MINISTER ALAN WINDE SAYS: "Western Cape must work for growth"
The guests here with Minister Alan Winde, Minister of Economic Opportunities are from left Jan Scannell (Chairman of Stellenbosch 360), Thandi Mrali (Stellenbosch Artist), Thembi Koli (Kayamandi Tour Guide) and Nocawe Piedt (Owner of Dine-With-Locals, Kayamandi).
"Western Cape must work for growth"
Alan Winde, provincial minister of Agriculture, Economic Development and Tourism, was the guest speaker at the recent Stellenbosch 360 Networking Function presented in collaboration with the Stellenbosch Sakekamer, SKAL International - Cape Winelands and Helderberg Cape Business for the business communities of the Stellenboschand Helderberg areas in Stellenbosch.
(The following article by journalist Maryke Swart appeared in DistrictMail, Eikestadnuus and Network24)
Fourteen new direct flights to Cape Town International Airport and the province’s R42+ billion exports to Africa in 2017 are but a few new initiatives in which the Western Cape Government seeks to promote job creation and economic growth in the business and tourism sectors.
In his address to Stellenbosch 360’s joint business network function at the Protea Hotel on Monday 23 April, Alan Winde, provincial minister of Agriculture, Economic Development and Tourism, acknowledged the crippling effect the continued drought has had on the economy.
The function was held in collaboration with the Stellenbosch Sakekamer, SKAL International - Cape Winelands and Helderberg Cape Business.
“The economy has made it more difficult to operate a business in,” Winde said, “but lately there has been a slight turnaround, even though we are still in a tough space. The water crisis is a risk that put pressure on not only tourism but all around.”
Therefore, the Western Cape Government initiated strategic goals as a means to revive the economy by developing the sectors within the province that are growing the fastest.
Winde said despite the challenging economic times that especially has put the Department of Agriculture under severe pressure for the last three years, particularly because of the drought, the tourism sector has been doing well in terms of relieving some of the pressure and making up for the shortfall.
Retention of jobs
He, however, commended the agriculture sector for doing everything in its power to “keep jobs”.
“There are farmers who pulled out vineyards two years earlier just to secure jobs,” Winde said.
He said in an effort to assist and stimulate growth and create job opportunities in the province’s fast growing sectors, Project Khulisa was implemented in 2014, placing a special focus on tourism, agri-processing, and oil and gas as the fastest growing sectors.
Winde said one of the first goals were to divert trade away from the core markets by looking for new markets to tap into.
Back then the African continent was still a fairly “untapped” market. “There were practically no trade exports to Africa,” he said, “but since then we’ve seen a substantial growth in new markets. Last year, we had R36 billion in trade to Europe and more than R42 billion in trade exports to Africa.
Red Tape Reduction Unit
Winde said a large part of the success is owed to the establishment of a Red Tape Reduction Unit, tasked with the challenge of removing red tape, a core element that restricts business growth, to make business easier. Since its inception, the unit has had a 92% success rate and has saved businesses an enormous R800 million in getting approvals.
“It’s about making a proactive mindshift,” he told the gathering.
Businesses to move into Africa
Winde encouraged businesses to move into Africa. “Agriculture is a prime market in Africa, (but) everybody needs to have an Africa strategy,” he said.
Winde said other agri-processing initiatives that will receive more attention, going forward, is tapping into the halaal market by capturing a larger share of the global halaal market and increasing SA’s wine exports by looking at ways to export more bottles of wines.
Currently, South Africa exports 60% of its wine is bulk and only 40% in bottles. “It makes much more sense to export in the bottle,” Winde said. “We have to push ideas on how to swing it around.”
New tourism initiatives
In tourism, an estimated 14 new flights to Cape Town International Airport from key destinations in Africa and Europe, securing just under one million seats directly to Cape Town, is one of the initiatives of Project Khulisa, which will stimulate growth and create jobs in tourism.
“It just makes huge sense for business and tourism to have flights directly to Cape Town,” Winde said.
Other areas in tourism that will receive much needed attention is safety and security. Referring to an increase in attacks on hikers on Table Mountain and other popular trails, Winde, without deliberating too much, said the government will be launching a project within the next two months that will try and address safety and security ills on the mountains.
The oil and gas sector
Touching on the oil and gas sector, Winde said its sole focus is to expand and develop port infrastructure at Saldanha Bay, to transform it into a free port and rig repair hub that will ultimately create 60 000 jobs on the West Coast alone. He said four South African companies have already come on board, with four factories being built.
Commenting on tourism in the greater Stellenbosch and Helderberg areas, Winde applauded the organisations for the work they do to welcome tourists and encourage economic growth. “There is not one person in this town that is not involved in tourism one way or another, and therefore everyone plays a vital role. The economy is intertwined with tourism, agriculture and business.”
He said it is important to remember the tourism industry is dependent on basic principles. “Don’t forget the basics, being a friendly, clean, open town, providing a safe environment and service excellence,” the minister said.