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Cape Town making major strides as a digital and innovation capital

Innovation - [https://extension.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/canstockphoto8172384.jpg] Innovation - [https://extension.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/canstockphoto8172384.jpg]

As part of the City’s trade and investment mandate, the City provides funding and support to sector bodies in order to catalyse growth and job creation in strategic sectors of the economy.

The City supports six special purpose vehicles or sector bodies which include the Cape Information Technology Initiative (Citi), Cape Town Fashion Council (CTFC), Clotex, Cape Craft and Design Institute (CCDI), GreenCape, and Business Process Enabling South Africa (BPeSA WC).

In addition to the six special purpose vehicles, the City supports Wesgro and the Western Cape Economic Development Partnership for trade and investment promotion, and building and supporting partnerships.

We provide funding and strategic support to these institutions. In return they facilitate domestic and foreign direct investment into the City, assist in developing skills, and facilitate in creating jobs with a specific focus on disadvantaged groups.

Since 2011 we have invested over R97,5m in Wesgro and these special purpose vehicles – collectively they have facilitated over R14,2bn in investments into Cape Town and created more than 28,200 direct jobs.

One of the most strategic sectors in our city is the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector.

Today I had the pleasure of visiting the Cape Innovation and Technology Initiative (Citi) based at the Bandwidth Barn in Woodstock.  They have a wide array of initiatives in place to support economic growth and job creation in Cape Town, with a strong bias towards transformation in the industry.

The facility is home to innovation clusters and hubs such as Barclays Rise, an acceleration centre for tech entrepreneurs working in financial technology. Cape Town was selected as the African capital for Barclays Rise, thereby making our city the fourth global site after New York, London and Manchester. This brought investment of about R15m into Cape Town.

Similarly, Thomson Reuters has also recently selected Cape Town to be the host of their African innovation lab, Thomson Reuters Labs™, beating the likes of Johannesburg and Nairobi. 

Earlier this year, the Bandwidth Barn in Khayelitsha commenced with the implementation of Citi’s enterprise development strategy after in-depth consultation with the local community in response to their digital needs. Currently 53 businesses are registered tenants on the premises.

The City of Cape Town has invested just over R10m in Citi since 2011 and some of this has been used to fund CapaCiti, a job-readiness programme. It was born out of the necessity to meet the ICT-related needs of industries such as insurance, asset management, and retail which were offshoring their software development skills outside of the region.

CapaCiti focuses on creating work and training opportunities for unemployed graduates and unemployed youth in particular.

Since its inception, this initiative has skilled more than 900 underprivileged youth from low-income areas such as Delft, Khayelitsha, Gugulethu and Mitchells Plain. These young people receive training in scarce IT skills; work experience via post-training and internships; soft skill training and basic living support (stipends); and ongoing support via the CapaCiti intern support group initiative. 

The programme has been a rousing success with a 96% placement rate, thereby providing real hope of employment for the graduates of this programme.

As part of its growing suite of skills solutions, Citi has also just launched The Hub @Media24, in partnership with publisher Media24, to develop a new generation of skilled coders for the media company.

I was fortunate to meet the latest cohort of trainees today and I was moved by their confidence and optimism. They spoke to me about what this opportunity means to them. There is the overwhelming consensus that they feel better equipped to start their careers.

As an opportunity city, we see the value that programmes such as CapaCiti adds to the lives of our residents. We understand that young people yearn for a chance to be empowered to stand on their own feet, so that they can assist us in making this great city even greater. 

Our funding of special purpose vehicles is one way through which we are making this kind of progress possible together.

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