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Cape Town's digital central city heart

Cape Town's digital central city heart

Cape Town is acknowledged as Africa’s leading tech hub, with the city employing more people in the sector than anywhere else on the continent.

This is one of the key themes to emerge from the latest edition of The State of Cape Town Central City Report 2018 – A year in review (SCCR) an annual investment guide published for the seventh year in a row by the Cape Town Central City Improvement District (CCID).

In the foreword to the publication, Wesgro CEO, Tim Harris, notes: “Our city and province are leading the way. The Cape Town-Stellenbosch tech ecosystem employs more people than Lagos and Nairobi – our two major competitors in this sector – combined, making the Mother City Africa’s tech capital.”

As a whole, the metropole currently employs around 40 000 people in the tech sector – twice as many as Johannesburg at 20 000 and, as Harris notes, well beyond Lagos’s 9 000 and Nairobi’s 7 000.

Over the past decade, the province has also become a leader in mobile software, revenue management and payment processes, with 56% of emerging tech or tech-enabled companies having headquarters in the Western Cape – the majority based in Cape Town.

Adds Rob Kane, chairperson of the CCID: “Cape Town was also the only African city ranked on the Savills Global Tech Cities Index, which measures various aspects including the business environment, the tech environment, buzz and wellness, talent availability and real estate costs.

“Good broadband connectivity, co-working spaces, accessibility and quality of lifestyle are all important enablers for these index categories. When you examine how these enablers function in the Central City – Cape Town’s CBD, which has all of these – it becomes apparent why this sector is thriving in our live, work and play downtown.”

The CCID’s latest report supports this, identifying 17 co-working spaces in the CBD offering flexible, pay-as-you-go or short-term leases for office space, with shared services, communal spaces and the flexibility that many small businesses and individuals are looking for in their work environments.

“These spaces suit a digitally savvy population,” says Kane. “The co-working model is growing around the world, disrupting traditionally restrictive office leases. As a recognised digital city, Cape Town’s CBD is well placed to support this vibrant, new way of working.”

CCID CEO Tasso Evangelinos believes the current digital presence in the CBD is just the tip of the iceberg: “In October last year, Amazon announced that it was considering eight different locations in which to construct its new office complex. One of these is within the CBD’s own Foreshore precinct.”

Should this site materialise in the Central City, the complex could see an additional 10 000 people being employed in the CBD, in an area which recently benefited from the opening of another tech business   ̶  the JSE-listed education group Curro, which launched its tech-focused schooling model at its new campus in the Foreshore.

An initiative set to strengthen and grow the Central City’s digital hub, is the rollout of the City’s Connect Pilot Project. A follow-on from the City of Cape Town’s broadband project to provide a fully functional, municipal-owned fibre-optic network across the metropole by 2021, the Connect Pilot Project was launched in the CBD in 2018, with the aim to provide affordable open access high-speed fibre connectivity to over 1 000 commercial buildings in the Central City.  

The City also signed an agreement last year with cell phone operation Cell C, to provide public connectivity utilising streetlight poles, city buildings and public transport infrastructure.

Says Kane: “These kind of connectivity initiatives are important enablers, not only for businesses in the Central City, and particularly those that are tech-driven, but they will also facilitate better service delivery and expand economic opportunities for all those that visit or live in our downtown. They are part and parcel of a true digital city.”

Issued by Irvine Partners on behalf of Sharon Sorour-Morris, Communications Manager: Cape Town CCID


Sharon Sorour-Morris
Manager: Communications
Central City Improvement District
082 216 0835