The emerging markets of South and Latin America, South Asia, and Africa are critical to global growth and sustainable development. These markets are seen by economists and supra-governmental organisations as sources of emerging middle-class markets with which to trade – not just in the traditional sectors of resource and mineral extraction and exports, manufacturing and agriculture, but also in the emerging knowledge and creative society, which is driven by innovation and intellectual capital.
The greatest impact will be in those sectors, best illustrated in Africa, where technology-enabled automation continues to replace the need for human resource capital. It is also widely acknowledged that knowledge-based industrial development and innovation will give rise to new sectors of industry, healthcare and technology – and with these the associated job creation and opportunity for sustainable growth for corporations, institutions, associations and destinations.
These sectors of innovation include biotech, high-tech, fintech, pharma and precision manufacturing. In Africa, tourism is also viewed as transformative.
In order for Cape Town and the Western Cape to secure improved access to globally sourced knowledge, continuous adult learning and markets, the Joint Meetings Industry Council (the global business and professional meetings and events industry organisation) has invited the UNWTO to advance Africa’s connectivity through the accelerated development of African chapters of international associations, as well as the development of national and regional associations. This is possible through the wide spectrum of intellectually based sectors and clusters of an industry that can provide education, knowledge transfer and engagement through the hosting of the international congresses and conventions.
Through the legacy of conferences and events, Cape Town and the Western Cape have sourced direct and indirect jobs and inward investment in sectors such as tourism, where the infrastructure investment costs are relatively low and the product is good. Nevertheless, radical steps to participate in emerging sectors of industry underpinned by education, research and development must be made if history is to avoid repeating itself. Business tourism alone will not resuscitate economic development or diversification.
Knowledge-based communities – industry associations – are the key foundation to Cape Town’s ability to connect and compete in the knowledge economy. If we can bridge the association divide, we have the ability with which to maintain the continent’s global connectivity and competition.
This is important because international associations want to understand their contribution, as expressed by the density of knowledge and development of the industry sector they drive.