Residents, business must help grow Bay

Time to realise metro’s great potential, speakers at MyCityTalk agree

Nelson Mandela Bay. File picture
Nelson Mandela Bay. File picture
Image: Eugene Coetzee

The support of every resident and institution in Nelson Mandela Bay is needed to attract investment and secure the city’s place in the export market.

This was the consensus of speakers at the annual MyCityTalk business expo, hosted by St Francis Hospice yesterday at the Feather Market Centre in Port Elizabeth.

Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber chief executive Nomkhita Mona said the community would need to play its role in realising the city’s potential for growth.

“I like what is happening in the Bay,” Mona said.

“We have great potential, but we have been sitting on it for too long. It is time we do something about it.

“It is not up to government or business; it is up to each of us. We need to stop outsourcing everything to the people in power.”

Mona said some of the key industries to grow the city would include automotive, light manufacturing and agroprocessing, but emphasised the importance of developing the city’s tourism sector.

“We have a lot to give, but we need to change our mindsets. We need new investment, because what we have is not enough and is not growing.”

Elilox Group managing director Dr Bridgette Gasa said domestic investment would be crucial to boosting business confidence, referring to the success of countries such as Ghana and Senegal.

“We need new money, but we’ve been pedantic about where the new money comes from,” Gasa said.

“These countries have quite comfortably reached levels of about 6.8% growth, because they are able to consistently focus on driving domestic investment and demand. When people are confident enough to invest domestically, they rally other people to do the same.”

On foreign investment, Gasa urged special economic zones such as Coega to ensure the local labour force would benefit.

“There needs to be a more stringent role for how local people benefit,” she said.

“We are not focusing enough on youth unemployment and unemployment as a whole.

“We [also] need to be thinking fast and hard about how to arrest the outward migration [of the province’s graduates], so we can guarantee that they stay and continue to contribute [to the city’s economy].”

The municipal executive director for economic development, agriculture and tourism, Anele Qaba, said the city’s skillbase was one of its greatest advantages for export.

“One of our best exports is skills. Services [can be exported] globally without physically crossing any [borders].”

He emphasised the need for tourism development.

“We need to see the waterfront come to fruition, see the Mandela statue go up and get Bayworld revived. We must continue to engage to ensure tourism production is brought out,” he said.