Despite a terrible start to 2016, South Africa managed to avoid a ratings downgrade in June and we were on a positive economic trajectory for a brief period, thanks largely to the local government election which demonstrated the strength of our democracy, and external factors which buoyed emerging markets. The Rand enjoyed a brief period of strengthening, but it now seems that much of the positive sentiment and confidence has been lost as political risk once again emerges.
Business and Government Collaboration: earlier this year, ratings agency S&P, warned that if there is no improvement in the economic fundamentals of South Africa that a downgrade of our investment rating is inevitable. As a result, government engaged with business to create four key work streams and Accelerate Cape Town has hosted the co-leaders of two of these work streams: Mike Brown, CEO of Nedbank and Monale Ratsoma, Deputy Director-General of Treasury looking at the probability of an investment ratings downgrade; and Sim Tshabalala, CEO of Standard Bank, looking at the interventions required in key industry sectors to stimulate growth. We intend to maintain this key focus area as the role of organised business becomes increasingly important with respect to engaging government to create the type of environment we need to conduct business optimally and grow the economy – see more to get an overview of the focus areas and work streams.
Business and University Collaboration: our universities in the Western Cape are some of the most innovative in South Africa and as part of our Innovation Programme, we are working with Tech Transfer Offices to highlight inventions and innovation from our universities, and build greater collaboration. This includes supporting the spin-out companies from our universities through mentoring and thus, we are developing a Mentorship Programme – see more about university innovation and the types of products that are being commercialised into spin-out companies.
Transport Congestion: transport issues in Cape Town are beginning to impact on business productivity and Accelerate Cape Town has collaborated with Wesgro to highlight government plans and have frank discussions with the various transport providers about potential solutions. The reality is that with our geographic layout in the CBD, we have fewer options to build ourselves out of the problem and thus, need to look at behavioural change to move away from single occupancy vehicle usage. Read about different solutions available which aim to reduce the number of cars on our roads.
Digital Cape Town: data is the new currency and global IP traffic will reach 2.3 zettabytes by 2020. Accelerate Cape Town highlighted the opportunities from Big Data and Data Centres as part of our Digital Cape Town Programme and looks further at what is required to convert data into valuable information. Accelerate Cape Town is currently working with AfricaCom on their November conference to highlight Smart Cities and the Internet of Things, as well as Big Data.
As the Q2 2016 GDP growth demonstrated – 3.3% is the highest growth rate since Q4 of 2014 – all is not lost due to political malaise and there is much to work toward as corporate South Africa. We are up for the challenge and look forward to continued collaboration with our incredible group of corporate members to bring this country back from the economic precipice.