Sectoral Pockets of Excellence
The Western Cape economy keeps outperforming the South African national growth trends. Following are some sectors within our regional economy showing exceptional prospects, as identified by Wesgro, the organisation tasked for promoting the province’s economy.
The Western Cape has great potential as a global Biotechnology industry hub. Currently, an estimated 60% of South Africa’s biotechnology start-ups originate in the Western Cape. These businesses operate within agriculture, medical and industrial biotechnology, including product niches such as medical devices, nutraceuticals, pharmaceuticals and wine. In particular, the medical biotechnology industry is supported by the highest concentration of medical practitioners and specialists in the country. Furthermore, the Western Cape’s fundamental competitive biotechnological advantage is its unique plant and associated microbial diversity – the Western Cape biome contains the richest plant biodiversity on earth! To support industry, South Africa’s first private Biotechnology incubator (Catalyst Innovation in Cape Town) and a national Biotechnology Venture Capital fund (Bioventures) has been established.
The film industry in the Western Cape is estimated to be worth R2 billion per year with indirect spin-offs to hospitality, clothing, carpentry and other sectors. To build on the industry’s current potential, the Western Cape Provincial Government has, in 2004, given its long-term support for building an international film studio in conjunction with private sector stakeholder. This will position this industry for international film productions as it incorporates eight sound stages, various production facilities, digital facilities and outdoor back lot areas. This studio strongly links with the “Cape magic” of the mountains and winelands, and has been designed as a “Cape village”, drawing inspiration from the streets and squares of the Western Cape.
West Africa is currently viewed as the fastest growing oil and gas exploration and production area in the world, representing plenty of opportunities for oil and gas service providers in the Western Cape. Cape Town is strategically located as a gateway to West Africa and has the largest port in the region with superior industrial back up. In 2004, the Western Cape government officially launched the Cape Oil and Gas Initiative (COGSI) in order to gear the Western Cape for the lucrative opportunities presented by the oil and gas boom along the West Coast of Africa. Key requirements for success in this industry include: quality, reliability, short turnaround times, and adherence to international standards. The COGSI aims to support local industry in these critical performance areas as well as nurture networks with key stakeholders, including other African Governments.
Deregulation and liberalization in agriculture during the past decade have accelerated restructuring in this sector and brought to the fore lucrative opportunities for niche products sold both domestically and internationally. For example, there is a solid demand for health and organic foods, herbs and aseptically packaged products. Aquaculture, in particular, is a rising star showing phenomenal growth over a relatively short period. This industry has shown remarkable success in aligning itself with international trends in areas such as industry standards, product specialization, economies of scale, etc. As a result, large investments made in this industry over the past decade, especially for abalone production, are now bearing fruit. Other key freshwater species produced in the Western Cape include mussels, oysters, trout and Cape Salmon.
Lastly, the Western Cape has a world-class tourism sector with Cape Town as a key anchor. The latter was listed in 2004 as one of the top 5 international tourist destinations. As such, the Western Cape has the highest average expenditure per domestic tourist for all the provinces and is South Africa’s leading destination for overseas visitors. Key segments of the tourism sector - such as eco- and adventure tourism, incentive tourism, health tourism, corporate tourism and conferences - have been identified as growth areas within the Western Cape. In 2004, the Western Cape Tourism Act was ratified. It embodies private-public partnership and cooperative governance between the different spheres of government. Most importantly it gives more autonomy to the local spheres of government in the Western Cape to develop the tourism sector.