“When people ask us what we do, we tell them: ‘our business is partnerships,’” says Andrew Boraine, Acting CEO of the Western Cape Economic Development Partnership (EDP).
Speaking at the fourth EDP Members Forum, held at the Cape Town International Convention Centre on Tuesday 16 April, Boraine continues: “In order to build a more inclusive, resilient and competitive regional economy in practice, we have to get from visions and frameworks to action and implementation. We need to move beyond the curse of short-termism: those policies and projects that in the end do not contribute meaningfully to long-term change.”
With the event commemorating one year of the EDP in operation, Boraine noted that “as a young organisation, we have in part focused on building the partnership over the past year: recruiting member organisations and partners across the quad helix of the public, private, knowledge and civil sectors; the appointment of a board and staff; establishing potential funders and projects; and putting operational systems together in order to activate our goal of transition management within the economy.”
With various socio-economic challenges having been identified via the OneCape 2040 economic transition framework, Boraine outlined the four programmes around which the EDP has begun to mobilise stakeholders and projects. “We are focusing on partnerships for employment, enterprise, investment and innovation. Think of it as E²I²,” says Boraine.
The employment and enterprise programmes have seen the EDP coordinate two applications to the Jobs Fund. The first of these would see a Community Works Schools Support Programme, worth R119 million, offer work opportunities to 10 000 young people over three years, while at the same time offering support services to over 400 of the province’s poorest schools.
The second application, worth R100m, has brought together the City of Cape Town, Western Cape Government’s Green Cape initiative and the Seda Atlantis Renewable Energy Business Incubator (SAREBI) in a reframing of the City’s Sustainable Livelihood project.
Explains Boraine: “The City’s original project saw approximately 240 insulated ceilings installed in RDP homes in Mamre during 2010. The current project and the partnerships established will not only see over 50 000 households in underserviced areas benefit, but create jobs and SME opportunities along every step of the value chain - including skills development and job creation - from the manufacture of materials to installation on site.”
Both projects are progressing through the Jobs Fund assessment process and are at various stages awaiting approval.
As part of its investment focus, the EDP has also been working on the development of Regional Economic Performance Indicators (Regional EDI) that will be used to measure the economic transition progress, and improve the business and investment climate as well as the performance of the regional economic delivery system. Says programme coordinator, Sandra Gordon: “What we are aiming to develop is a set of indicators that go beyond measuring GDP growth. To this end, we are looking at the new international trends towards indicators that measure not only a country’s growth but also how inclusive, sustainable and resilient growth really is.”
The EDP has also begun working on three spatial-focus partnerships in the West Coast, South Cape and the Cape Metropolitan functional region. Explains Boraine: “These spatial areas of focus are aimed at bringing together the stakeholders in each area to assist them in developing economic strategies appropriate to their locale, industries and resources, and its particular their specific employment challenges.”
The EDP is also involved in a number of special projects around leadership development and knowledge sharing, but perhaps its most important project to date has been the Future of Agriculture and the Rural Economy (FARE) process.
Through a Steering Committee co-chaired by Boraine with Philip Dexter of the Economic Development Forum, the FARE process has already brought together the major stakeholders in the agricultural sector, who have in turn been tasked to set up an independent panel that will take the process to the next step: an assessment of structural challenges facing the agriculture sector, a common agenda, and the identification of projects that can be implemented to affect change.
“FARE launches officially at Elsenburg near Stellenbosch on 26 April. Its aim is to go beyond the conflicts we have seen and the polarizing rhetoric that accompanied these conflicts, to social dialogue in action,’ says Boraine.
For more information on the EDP please: See the attached document Introduction to the Western Cape Economic Development Partnership, April 2013; and Contact Rabbit in a Hat to organise an interview with the EDP.