Between 2001 and 2010, the real economy of the Western Cape expanded by close to 45%, while the regional workforce only grew by 16%. Given the imperatives for national economic growth and job creation in South Africa, the EDP has subsequently been forged as a means of overcoming these challenges.
In 2012 the Western Cape Government approved the creation of a new regional Economic Development Partnership (EDP), a multi-sector partnership-based organisation that will lead and co-ordinate the entire region’s economic growth and inclusion agendas.
Launched in April 2012 before a diverse range of stakeholders, the EDP provides new channels to mobilise regional actors around the themes of economic inclusiveness and resilience. In Cape Town’s context, the EDP is a new category of institution, in that it is deliberatively collaborative and has clear cross-border legitimacy. It is provides an intermediary function, creating spaces for dialogue, experimentation, prototyping and innovation. There are six EDP membership categories: government (all three spheres), business, labour, civil society, knowledge-based institutions and local economic partnerships. The EDP has a verified membership base of 125 organisations which play a role in the regional economic development system. Members meet quarterly in a Members Forum and participate on EDP work groups and projects. The EDP promises an era where the Province and the City of Cape Town, together with other key stakeholders, prepare a unified approach towards firm attraction, events, higher education, investors and entrepreneurs (Cape Town Partnership, 2012a).
“Through the EDP, we will build a Western Cape that is a better place to invest, do business, get a job and earn a living, for everyone.”
(Alan Winde, the Western Cape Government’s Minister for Finance, Economic Development and Tourism)
What does the EDP do?
When the EDP was inaugurated in April 2012, Andrew Boraine, Chief Executive of the Cape Town Partnership, announced the EDP’s one-year activity plan, which included the following key points:
1. Mapping the regional economic delivery system
The EDP is charged with mapping the organisations and activities that make up the economic delivery system in the Western Cape, including catalytic projects, significant events and inbound/outbound visits. Through the utilisation of this information, better economic decisions can be made and more knowledge sharing opportunities will undoubtedly arise, combining to strengthen the economic delivery system.
2. OneCape 2040 (Previously known as FutureCape 2040)
The Western Cape Government mandated the EDP to undertake the development of OneCape 2040 (previously known as Future Cape 2040). OneCape is a long-term, forward looking, economic vision and plan for 2040, involving all key Western Cape economic leaders and citizens.
The EDP will be hosting a serious of discussions on the future of the region’s economy. The intention is to identify long-term regional challenges, as well as developing a plan to overcome these challenges which plans beyond existing institutional power, functions and boundaries. It aims to facilitate collaboration between regional stakeholders by creating a common agenda.
“….The EDP is the place where we will strive to create a common agenda from the often differing economic visions, strategies and plans.”
(Andrew Boraine, convenor of the EDP, and CEO of Cape Town Partnership)
3. Regional economic development learning network
The intention of this facet of the EDP’s activities, sponsored by National Treasury’s Technical Advisory Unit (TAU), was to establish a knowledge-sharing network between South Africa’s three largest economic regions, namely Gauteng, the Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal.
The Economies of Regions Learning Network (ERLN) has, subsequently, been established. The EDP has become part of the network, which acts as a think tank of national government departments, metropolitan governments and economic agencies. All stakeholders are involved either in the setting or implementation of the economic development agenda in South Africa’s major economic regions of Gauteng, the Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal.
The goals and objectives of the ERLN are:
- To create a space for policy makers and practitioners to engage and interact;
- To facilitate knowledge-sharing and ideas generation among the three cities and regions involved; and
- To build and develop the capacity of the organization involved to implement and support regional economic development initiatives.
4. Leadership development
The EDP has run a very successful executive programme on regional economic leadership in conjunction with University of Cape Town in November 2012.
Image credit : Photobank gallery