‘Turn risk into opportunities’

2019-03-19 06:00
Wesgro CEO Tim HarrisPHOTO: Thabang Kuaho

Wesgro CEO Tim HarrisPHOTO: Thabang Kuaho

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Turning risks into opportunities for the City of Cape Town, was the main focus of Wesgro’s annual The Cape’s Global Economic Priorities event, held at Nasdak, Media24 on Wednesday 13 March.

Deputy Governor of the South African Reserve Bank Kuben Naidoo, provincial minister for Economic Opportunities Beverly Schafer as well as Mayco member for economic opportunities and asset management James Vos attended the event.

Wesgro is Cape Town and the Western Cape’s official Tourism, Trade and Investment Promotion Agency, and receives its mandate and funding from the Western Cape Government’s Department of Economic Development and Tourism and the City of Cape Town.

Delivering the keynote address, Naidoo painted a candid picture of the country’s current economic landscape. He pointed out how South Africa’s economic growth broadly tracked global growth between 1996 and 2010.

He acknowledged that the international economic environment contributed to South Africa’s economic slow-down to half the pace of the global rate between 2011 and 2019 largely due to domestic issues. He emphasised the need to build trust in order to attract and sustain investors.

“Trust is a critical part of the economic investment process and we have had a significant breakdown in trust from partners. However, we have begun a slow and steady ride back-up. There are no quick wins and easy solutions, it will take years to rebuild trust, but we are moving in the right direction,” Naidoo said.

Senior economist at Wesgro Janine Botha delved into a broader overview of the global economic landscape. She provided an in-depth analysis of the global economy and the consequences these will have for the province.

Some of the challenges included rising US-protectionism; tightening of global financial conditions and financial market instability; the impact of Brexit; and the rising risk of economic growth recessions, among others.

In spite of the weakening global expansion, Botha pointed out that emerging markets and developing economies are expected to outperform advanced economies, with some of the fastest growing economies located on the African continent.

“With Cape Town and the Western Cape being a gateway to the rest of Africa, the province is strategically positioned to tap into the opportunities forecast for the continent, in particular, Sub-Saharan Africa,” she noted.

Schafer stressed the need for partnerships between government and the private sector. “Our focus should be on growing the future economy now, embracing the Fourth Industrial Revolution and further positioning Cape Town and the Western Cape as the tech hub in Africa. Investments from global tech giants such as Amazon already shows confidence in this sector,” says Schafer.

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