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Business key to Tshwane's growth

23 August 2012 - Tshwane officials got together with business during economic growth week, part of the City's public participation outreach process for the Tshwane 2055 project.

chief-economistTshwane's chief economist Shaakira Karolia gives an overview of the City's position in terms of the national and global economic situation.

The business sector has a major role to play in the future growth of Tshwane.

This emerged during a public meeting at the Tshwane Events Centre in the CBD on Thursday 23 August, where officials from the municipality and representatives from the Capital City Business Chamber (CCBC) discussed the City's long-term development strategy, Tshwane 2055.

Residents and workers from the private, public, diplomatic and informal sectors are all being polled for their views on the way forward for growth and development, over an intensive seven-week process that started on 1 August, where each week has a specific theme. The theme for the week of 20-24 August is economic growth.

The information gathered in the engagement process will be analysed and moulded into a policy document that is expected to be launched in October. The document will include an implementation plan up to the year 2055.

"We want people to feel like they are part of the city," said Msizi Myeza of the City's strategy development and implementation department. "This is why we're going out to all the communities to hear what people have to say."

Myeza said one of Tshwane's strengths is that it's a young city, and its young people can contribute to Tshwane 2055 by becoming part of the mainstream economy.

The city has numerous other advantages, he said, including its strong knowledge and science base, its potential for infrastructure investment as well as opportunities around green issues and urban agriculture. Tshwane's many diplomatic missions and high concentration of academic institutions also puts it in a favourable position.

All these factors can contribute to the City's long-term vision of a safe, healthy and sustainable environment whose residents experience a good quality of living.

Engagement is key

Chief economist for Tshwane, Shaakira Karolia, encouraged residents to take ownership of the plan, saying there are many ways to give input, including attending meetings, sending emails and through the project website.

"Engagement is key for the success of Tshwane 2055," she asserted.

Karolia was presenting an overview of the City's position in terms of the national and global economic situation. Tshwane fares well in relation to its nearest competitors - Johannesburg and Cape Town, she said, showing the best overall economic output in the country since 2004.

"Tshwane has consistently been the fastest-growing metro of the three, so when people talk about Johannesburg and Cape Town as drivers of growth in the country, they should include Tshwane."

The city also showed the highest average export growth rate between 2004 and 2009, although its import growth rate was small. But it has the lowest unemployment rate of all South Africa's major metros, and the lowest poverty rates in Gauteng.

Furthermore, Tshwane has the highest per-capita gross value added (GVA) – an indicator that measures the value of goods and services produced in an area – in South Africa. Most of the contribution to the city's GVA comes from community services and finance, followed by manufacturing and trade. This is because most government department head offices are located in the city, as is the Reserve Bank.

Despite this progress, there are still challenges, and Tshwane 2055 aims to address and overcome these.

"But ICT is the one sector that we are all lagging in," said Karolia. "We need to rethink policy in order to stimulate the sector and keep up with our African competitors, such as Nigeria."

The role of business

With 350 members on its database, the CCBC also aims to play an important role to support the growth of business in the city. CEO Fanie du Plessis said the organisation's vision is to achieve this through networking opportunities, where they act as a source of information for the community.

Working with the Tshwane University of Technology, the CCBC has also recently launched its junior chamber to help and mentor young people to succeed in business, said Du Plessis.

In his closing remarks, chairman of the chamber's central and west division, Neo Rampa, said a mobilised business sector can make a big impact in economic growth. He encouraged CCBC members to continue to work together, and urged more companies to swell the chamber's ranks.

The theme weeks still to come are: