It seems like only yesterday that 2014 was starting off, with national elections top-of-mind for the entire country. Business certainly wasn’t immune and the first half of the year seemed consumed by inertia borne out of uncertainty. Fortunately, post-election there have been a few ‘green shoots’ in the economy, with Government seemingly beginning to address the critical need to grow the economy. The World Bank’s recent candid assessment that fiscal intervention has reached its limits has been long known in the business community. You cannot re-distribute what doesn’t exist.
For the business leadership of Cape Town and the region, the year has seen a few notable successes. Not the least of these has been the City’s position on making Cape Town Africa’s first fully digital city. At our AGM in August, I pressed Mayor de Lille to unlock economic opportunities through breaking out City-controlled broadband fibre to under-serviced communities and to SMEs. She responded two weeks later, announcing her intention to do just that at the SA Innovation Summit. That business’ voice has been heard and acted on sets us on the right trajectory. Execution will now be key to taking this aspect of our regional economy forward. Regarding execution, we recently heard from Jabu Mabuza, Chairman of Telkom at our CEO Breakfast about Telkom’s aim to champion SA’s broadband strategy. Telkom, as main infrastructure lead of SA Connect, owns 92% of cable in South Africa (147 000km out of the total of 161 000km) and wants to expedite the 2030 targets.
I recently spent the G20 build-up week in Brisbane as part of a panel discussing New world cities: Capitalising on global trends. The Brisbane Global Cafe brought together 80 experts from around the world to look at issues of cities’ global competitiveness, the long-term future of cities and the role of business in charting the future. Key emerging themes included talent attraction and retention, innovation and sustainable growth (both environmental and also social). These are issues clearly not unique to Cape Town and it was pleasing to see that what we are doing here holds great interest to the global business and investor community.
As the region’s premier business leadership organisation, Accelerate Cape Town’s raison ‘d’être is clear – to be a nimble, flexible and focussed organisation which acts with and for corporate business to enable a high-growth, inclusive economy. There is a definite need to keep our collective eyes on and beyond the immediate horizon, giving clear articulation to what Cape Town needs both now and over the next 10-15 years. The changing nature of business/Government interaction, particularly at city-level, means we have an increasing role to play in guiding the policies and practices which are required over the medium-to longer-term. Read more about our business vision for Cape Town as featured in the State of Cape Town 2014 report.
I look forward to working with the regional leadership to ensure that 2015 is the year of execution – that will be the key to unlocking our future, one of inclusive growth and prosperity.