R2-billion of investment into the Western Cape Tim Harris, CEO of Wesgro, reviews a successful year for business and investment in the Western Cape.
Wesgro CEO Tim Harris
BIOGRAPHY Tim Harris is Chief Executive Officer of Wesgro, the Western Cape’s official Destination Marketing, Investment and Trade Promotion Agency. Wesgro is more than 30 years old and remains the oldest organisation of its kind in the country. Prior to that appointment he was the Director of Trade and Investment in the Office of the Executive Mayor at the City of Cape Town and the Shadow Minister of Finance with Democratic Alliance in parliament. He was elected to Parliament aged 29. Harris has a Masters in Economics from UCT. WESTERN CAPE BUSINESS 2017
Please could you give an overview of Wesgro’s activities over the year?
In a difficult economic climate, Wesgro has performed very strongly over the past year. Our work always begins with economic insight and the Wesgro research team has helped deliver a much deeper understanding of economic opportunities in the Western Cape, publishing 115 research pieces over the past year. For example, there has been huge interest in markets such as Angola, and our report on food and beverage opportunities in Anglo was downloaded more than 1 500 times. So the research team continues to give us the hard numbers we need to make the case for business in the Western Cape. The new Wesgro website (www.wesgro.co.za) was launched late in 2016 with a much more interactive approach to data and business intelligence. It will enable business in the Western Cape to be more informed and able to realise opportunities quickly because of the work that our economists are doing. We developed online dashboards for Tourism and for Air Access, both of which are part of the Province’s Project Khulisa initiative. On the trade side, we were helped by the weakening of the rand, and we trained more than 500 companies in export readiness, helping them to build their capacity to export. We also took hundreds of companies to market to help grow their global sales. For the first time this year we really engaged with the new mandate that the Minister gave us to help drive outward investments into the rest of Africa, so we are now also helping Western Cape companies to establish operations in Africa. On the investment side, we surpassed the R2-billion mark in terms of investment landed in the Western Cape. Our biggest investment was a R1.189-billion renewable energy project from Spanish-based Acciona in the rural area of Gouda, which we worked on with GreenCape. Overall, the investment we facilitated created 681 jobs, and the agri-team in particular landed three deals including an abalone-farming facility in Doringbaai and the world’s first commercial fly farm in Philippi, so there was a strong performance