Rethinking Regional Development in the Western Cape

Greg Clark, Phillip Dexter and Susan Parnell
PDF, 2007

A new approach to regional development, which is centred on the countries' main city-regions, is being proposed by government as a key strategy to achieve South Africa's ambitions for accelerated and sustained growth. Within the national spatial development perspective the Greater Cape Town Functional Region emerges as a city region of national economic significance, with potential to play significant international roles for the country as a whole. This document's purpose is to make clear why a regional approach is necessary in the 21st century, how it is different from earlier regional strategies, and what it might entail to implement in the Western Cape generally and for the Cape Town Functional Region specifically.

The advantages of adopting a city regional focus are likely to be felt both within and beyond greater Cape Town.

  • Positioning even the most important African city-regions into the global economy is not easy. Secondary city regions, like Cape Town, will grow their international position and increase their market share of global production, distribution and consumption not by claiming global city status, but by making sure they function optimally and that they develop their distinctive economic niches.
  • The national objective of accelerated growth and the imperative of reconstruction demands that the Cape Town city region mobilize economic growth in the 8% range if the country is to meet the 2014 targets of a 6% increase in GDP. The chance of reaching 8% economic growth by 2010 is greater if the regional stakeholders work together and not in isolation.
  • Locally, natural and fiscal resource constraints and political fluidity mean cooperative and strategic regional collaboration is an essential part of a good governance agenda. The fact that the Cape Town is so dominant, demographically and economically, compounds the imperative to embrace a city regional approach to development.
  • A regional approach would be especially useful in the Western Cape, and this has to do with the fluid, and sometimes volatile, nature of politics in the region.
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