Blueprint executive summary


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Executive Summary of the Blueprint for the Economic Development of Durban

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Blueprint executive summary

  1. 1. A BUSINESS VISION FOR THE ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT OF DURBAN EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Local Economic Development is about competitiveness – it is about companies thriving in competitive markets and locations thriving in a competitive, globalised world. (Meyer-Stamer) June 2013
  2. 2. Economic development is arguably better understood by the private rather than the public sector. The reason is clear: the private sector harbours businesses which are the engines for economic growth. The public sector, while contributing significantly to the economy itself, has the role of ensuring that the environment is conducive to Business development. Therefore, the strategic discourse by which the most appropriate plans can be adopted requires both the public and private sectors to contribute according to their respective roles; the public sector to set out how it can create a better Business environment, and the private sector to determine how this environment may be used as the fertile ground for economic growth. A sound strategy cannot separate one from the other and their interdependence is the very reason that any strategy needs to reflect strong co-operation and collaboration throughout the process of formulation. The best ambassadors in the promotion of an investment destination are Business people who are able to testify to the hospitability, or otherwise, of the City. In particular, the costs of investing are critical, while a concerted investment strategy is also required. This should take careful account of the fact that investment from within, that is the growth of existing and established businesses, is no less important than the attraction of foreign investment. The continuous implementation of Business retention and expansion strategies is considered essential, while every effort needs to be made to promote clustering, which is recognised as an effective means of accelerating economic growth. The rapid pace of migration into the City requires, among other foci, a particular responsiveness within manufacturing where jobs must be preserved and even created. It is trite to suggest that the private sector must do more to create jobs in order to give relief in a sphere where the country is so severely under threat, not least because of the proportionately high number of younger people who cannot find employment (70,66% of the unemployed population of South Africa is younger than 35 years old1). The importance of meaningful occupation, even without significant remuneration, is highlighted, while the City must ensure that pro-active measures are taken to assist those who are jobless. Sustainable job creation will result from Business and economic growth, and not simply from the exercise of intent, although Business people identify many disincentives when it comes to employment. While these reflect the perceived rigidity inherent in labour legislation and the pre-eminence of unions within the labour market framework, the shortage of appropriate skills among those 1 Stats SA. 2013. Quarterly Labour Force Survey, Quarter 1, 2013.
  3. 3. seeking employment remains an acute problem. Particular attention given recently to the advancement of the maritime sector in Durban, presents opportunities for the development of skills which have real value in the local economic context. In order to ensure the best outcome, Business and academic institutions, especially the universities, must seek to derive optimal mutual benefit from ongoing engagement. Experiential learning is the best means for the acquisition of technical skills and there is a critical part for businesses to play in providing internships and apprenticeships. At the same time, entrepreneurial activity, especially among young people, needs stimulation. Notwithstanding the inadequacy of national policies and strategies as regards the development of the SMME sector, the City must make this a priority by building on the work done by the Business Support unit of the Municipality and, ideally, introducing a strategic plan for the particular growth of small industry. Among the most daunting challenges facing the City is that of ensuring that infrastructure becomes the facilitation partner to development, but in such a way that the costs are not prohibitive, either to the Municipality, or developers. Delays in the implementation of developments, or the requisite infrastructure, must be reduced significantly to minimise costs and encourage investment. So-called ‘catalytic projects’, which are those offering the best economic yields in terms of growth, must be expedited by accelerated procedures. The Dube Trade Port and the conceived aerotropolis, together with the dig-out port and the Municipality’s back-of-port local area plan, require particular attention as stimulators of economic growth. The eThekwini Municipality has earned notable recognition for projects which have aligned the City with contemporary expectations relating to the protection of the environment in the interests of sustainability. With the greater co-operation of the private sector and some greater intensity, the City could achieve iconic status in this regard. In the sphere of tourism, a similar aspiration is desirable. While there is reason to be encouraged by the major events which have been staged very successfully in the City, the number of international visitors for leisure and other purposes is disappointing. The City needs to revise its image of itself in order to dispel negative impressions of apathy, social divisiveness and laissez faire. The attractive elements of a ‘laid back’ lifestyle must be complemented by a dynamic vibrancy which caters equally for movers and shakers and fun-seekers. Among other corrective actions, special attention must be given to the inner City and the urgent necessity for rejuvenation. Partnership with property owners through the mechanism of Special Rating Areas (or Urban Improvement Precincts) requires encouragement, for this is a means
  4. 4. whereby municipal services may be augmented with the objective of enhancing property values. It is necessary to dispel the perception that development in the northern part of the City has shifted its heart; it has created a new development node which should not detract from the appeal of the traditional CBD. Much of the appeal has been lost, not directly because of development elsewhere, but because of neglect and increased crime and grime. Increasingly, the City exhibits a character of non- compliance and poor enforcement. The Chamber’s vision of the City which it serves, and has done for a century and a half, includes international recognition by tourists and investors; a citizenry active in its contribution to the life of a residential and Business location of choice; smart, efficient and green ways of doing things; a vibrant and developing Business community and, above all, such economic growth that may be distributed to provide jobs, improve social cohesion and uplift the poor.