“We make a good partner to do business in Africa. If we’re not successful in some space, bypass South Africa and go directly to that market. But have a look at our region”, says Alan Winde, the Democratic Alliance (DA) Minister of Finance, Economic Development and Tourism for the Western Cape Government.
Winde points out that in the three years since coming to power in the Western Cape, “we’ve attracted ZAR 30.1bn worth of FDI (foreign direct investment), that’s a 27 per cent increase on the previous three years…and this was achieved during a recession.
“Have a look at those companies who are doing business in Africa using South Africa. DHL have just chosen Cape Town as their Sub-Saharan African head office. Steinhoff have moved their international HQ to Stellenbosch.”
“Google have set up an operation in Cape Town. We see a large number of British companies investing in our region, specifically in back office processing and call centres, and they’re seeing the advantages that we have. Whether it be in the actual region and lifestyle, in our ability to fit into the market.”
“Out of the UK we’re seeing a lot of investment into the BPOs (business process outsourcing) coming into the region,” says Winde, and he mentions that the Western Cape has made a commitment to double trade with the UK.
“Another growth sector is in oil and gas. We’re seeing the gas finds in Mozambique, we’re seeing the oil finds on the west coast that are already prominent. We believe that as the Western Cape we’ve got a huge opportunity in offering services, ship repairs and logistics for the oil and gas industry” he says.
Winde estimates that logistics services and sales in oil and gas over the next five years may be in the region of ZAR 250bn. “We’re busy with a project in Saldanha Bay. It’s a deep water port, and we’re [creating] an industrial development zone (IDZ) for that specific industry.”
“We can start to service those rigs. And it’s much closer to either Cape Town or Saldanha, or any of the ports in South Africa, rather than towing it all the way either to Europe or to Singapore.”
“Another area is the green economy. The Western Cape is the ideal place, with our great universities. Three of our universities rate in the top ten in Africa and we’re really well placed to attract investment into the green economy. We’ve seen huge interest of late in the renewable economies, and there’s huge opportunities opening up.”
“There are also lots of opportunities in agri processing. We’re actually starting to process a lot more of the product in our province, before it gets sent to market. And of course we can grow tourism enormously.”
“We are busy rolling out broadband across our province, creating the opportunity for business to ride on the back of that broadband. It is a big strategy, we’re spending a lot of money on it, and it is going to be the big driver of the economy.”
Winde has a programme, which he calls red tape to red carpet. “It’s about doing business and making it easier to do business. I’m available any time of the day.”
“If ever you pick up difficulties in doing business with us in our region or in South Africa, I’ve got no problem in highlighting the red tape issues either in local government or in national government. But where we can make those changes, we will.”
“It’s also about your individual problem, whatever it may be. We’ve got someone who will take that problem and drive it right through until we find a solution. So we’re open for business, and we really want to make it easier to do business.”