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Cape Town sets out to be Africa’s tech capital

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Western Cape premier Alan Winde.
Western Cape premier Alan Winde.

The Western Cape Government (WCG) wants to unite the tech ecosystem within the province to position the City of Cape Town as the tech capital of the African continent.

The provincial government said yesterday it is committed to building Cape Town’s status as “Africa’s tech capital” and affirm it as leader of the African tech ecosystem, to present a common message to the world.

In addition, it seeks to represent the values, skills, talent, innovation and lifestyle offered by the tech ecosystem of Cape Town and the Western Cape.

The Western Cape is home to many tech and digital businesses based primarily in Cape Town and the Stellenbosch region, with the former now ranked among the top 100 emerging start-up ecosystems in the world.

The WCG defines Africa's tech capital as a place with a world-class digital ecosystem, where resources and talent meet commercial and social opportunity.

It points out that the digital economy is one of the province’s competitive advantages, attracting investment into the province, growing outward trade through the export of digital products and capabilities, enhancing the productivity and competitiveness of local companies through the uptake and adoption of digital technologies, and also providing tech career opportunities among young people.

It also notes the tech sector has played an important role in helping businesses pivot and adapt during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Western Cape premier Alan Winde says: “We are excited to proudly declare Cape Town and the Western Cape as Africa’s tech capital. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us just how important this new digital economy is and it bodes well for our province’s recovery plan that we are leading in this space.”

The initiative to position the capital city as the African tech hub is pioneered by the digital economy unit in the Western Cape Department of Economic Development and Tourism.

The government and private sector collaboration includes Wesgro and major tech eco-system stakeholders like the Cape Innovation and Technology Initiative (CiTi), Silicon Cape, LaunchLab and Startup Bootcamp.

The provincial government has called on Western Cape residents to become part of the collective to strengthen Cape Town’s position as Africa’s tech capital.

James Vos, Cape Town mayoral committee member for economic opportunities and asset management, states: “With an Internet take-up of 63% and with one of the largest open-access fibre networks in Africa, Cape Town is home to the vast majority (almost 60%) of South Africa's start-ups.

“The city-funded CiTi is Africa's oldest tech incubator and has turned out more than 2 000 businesses and supported more than 3 000 entrepreneurs since its inception in 1999.

“In response to this growing industry, the City of Cape Town is continuing to invest in IT infrastructure, and to date, the city has installed 848km of fibre-optic cable. As a city, we will continue to support and invest in high-growth sectors that will create jobs for our residents. This is a caring city, but more so, Cape Town is an opportunity city and we are open for business.”

Wesgro CEO Tim Harris concludes: “We need to affirm our status as leader of the African tech ecosystem, and declare this on the international stage. We have overwhelming evidence that Cape Town is Africa’s leading tech capital. Now, we need to jointly tell the world.”

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