Eastern Cape makes inroads with coastal smart city

Sibahle Malinga
By Sibahle Malinga, ITWeb senior news journalist.
Johannesburg, 21 Feb 2022

The Eastern Cape (EC) government is working to ensure the province is not left behind in South Africa’s fourth industrial revolution vision, by pushing ahead with the development of its African coastal smart city.

This was the word from Eastern Cape premier Lubabalo Oscar Mabuyane, speaking during his State of the Province Address at the Eastern Cape Provincial Legislature last week.

Mabuyane outlined the province’s agenda for the sixth term, noting it remains informed by the Eastern Cape Provincial Development Plan – Vision 2030.

He detailed the Provincial Medium-Term Strategic Framework, which forms part of Vision 2030, as it seeks to contribute towards addressing unemployment, poverty and inequality.

Mabuyane pointed out the tourism sector has been identified as among those that could jumpstart the province’s economic recovery. He said government is on course to complete infrastructure upgrades and introduce digital technologies to maximise the potential to attract a greater market share of domestic tourists to the Eastern Cape.

“The development of the African coastal smart city is gaining momentum, following the president’s roadshow on the Eastern Seaboard towards the end of 2021.

“This initiative is going to serve as a game-changer and a catalyst for further development and investment attraction throughout the Wild Coast. There are already investors who have expressed an interest in the area.

“To facilitate implementation on the Eastern Cape side of the programme, we have appointed Coega to package our projects,” explained Mabuyane.

The pronouncement comes as SA is building a new South African city driven solely by smart technologies, which is taking shape in Lanseria, Gauteng, as highlighted by president Cyril Ramaphosa during his State of the Nation Address in 2020.

This city, which Ramaphosa referred to as a truly post-Apartheid city, will have 350 000 to half-a-million people who will call it home in the next decade.

Meanwhile, the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition has collaborated with Ford Motor Company SA to develop the Tshwane Automotive Special Economic Zone, which is billed as Africa’s first automotive city.

The hub, first announced by Ramaphosa in 2019, is designed to help SA’s automotive sector better respond to the demands of the fourth industrial revolution and compete with global players.

According to Mabuyane, as part of the province’s vision, the Eastern Cape Parks and Tourism Agency has already employed some of the strategies across cities, including using tech to track and profile tourists’ needs and their perception of the region.

“This valuable tool will sharpen marketing investment across the sector. Our top 15 iconic tourist destinations have been digitised and are available on the virtual platforms, where potential tourists could virtually tour them. To spoil the tourists with choice, these virtual tours are being increased to 27 as we speak. We look forward to welcoming visitors during the Easter holidays.”

He also touched on the progress of the province’s digital migration. “The Eastern Cape will transition from analogue to digital broadcasting next month. Among other benefits, viewers will enjoy improved picture quality on their television sets.”