Garden Route Investment Conference: Official Conference Statement

A full house at the Garden Route Investment Conference which was held on 7 and 8 March 2018

Conceived and driven by the Executive Office of the Eden District Municipality, a very successful and robust Garden Route Investment Conference was convened at the beautiful Oubaai Resort in George.

In his address, The Executive Mayor of the District, Mr Memory Booysen was unambiguous about Eden or the Garden Route being open for business through active engagement with the private sector, SMME’s and emerging entrepreneurs, and in particular previously disadvantaged individuals and enterprises.

At the centre of this conference is the message that the Garden Route District wants to grow the Region’s economy in collaboration with the private sector (domestic and foreign) and all Municipalities in the District, as well as National and Provincial Government and State Owned Companies, in the pursuit of:

  • Job Creation and Training
  • Business and Skills Retention
  • Increasing Quality of Life
  • Industry Diversification
  • Empowerment
  • Food Security
  • Adequate and diverse housing solutions
  • Integrated and modern Transportation
  • Sustainable Infrastructure and Natural Resource Management
  • Protecting and enhancing our environmental and cultural heritage

The objectives of the Conference were to pursue business development and foster relations with prospective investors and partners and to ensure that measures are being developed for smooth and efficient planning processes, which would contribute to generating investment outcomes through ease of doing business, investment readiness, etc. With the active participation of the various municipalities, through showcasing their various opportunities and projects, the Conference created a comprehensive and cohesive picture of the economic growth prospects.

Business Sweden’s Mr Staffan Arbring pens down Business Sweden’s commitment to future collaboration and investment with the District and its 7 B-Municipalities

An average of 300 people attended the conference over the two days. Emerging entrepreneurs, small businesses and established businesses constituted about 65% of delegates. A total of thirty scheduled meetings were facilitated by Eden District Municipality between local businesses and national and international investors. A consequence of this is that there is currently significant progress towards concluding business agreements between local businesses, SMME’s and one of the Chinese delegations.

Conference was presented with robust and varied global and national economic perspectives affording us a glimpse into the complexity of the global economy and its impacts as well as where we should cast our eye for new opportunities and alliances. It also impressed on how critical stimulus strategies are for economic growth.

During the various stimulating and sometimes heated sector stream meetings, some of the key strategic issues raised were:

  • Access to land, finance and funding
  • The need for more streamlined and efficient decision-making
  • Managing Red Tape
  • The need for institutionalised dialogue between Government and the Private Sector. And where relevant, labor.
  • Developing clarity or better understanding for Public Private Partnerships, especially in the delivery of human settlements and bigger real estate developments.
  • Modernising and optimizing Infrastructure
  • Regarding Red Tape issues, the District and B-Municipalities pledged unequivocally to reduce red-tape, without compromising the guidelines in the Municipal Finance and Management Acts and have One-Stop Centres for Business.
  • Conference highlighted how imperative it is to support SMME’s and emerging farmers with access to funding and finance.
  • The need to develop coherent Regional Coordination would be valuable in identifying new markets and grow export strategies and opportunities.
  • Critical game changing opportunities in the agriculture sector – honey bush tea, essential oils and berries.

Eden DM Executive Mayor, Cllr Memory Booysen (middle), with the Chinese delegation lead by Mr Hongbin Cheng (second from left). Also pictured is Mr Paul Hoffman (SCEP).

From the infrastructure stream it emerged that there is a need for:

  • A comprehensive Infrastructure Plan
  • A District Infrastructure Chamber allowing for dialogue and critical engagements between Government and the Private Sector;
  • The idea for a District Development Agency or Garden Route

Most importantly, the Municipal Manager, Mr Monde Stratu called for the development of a Regional Growth Strategy in line with the Millennium Development Goals and the National Development Plan. This call was welcomed, by Conference delegates.
Many of all the other important issues highlighted during the two days will be made available to all delegates in the very near future through a complete conference report.

Eden DM and partners ready for the Garden Route Investment Conference

During a press conference held on 28 February 2018 at Eden District Municipality (Eden DM), the Eden DM Executive Mayor, Cllr Memory Booysen, confirmed the readiness of Eden DM and partners to engage with South African and international investors at the upcoming Garden Route Investment Conference which will be held on 7 and 8 March 2018 at Oubaai Hotel Golf & Spa, Herold’s Bay. More than 45 potential investment opportunities will be presented to investors during the conference, which could amount to millions of Rands in income, a range of new jobs and a sustainable economic environment.

