Western Cape prioritises green, tech sectors

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The green and technology sectors are among the key industries in which the Western Cape Government (WCG) plans to intensify its support for accelerated economic growth and job creation.

This was the word from premier Alan Winde during his State of the Province Address yesterday, marking the official opening ceremony of the sixth Parliament of the Western Cape.

Winde, who has replaced Helen Zille as leader of the Western Cape, indicated that top on the list of priorities for the WCG is creating more jobs and more economic opportunities for citizens.

He says his government will aim to create the enabling environment for a job in every household and work toward the 2.5% growth rate needed to achieve this.

“We are already the fastest growing economy in South Africa, and we have a proven track record in creating jobs,” he pointed out. “Cape Town has been named the top financial centre in Sub-Saharan Africa, and the city-region has become firmly established as Africa’s technology hub.

“Since being elected as premier 57 days ago, I have established an economic war room that has already set to work on some of the burning issues holding back our economic progress.

“The war room, in its pilot phase, is being funded by Harvard University and is made up of teams from the province, city and private sector, who are focused on unblocking growth inhibitors in the construction and property industry, informal light manufacturing sector, the Atlantis manufacturing hub, and in tech and BPO [business process outsourcing].”

Winde’s assertions come as some of the Western Cape’s cities, like Cape Town and Stellenbosch, are increasingly becoming key hubs in the tech entrepreneur community.     

A report from last year determined that the greater Cape Town area, including Stellenbosch, is the most productive technology sector in Africa.

The report found the greater Cape Town area employs significantly more people than respective tech sectors in Lagos and Nairobi. In addition to the vibrancy of the city's tech entrepreneur community, the research said entrepreneurs prefer Cape Town as the ideal destination to kick-start business.

According to the report, there are five reasons for starting a tech company in Cape Town. These are: Cape Town is an inspiring place for entrepreneurs to network, is perceived as a tech hub, is seen as a vibrant local tech business community for start-up support, provides a globally competitive lifestyle that promotes innovation, and has strong universities and major companies that help bring talent to the city.

In February, research conducted by job search engine Adzuna, which charts vacancies advertised on its platform, found the ICT industry to be the top hiring sector in SA.

Although Johannesburg had the highest number of IT jobs advertised compared to Cape Town, the Western Cape capital city recorded a significant increase in IT jobs. The IT jobs in Cape Town have increased by 15%, the research showed.

Other sectors the provincial government is looking to for accelerated economic growth and job creation include business process outsourcing, construction, finance, manufacturing, energy and utilities.

Moving to STEAMAC

Turning to his attention to education, Winde said the provincial government will work towards developing the new skills required for today and tomorrow.

He explained: “We have all heard of the focus on STEM: science, technology, engineering and maths. We will future-proof our education system by moving from STEM to STEAMAC, and pilot projects in this respect are already in the pipeline.

“The first additional A is for the arts. The second A is for agriculture. Agriculture is a vital part of our economy, and we need to see agricultural education start to play a bigger role in our offer to learners. And I’m not talking about how to milk a cow; I’m talking about how to programme a robot.

“The C in STEAMAC is for coding and cloud computing. These are not skills for some point far off in the future; they are skills we need right now to offer young people with talent access to amazing opportunities in the workplace.

“We need these skills if we are to stay competitive on the global stage,” the premier concluded.


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