2015 started with the reality of low economic growth in 2014 and an energy crisis threatening to impact on business growth and much-needed job creation. To address this issue, Accelerate Cape Town engaged with the Economic Development Partnership, Western Cape Government (WCG), the City of Cape Town (City) and GreenCape in a co-facilitated workshop between business and government on 3 March which included Deputy Mayor Neilson and Premier Zille and their respective Mayco and Cabinet colleagues – read more of the outcomes of this workshop. This followed an initial meeting with the infrastructure and economic clusters of the WCG, City and Eskom to understand the reality of the crisis and what is possible. As energy security is a potential issue for the next 5 – 7 years, Accelerate Cape Town will be hosting a broader energy security event on 27 March as part of our Sustainability Forum and will host further engagements to ensure business stability.
On a more positive note, innovation in Cape Town is thriving and is a key focus for Accelerate Cape Town in 2015. This was highlighted in my recent article in Business Day: Western Cape moving in right direction in terms of innovation as I feel we have so many of the ingredients necessary for a successful and growing region. We recently hosted two networking sessions: the first focused on A Strategic Approach to Innovation: Driving Business and Economies with contributions from Monitor Deloitte and BMGI; and then Dr Bernie Fanaroff spoke about the opportunities from the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project, including developing and attracting big data analytics, high-performance computing and engineering skills in Cape Town – read more about this CEO Engagement.
We have also been involved in a project undertaken by the Western Cape (WC) Government called Project Khulisa. Following initial research, Project Khulisa has identified industry sectors that have the greatest potential to provide major opportunities in the next 3 – 5 years which include Tourism, Agri-processing and Oil and Gas. The WC Government will be hosting a series of engagements with industry and, while Accelerate Cape Town will be engaged in the process, we encourage business to participate for greater contribution and so that we can communicate to the WC Government what business views as strategic priorities.
Finally, I would like to offer our members the opportunity to engage in a strategic discussion around global megatrends and the key economic issues for 2015 to help with your business planning. I recently engaged with the senior team at the V&A which resulted in a very constructive discussion.