During the Press Conference, (fltr): Ms Melanie Wilson, Manager: Economic Development and Tourism, Mr Lusanda Menze, Executive Manager: Economic Development and Planning, Ald Memory Booysen, Executive Mayor, Mr Monde Stratu, Municipal Manager and Mr Paul Hoffman, Programme Manager of South Cape Economic Partnership, during the press conference.

The arrangements of the Investment Conference which has been themed “Vukuzenzela – Creating opportunity in a Global Uncertainty” is currently in its final stage, while investors are already entering the Garden Route to explore various attractions and scenic experiences.
Mayor Booysen explained the intention of the initiative, when he said: “We want this Conference to be a district Conference where we want to give an opportunity to Municipalities within the Eden district to showcase the potential economic investment opportunities of their municipal jurisdictions. We also want investors to zoom in on specific projects which these municipalities are capable of offering,” Mayor Booysen added.

International delegations, such as the South African ambassador to the Maldives, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, Ms Ruby Marks, the Trade Commissioner, Business Sweden, and two groups of Chinese Business delegations, are expected to attend the event.

Investment Opportunities within the following sectors, will be presented and might evolve to possible investments and partnerships: Agri Processing, Aviation, Education and Training, Finance, Business Services and Real Estate, ICT, Light Manufacturing, Oil, Gas and Energy, Timber Economy, Tourism, Waste Beneficiation and Clean Energy.

In sharing Eden DM’s personal interest in the Waste Beneficiation and Clean Energy sector, Mayor Booysen said that Eden DM plans to conduct one-on-one engagements with potential investors specifically due to Eden DM’s plan in erecting a Regional Landfill Site that will be situated adjacent to PetroSA in Mossel Bay. Mayor Booysen further explained: “We have acquired the land to put up landfill site, but our approach will be different to others because we are planning to convert waste to bio-renewable energy” and added, “The 1st phase will be the landfill site, but any other phase thereafter should be aligned with renewable energy technologies, which will be consistently cheaper than energy derived from fossil fuels”.

Mayor Booysen also touched on the participation of Small Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs) at the Conference and said that our plan is to launch an Export Development Programme to empower SMMEs and give them the necessary understanding of the importing and exporting environment. This programme will continue after the conference.

Boosting the words of Mayor Booysen, Eden DM Municipal Manager, Mr Monde Stratu said: “Our timing seems to have been very good. We have been very encouraged by the recent changes that happened” and echoed the words of the President of the Republic of South Africa, Honourable Cyril Ramaphosa, when he said that “South Africa is open for business,” also meaning that the “Garden Route is open for business”.

The press conference was facilitated by Mr Lusanda Menze, Executive Manager for Economic Development and Planning and also attended by Ms Melanie Wilson, Eden DM’s Manager for Economic Development and Tourism, Mr Simphiwe Dladla, Manager in the Office of the Executive Mayor and Mr Paul Hoffman, Programme Manager of the South Cape Economic Partnership.

Eden DM engaging with B-Municipalities to prepare for the Garden Route Investment Conference

Engagements with Municipalities in the Eden district is currently underway. The purpose of these sessions is to ensure that all Municipalities are ready for the upcoming Investment Conference and at the same time, to strengthen relations with the B-municipalities in the Eden district.

The first session took place in Hessequa on Wednesday, 23 January 2018 and soon after the Kannaland session followed.

The Eden DM and Hessequa delegations during the 1st session held in Riversdale.

During these sessions the Executive Mayor of Eden District Municipality (Eden DM), Cllr Memory Booysen, emphasised his willingness to strengthen relations with the B-Municipalities. “Not only formal structures such as forums should be used to discuss matters of mutual interest. We should be open for assistance at any given time as the need arises,” Mayor Booysen said at the engagement in Hessequa. Mayor Booysen also gave an update of the name change process of Eden DM and also explained how the name change will be of benefit to the identity of the district.

At the session in Kannaland, Executive Mayor of Kannaland Municipality, Cllr Magdalene Barry, welcomed the willingness of the Eden delegation to meet with Kannaland and commended the team for their efforts to enhance the economy of the district, with reference to the Skills Summit and Investment Conference. The Kannaland delegation made sure that they fully inform the Eden DM delegation of the lack of capacity and resources that the municipality is currently confronted with, but at the same time Mayor Barry praised the Kannaland officials for what they have achieved in such a short period of time, especially with reference to their Eskom bill that was recently fully settled.

Furthermore Mayor Booysen requests municipalities to ensure that when they attend the Conference, they be fully prepared with their product offerings. “We will require all municipalities to provide information on what their area can offer to investors by showcasing specific offerings.”

Eden DM Mayor, Cllr Memory Booysen (left) and Executive Mayor of Kannaland, Cllr Magdalene Barry during the session held in Ladismith.

The sessions will be finalised during the second week of February.