the Provincial Department of Economic Development and Tourism to work with key stakeholders in addressing immediate challenges.

On the topic of safety and security, Wenger also stressed the need for safer communities and reflected on how the province’s safety plan has already resulted in over 1000 additional law enforcement officers deployed to crime hotspots.

Wenger ended by emphasizing the importance of business as a partner: “I believe you are our partners in this effort, and that frank conversations on what we are doing to respond to the challenges that we face is the best way to move us forward” commented Wenger.

“The reality is that we can bring hope back in South Africa if we take the action needed to solve our challenges. We have everything we need to succeed” ended the Minister.

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