Grape prices at farm level, such as this one in Franschhoek, Western Cape, are expected to trend upwards. Picture: Tiso
Grape prices at farm level, such as this one in Franschhoek, Western Cape, are expected to trend upwards. Picture: Tiso

The Western Cape’s agribusiness sector looks set for growth in the coming years with the province’s trade and investment promotion agency announcing that it has landed committed investments in the sector amounting to R756m.

This is expected to create more than  1,400 jobs over the next five years, according to Wesgro’s annual review for the 2017/18 financial year. 

Wesgro is the province’s trade and investment promotion agency. US- founded Cape Town headquartered Marathon Restaurant Group, recently invested R300m in developing Pizza Hut, fast-casual restaurants in the Western Cape, creating 700 jobs.

The agribusiness sector is one of the most important components of the Western Cape economy. It lies at the heart of the region’s ability to drive economic development, contributing billions to the regional GDP, says Wesgro.  The region exports 70% of all South African beverages and spirits, and 96% of its wine.

Factoring various other investment commitments in key sectors of the local economy, Wesgro said Cape  Town and the Western Cape’s economy is expected to receive at least a R10,25bn boost over the next five years, helping create more than 7,900 full time  and part time jobs during the period.

During the past financial year Wesgro’s International Trade Promotion Unit facilitated the signing of 53 business agreements with an estimated economic value of R2.83bn over the next five years, and is expected to create 679 jobs.

The Western Cape’s air-access strategy to create direct links with other countries is also beginning to bear fruit. The provincial economic development & tourism department developed the strategy in partnership with Wesgro, the city and Airports Company SA.

“In just three years, this initiative has helped land 13 new routes and 18  route expansions, adding an additional 750,000 inbound seats to Cape Town International  Airport. These additional passengers have spent an estimated R6bn in the Cape  economy. During the financial year in review, the economic impact of  the project is estimated to be R2bn,” Wesgro said in its annual review.

Economic opportunities MEC Beverley Schafer said: “A few weeks ago, Wesgro launched its campaign aimed at the international investor  market, with the tagline ‘a place of more’. These numbers for the 2017/18 year show that we are indeed a place of more — more jobs, more investment and more opportunities to grow the economy.”

However, Wesgro bemoaned the severe drought which hit the province during the year under review, saying it had had serious negative effect on tourism sector.  The tourism sector is key for the Western Cape economy and the province is widely regarded as SA’s most attractive tourism destination . The sector contributes about 9% to SA’s GDP. The National Development Plan has earmarked tourism as one of the main drivers of economic growth and employment.

Wesgro CEO Tim Harris said the agency had launched a campaign to try to boost the sector.

“At the beginning of September #ItsAllStillHere  tourism campaign was launched. Consisting of three short, shareable videos it profiles the Cape’s top surfing talent, natural beauty, and world-class surf  conditions. The campaign acknowledges that although our region has suffered its  worst drought in history, we have got through the crisis and our extraordinary destination  is ‘all still here’”.

phakathib@businesslive.co.za

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