If coastal cities like Durban and Cape Town, with their perfect ivory beaches, blue skies, sun and surfboards, are the chic playgrounds where South Africans go to let their hair down, then Gauteng in the country’s north-east plays an altogether more serious role as the country’s economic and political centre of gravity.
An industrial heartland, home to a vast majority of the country’s mining and heavy industry sector as well as mighty Johannesburg, Gauteng’s US$112 billion GDP generates 33% of the national GDP, and an astonishing 10% of the African continent’s total GDP. No less important, however, Gauteng is home to City of Tshwane Metropolitan Municipality (City of Tshwane) and the “Jacaranda City” of Pretoria – South Africa’s executive capital and political centre in which the country’s national government presides.
Stretching 120 km across and more than 100 km from its southern-most point to its northern tip, the City of Tshwane is the largest metropolitan municipality in South Africa, and surely the most diverse. Rolling green hills and quaint farmland juxtapose with the grand Jacaranda tree-lined streets, striking old-world architecture, and towering cityscape of Pretoria. This quite beautiful region has long been regarded as the jewel of the South African north, and a cultural hub that is regarded by the regional, national, and international business community as one of the most desirable areas in the country to do business.
The City of Tshwane has made great strides forward over the past decade in terms of development, both in delivering improved services and living standards to the 3 million people who call the region home, and in providing the first-rate infrastructure needed to show the international community what Pretoria really is – a bustling urban centre that is every inch a global city on the rise.
Executive Mayor of Tshwane, Cllr Solly Msimanga, says Tshwane is open for business. “With easy access via road and rail to the OR Tambo International and Wonderboom National Airports, a network of roads to neighbouring cities, and the Gautrain and BRT networks for easy commuting, doing business in Tshwane is much more than just being situated in the capital of South Africa.
And it is not only large enterprises – whether commercial, industry, or construction – that benefit; in prioritising the strategic national goals of job creation and sustainable growth, we continue to concentrate on the creation of growth-oriented SMMEs. We invite entrepreneurs and business people to explore the various established industrial areas available in Tshwane and capitalise on these opportunities and create centres of employment.”
From a bustling CBD to its serene office parks, the City of Tshwane offers opportunities for any size of business – from the all-important small, micro and medium enterprises (SMME) and entrepreneurs, to high-technology firms, global commercial operations, as well as light and heavy industry. With a solid foundation stretching back many decades, the City is a proven leader in education, research and technology, electronics and information technology, as well as defence, design and construction.
In an urbanised world where more than half the world’s population is concentrated in cities, it is more important than ever that the likes of Pretoria, Cape Town and Johannesburg step up to the plate. Cities are now the hubs around which the lion’s share of global GDP and innovation is generated. They provide the largest concentrations of customers for businesses wishing to sell goods and services, and act as a magnet for highly skilled and highly educated top industry talent who flock only to the global cities that they feel will provide them opportunity and fortune. For South Africa to succeed in realising its incredible potential, and rise to become a nation with genuine global power credentials, its cities must show both the business community, and indeed the world, that it has the means to meet their aspirations, and offer safety, sustainability, and well-being in an environment steeped with history and culture. Fortunately, these are attributes that the region possesses in abundance.
The cultural heritage of Tshwane, particularly in Pretoria where, following decades of turbulence and struggle, South Africa’s hard-won democracy was born at the city’s iconic Union Buildings, there is a great sense of pride that manifests itself in a commitment to empower its people and realise Nelson Mandela’s vision for a bright, inclusive society for all, regardless of race or creed.
Tshwane’s Executive Mayor, Cllr Solly Msimanga, says the City of Tshwane’s new focus is grounded by three key elements namely Stabilisation, Revitalisation and Delivery.
“The City’s new Integrated Development Plan and Medium-term Revenue Framework sets out our new vision and political priorities for the City. We can finally begin to roll out value-for-money capital projects meant to benefit our people and boost the economy of the city”.
“Being an African capital city will require us to do things differently and set a good example for other cities. Our IDP document presents our desired vision for 2030; that of a prosperous capital city through fairness, freedom and opportunity.”
The City’s strategic plan is to provide essential services and infrastructure, fight poverty and build clean, safe, and healthy communities, and facilitate the growth of Tshwane as a world-class finance and business hub.
The City of Tshwane’s commitment to becoming a “smart city” which creates sustained, balanced economic growth and a high quality of life for citizens by aligning, integrating and developing a common vision between industry, research institutes, universities, and local government, is in line with this aim. To help streamline the process, the City of Tshwane and the City of Oulu in Finland have entered into a twinning agreement to help Tshwane achieve smart city status.
Additionally, work on the Tshwane Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) Park is ongoing and is expected to be completed in February 2018.
Executive Mayor Msimanga: “This initiative is set to be a game changer in this space which will see Tshwane gaining first-mover advantage to other regions in accelerating industry growth, attracting private and public investment, facilitating job creation, skills development and infrastructure development. It is also set to position the city as the BPO location of choice for local and global BPO operators. The Tshwane BPO Park will provide a globally competitive facility to both the public and private sector. It is poised to become the centre of excellence for BPO/M in South Africa, providing a one-stop shop for all BPO needs. This park will be the first rural BPO park in South Africa.”
Tshwane is also a key manufacturer and assembler of passenger vehicles. According to the Automotive Industry Development Centre, the city produces 40% of South Africa’s automotive output. The recent expansion plans of BMW (R6 million) and Nissan’s increase of its units from 40,000 to 80,000 in their plants in Rosslyn bear testimony that this industrial hub is full of potential and opportunity.
High on the City’s development agenda is the establishment of the Tshwane Automotive City – a special economic zone where a chain of auto suppliers will be located. The programme is in partnership with the Automotive Industry Development Centre, the motor industry and the Gauteng Provincial Government.
With a future that shows every sign of being as rich as its past, the City of Tshwane is a region that is on the up, and a model of municipal success fit for the 21st century. There is little doubt that over the years to come, the region will increasingly catch the attention of the world for all the right reasons.