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In Conversation with Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis | Resilience & Divergence – our city’s building blocks for success!

It was once again an honour to host Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis as part of our ongoing series of networking events between Western Cape business and local government. Last week’s session provided the opportunity for Mayor Hill-Lewis to update Accelerate Cape Town members on the successes and challenges that he and his team engage in and are committed to.

In the face of an increasingly volatile and uncertain operating environment, Ryan Ravens, CEO of Accelerate Cape Town, emphasised the necessity for stronger unity and collaboration between business and government. This sentiment was echoed by Gavin Fitzmaurice, Webber Wentzel’s Cape Town Managing Partner, who highlighted the importance of absolute clarity and focus on issues requiring deeper stakeholder collaboration. Fitzmaurice urged private business to continue taking responsibility for upliftment of the communities in which they operate, thereby contributing to the benefit of all.

Mayor Hill-Lewis highlighted his team’s focus on building resilience amidst significant pressures, such as Cape Town’s rapidly growing population, the collapse of essential public services across South Africa, fiscal constraints, and environmental concerns driven by climate change. Equally important to resilience is divergence: Cape Town aims to proudly differentiate itself from other South African metros, showcasing that success is attainable and offering hope to millions of citizens currently in despair due to the ongoing decline in service delivery.

Recent successes in the City of Cape Town include:

  • Job Creation.
    Six straight quarters of job growth, with the number of people employed in Cape Town at an all-time high (including pre-Covid). Since election of the current local administration, over 300 000 new jobs in Cape Town have been created – key to transitioning our citizens out of poverty and towards an empowered and sustainable life.

 

  • Investment in local infrastructure.
    The last two years have seen Cape Town expand its ability to deliver on large infrastructure projects. Its current 3-year infrastructure budget stands at R43-billion – more than Johannesburg and Durban combined and is expected to create an additional 135 000 jobs. The next decade (2022 – 2031) will see a total investment of R120-billion. Infrastructure focus areas include upgrading wastewater works & sewers, new water sources, an end to loadshedding, expansion of the MyCiTi bus service, road upgrades & congestion relief, and land lease for affordable housing. A city’s success depends on its bricks and mortar, nuts and bolts! This investment in local infrastructure will be what makes the most difference in Cape Town moving forward.

 

  • Loadshedding – the biggest threat to our country’s economy.
    • Power Heroes Programme (incentive to encourage Capetonians to save power at peak times): Procurement and contract completed, with 70 homes in Somerset West already in pilot phase. To be officially launched in April this year.
    • Cash for Power (earn money by selling power back to the city): Approximately 900 businesses in the city currently involved in this programme, with the roll out to homeowners imminent.
    • Solar Photovoltaic (SPV) installations: A new online application portal launched mid-March to speed up approvals from months to almost instantaneously.
    • Independent Power Producers (IPP): All procurement completed, currently in contracting phase.

 

  • Building Plan Approvals.
    From January – December 2022, the province passed building plans worth R37-billion – more than any other province (including Gauteng).

 

  • Sewage blockages.
    February 2024 saw the lowest number of sewage blockages across the city in five years – a direct result of the City’s investment in sewage infrastructure upgrades.

 

  • Investment in safety.
    An investment in technology for Cape Metro Police (body cameras for all officers, dashboard cameras for officers’ vehicles, eye in the sky drone technology, greater CCTV coverage) to provide officers on the ground with greater intelligence leading to greater impact. Whilst the battle is far from won, with violent crime still far too high, this investment has seen a decrease in several hot spot areas where it has been implemented.

 

  • Investment in public transport.
    Expansion of the MyCiTi bus rapid transport service is currently the largest public transport infrastructure project in the country. This will provide access to safe and efficient public transport for those living in Khayelitsha and Mitchells Plain – through to Claremont (Southern Suburbs) and the CBD.

 

  • Homelessness.
    An investment of R253m for alternative accommodation and care interventions. In addition, Hill-Lewis also reported a greater success rate with the local court system that forms part of its efforts to provide care, dignity and effective solutions for our city’s homeless whilst also fulfilling the City’s responsibility toward combatting urban decay.

 

  • Urban Improvement.
    A focus on engendering a culture of respect and community ownership for public spaces. This includes projects to improve the look and feel of public spaces, with ‘Bingo’ (the City’s recently launched anti-litter mascot) an example of this

 

Mayor Hill-Lewis emphasised that Cape Town can serve as a model for South Africa’s success, acknowledging the City’s challenges while affirming his team’s commitment to not succumbing to pressure but rather to keep progressing positively, one step at a time. He underscored the importance of setting high standards and holding oneself accountable to them.

In closing, Mayor Hill-Lewis emphasised and reiterated the need for committed and ongoing partnerships between the public and private sectors. “We need corporate South Africa to see the opportunity and to continue investing. This, to enable us to continue growing with a strong and flourishing economy as our foundation.”

The afternoon’s session ended with an interactive Q&A session that provided members the opportunity for further discussions with Mayor Hill-Lewis on specific areas of interest.

Our sincerest thanks to our speakers, guests, sponsors and members for your continued support of these vital engagement sessions. We remain committed to facilitating ongoing interaction between government and business as part of our shared goal of economic growth and prosperity for our city and country.

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