Cities have become far more important in the context of the economy in recent years (Frost and Sullivan) and they have responded. Watch this 20-minute video from Bruce Katz as he explains the measures US cities are taking to grow their economy.
Cape Town has similarly outlined their economic strategy and the city identifies that economic growth should leverage the cities core competencies whilst aligning with major international, continental and regional growth trends. It will also be a major focus to ensure that the growth occurs in sectors that have the possibility of creating numerous jobs for semi-skilled and unskilled workers.
Based on the need for the city to specialise and produce value-added products, it seems like the industries the city should pursue to push growth, because they meet the three criteria above, are high-tech industries within health, energy, telecommunications and agriculture. This falls in line with global growth and continental growth trends.
Due to the city also being the advertising and design capital of the continent, the manufacturing of consumer goods may be a also be a good sector to enter, as the retail and wholesale sector is doing well, and it has been found that an improved manufacturing sector, will drastically improve the economy.
In the cities’ economic strategy document, it is stated that Cape Town needs to find a niche to specialise in, this niche should be entrepreneurship, as Cape Town already has 190% more entrepreneurial activity than South Africa’s average, and high-tech and manufacturing intensive entrepreneurship to be more specific. To drive this activity, there will need to be much better cohesion with the universities in the region. Students in the sciences should have a clear path for themselves to move from academia into a start-up business.
The “inventors” within the universities should be exposed to industry knowledge of key tech industries as well as students from other faculties, so that they will be able to conceptualise, design and commercialise or implement their ideas. If a structured programme is put in place, with the universities and city working together, Cape Town might just secure itself a growth rate of in excess of the so called “magic” 6%.
p.s. Something to look at is http://www.rcips.uct.ac.za/ip/overview/ , hopefully we will see the city getting far more involved in this initiative in future.