CBN caught up with Nils Flaatten, CEO of Wesgro – the official Tourism, Trade and Investment Promotion agency for Cape Town and the Western Cape. Flaatten was keen to expand on the areas Wesgro is currently focusing on, including promoting export opportunities, especially into the rest of the African continent, and encouraging businesses, both local and international, to use the province as their headquarters.
Flaatten said that Wesgro’s main goal for the rest of the year is to grow Cape Town’s exporting opportunities within Africa.
“Cape Town is strategically placed for doing business on the West Coast of Africa,” he said. “We at Wesgro have been talking about this for quite some time and I would like more companies to ask the questions: Should we be exporting? Can we be exporting? And if so, should we be looking at Africa?”
Flaatten believes that in 25 years’ time, the Western Cape’s economy level (both on a national and provincial level) is going to be linked to what we do with the rest of the continent.
“I’d like to see us create that interest and achieve the success of exporting both goods and services throughout Africa. I’d also like to see a transformation in the provincial economy with more head offices set up in the Cape. I also feel that an increase of direct flights into Cape Town – from the global North, South America and Africa – is important for us to get more connectivity for the continent.”
Flaatten said that the Western Cape’s buyers and investors have been interested mainly in the province’s production capacity, skills and the size of its marketing opportunities.
Wesgro has recently succeeded in setting up the Saldanha Bay IDZ Licensing Company. “Now the key focus is to get the master plan finalised and begin construction onsite. There is a good balance – almost a 50/50 balance – between international and domestic companies that will have their sites within the IDZ.”
“Wesgro’s key tasks are to attract tourists to the Western Cape, to promote exports from the province and to attract both foreign and domestic investments into the region,” Flaatten explains.
“We are very nimble, very connected and have driven a strong “know-your-client” process within the agency. When you look at the business community in the Western Cape, it is quite a stratified group of people,” Flaatten said, referring to the listed, unlisted and SME businesses populating the province. “We know these businesses; what they do and what they need and are thus able to hook and bring in opportunities for them.”
To achieve this, Wesgro’s frontline units are arranged in the following categories:
- A research section dedicated to collecting and displaying data – such as country briefs, sector briefs, trade numbers, FDI numbers, growth sectors, etc – onto the website for easy access.
- A trade promotion team. Under this team there is a film unit whose responsibility is film destination marketing for the province.
- A Destination Marketing Unit who works with the six regions throughout the Western Cape promote Cape Town and the Western Cape as a premier leisure, events and business tourism destination both to local and international markets.
- An investment promotion team made up of two groups
- Business retention and expansion – This group deals with encouraging people who have already invested in the city, to invest further and grow their businesses.
- AIU (Agribusiness investment unit – which is funded by the Western Cape Department of Agriculture. Which looks at the value-chain within the agriculture sector.
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