ECONOMY

Working together

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Opportunity spoke to Andrew Boraine, CEO of the Western Cape Economic Development Partnership, about the economic future of Cape Town and the province.

Educating leaders to be more collaborative. That, says Andrew Boraine, chief executive of the Western Cape Economic Development Partnership (EDP), is among the key challenges facing Cape Town, and the province’s economy.

He says as a collaborative, intermediary organisation, the EDP’s job is “to bring people together to work co-operatively and collaboratively on the economy”.

The EDP, he explains, operates only in Cape Town and the Western Cape and there are no equivalent organisations in other parts of the country.

“However, we do work with partner organisations in Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape and we work with national government departments, too. So in a sense, we do transcend boundaries, and that’s one of our objectives.”

Seed capital

The organisation receives seed capital from, primarily, the Western Cape Provincial Government, but also the City of Cape Town and other municipalities in the Western Cape as well as some national government departments.

“National Treasury gave us some money to start up and we are currently negotiating various funding contracts with other departments at national level, so we get money from the public sector – but it’s not just from one source but from multiple sources, depending on what we are focusing on,” Boraine explains.

The EDP, he says, is heavily involved in leadership development in various spheres. “A lot of leaders in our country operate from a kind of command and control model that says, ‘I’m elected and I’m the big guy and you will do what I say’ and that doesn’t work very well if you want to influence markets. Markets vanish, they evaporate, they go away because investors don’t like that command and control language,” says Boraine.

Polarising

Turning to last year’s farm strikes, he says: “They were very polarising, which was devastating to the future of the agricultural sector because there was no certainty. We had to understand the causes of the strike, and these include the fact that in the last decade, 100 000 farm workers have lost their jobs through mechanisation and the through consolidation of farms. The big guys are buying out the small guys and then farm workers are put off the farm, so it’s a grave social problem.”

He says from a labour prospective, “if 100 000 of your colleagues have lost their job and you’re sitting destitute and you know the future is bleak because you have no formal education and you’ve got no skills to get into tourism or manufacturing or something else in the rural areas, you’re stuffed.

“Quite a few farmers have sold up and are now farming in Mozambique or Tanzania or Zambia. They also faced a bleak future, so what we try and help people understand is that if you face the future together, there’s a bit more of a chance that you will succeed.”

Moving toward knowledge

He says the Western Cape is no longer a manufacturing economy or a mining economy, but a services economy. “We are also moving more and more toward a knowledge economy, with innovation playing an important role.”

The EDP’s role, he says, is to bring different sectors of the economy together and create a better climate for them to do their jobs. “We don’t do innovation and we don’t do agriculture. But in the EDP we have the expertise to help people in those sectors to find each other.”

He says the EDP is only as strong as its partners, “so we want strong partners. We want partners in the public sector, private sector, community sector and university sector, and we want them to do their job well. We don’t take over their job, but we can help them get the basics in place”.

“I also think we’re making huge progress in a relatively short space of time with bringing everyone together around innovation.

“We’ve got a World Design Capital project, which is called The Partnership Exchange, which is really where we demonstrate the methodology and practice of partnering to all the other World Design projects. There are 470 of them, so these are quite short-term things and we call them proof of concept projects, showing people that partnering is a better way to go than blind or unhealthy competition.”

In a highly charged, highly divided society, collaboration can fail more often than not, he says, “so sometimes we set ourselves up for failure”.

He says one of the biggest challenges the province faces is moving from vision to action. “We’ve got great visions, we’ve got a plan, we’ve got strategies and we have budgeting processes. But we struggle to implement things, and I think one of the problems is that when government tries to implement everything on its own, it doesn’t have the capacity.”

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