Today Wesgro – the official tourism, trade, investment, and film promotion agency for Cape Town and the Western Cape – held their Annual Review Showcase. Partners and stakeholders were in attendance including: Western Cape Government; City of Cape Town; Parliamentary Standing Committee, Members of the Board of Wesgro, Executive Committee as well as key private sector business stakeholders.
Opening proceedings Wesgro’s Board Chairman, Michael Spicer, welcomed the Agency’s new CEO and indicated that she brings not only a wealth of experience at the helm of large and complex organisations, but also heart and passion for the province she grew up in. Spicer took the lead to reflect on the exceptional performance of the Agency in the face of adversity caused by the global COVID-19 pandemic.
“Despite the plethora of challenges faced in the 2020/21 financial year, the Agency achieved an estimated economic impact of over R9,6bn and created 2 600 direct jobs,” said Spicer as he spotlighted successes across the mandates.
A powerful keynote address delivered by guest speaker Professor Thuli Madonsela followed, with Madonsela emphasising the importance of mining the duality of adversity in order to bring about meaningful and positive change.
Looking at what it means to ‘unlock a brave new world’ Madonsela emphasised the need for ethical leadership in this time of volatility within which the country finds itself, placing the African youth at the centre of the equation.
“We have inherited an unequal society, and this needs to be taken into account as we navigate the way forward,” said Madonsela. Heeding caution, she added: “Although we didn’t create the problems, we need to solve them, otherwise they will solve us’.
Speaking publicly for the first time as Wesgro CEO, Wrenelle Stander outlined her vision for the future, detailing her commitment to driving and facilitating investment into future-oriented and enabling sectors. Stander highlighted the importance of ensuring that the Western Cape is competitive in a greener and more sustainable global economy, with a vision of using Wesgro's levers of tourism, trade, investment and film promotion to unlock economic opportunities across the region.
Unpacking what it means to unlock opportunity in a new world, Stander commented:
“Tourism recovery needs to be front and centre of the City, Province and National dialogue and remains a critical pillar for the Western Cape Economy. I am truly proud to be part of the leadership team leading the Western Cape to being one of the world's leading regional economies”.
She went on to add her vision for Cape Town and the Western Cape to become:
- The Rotterdam of trade logistics into Africa
- The Bangalore of business process outsourcing efficiency
- The Silicon Valley of tech start-ups
- The London of financial services
- The Western Australia of Solar Energy
- The Spain of Citrus Exports
- The Boston of Health Tech
Echoing the collective sentiment for economic growth and job creation to sit at the core of rebuilding the local economy, Western Cape Minister of Finance and Economic Opportunities, David Maynier, said:
“We will be doubling down and doing everything we can to drive economic growth and job creation in the Western Cape. Looking forward, we will be focusing on five key priorities: ease of doing business, investment and export promotion, enterprise development, skills development and energy resilience. What makes us different is that we are “Open, for Business” and we back business in the Western Cape.”
In conclusion, Alderman James Vos, former Mayoral Committee Member for Economic Opportunities at the City of Cape Town commented: “Our approach as the City towards the economy is broad and sectoral. The City has been working hard to create an inclusive economic growth strategy, which looks to make the Mother City economy more accessible for a wide range of people and businesses.”