Economic development is arguably better understood by the private rather than the public sector. The reason is clear: the private sector harbours businesses which are the engines for economic growth. The public sector, while contributing significantly to the economy itself, has the role of ensuring that the environment is conducive to Business development. Therefore, the strategic discourse by which the most appropriate plans can be adopted requires both the public and private sectors to contribute according to their respective roles; the public sector to set out how it can create a better Business environment, and the private sector to determine how this environment may be used as the fertile ground for economic growth. A sound strategy cannot separate one from the other and their interdependence is the very reason that any strategy needs to reflect strong co-operation and collaboration throughout the process of formulation.
The Durban Chamber embarked on this initiative for two main reasons. Firstly, it wished to challenge the Business community in eThekwini, which the Chamber represents, to apply its collective mind to what is required in the City if local economic development of a satisfactory nature is to occur over the next decade or more. Keeping pace with the economic development of the country as a whole is considered less than satisfactory because the City, its Municipality and the private sector, must identify and nurture those things that lie here and have the ability to set the City apart and ensure that it fares better than the country as a whole.
Secondly, the Chamber itself felt that the definition of a vision for economic development would chart its own journey into the future as an important stakeholder in the City’s economic growth. This vision, therefore, must direct the Chamber’s strategy in the years ahead as it seeks to enhance its relevance in the context of local economic growth.
Since local economic growth is a simple concept at heart, despite the fact that it is complicated by a plethora of definitions and various opinions as to how it is to be achieved, there is little in this vision that may be considered “new”. Indeed, many of the aspects of the vision are already part and parcel of the City’s planning and execution. A great deal of what is thought to be fundamental has been, or is being, done. Some things might need to be done better or, particularly, with greater urgency. The pervasive weakness, however, is the lack of real synergy between the public and private sectors and their inability to work together unceasingly to achieve a common goal.
The Chamber’s Business Vision outlines 10 goals to encourage economic growth and development in our city, and identifies requisite interventions. The goals include:
- Increased investment in the city’s economy;
- Institutional partnerships and collaboration;
- The creation of meaningful employment;
- The alignment of skills development and education to the requirements of economic growth and job creation in the city;
- The promotion and development of a vibrant small business sector and sustainable enterprises within it;
- The provision and maintenance of adequate infrastructure;
- Building an iconic reputation as a green city
- The achievement of ‘international destination’ status for leisure, business and other tourists
- The rejuvenation of the inner-city
- A crime and grime-free city