“Cape Town is a city with strong fundamentals, aspiring talent and a palpable excitement, set against a backdrop of inequality, which is borne out of the country’s past, but which will play a role in the city’s future,” said Jon Williams, head of Cities and Urbanisation at PwC Africa.
Its strongest scores are for cost, ease of doing business, transportation and infrastructure, and sustainability and the natural environment, with moderate scores in intellectual capital and innovation and health, safety and security.
Implications for the government, aside from the current water crisis, include strengthening local, national, public and private collaboration, fully embracing digital technology and data, and building on the success of tourism.
This study provides useful insights by assessing Cape Town against 30 of the world’s leading cities across 10 indicators of urban success: intellectual capital and innovation; technology readiness; city gateway; health, safety and security; sustainability and the natural environment; demographics and liveability; transportation and infrastructure; economic clout; ease of doing business; and cost.
Transportation and infrastructure is one of the city’s strongest areas, finishing top of the MICCs and 14th in the global cohort - ahead of Amsterdam, Milan and Tokyo.
Rapid urbanisation and limited space between an ocean and mountain mean enabling people to get around is a competency that requires constant investment.
Sustainability and the natural environment is another of Cape Town’s better scores, finishing 17th out of 31 and second among the MICCs. For business, a host of green initiatives and job-creation programmes look set to build on Cape Town’s status as a tech hub.
However, the drought has brought the city to the brink of turning off the taps, highlighting the need for serious interventions to improve water resilience.
Ease of doing business is another strong performing area for Cape Town. The city also benefits from a business-friendly regulatory environment and low costs, ranking first for cost of business occupancy.
Indeed, for cost, Cape Town boasts a much greater quality-of-life to cost-of-living ratio than all other global cities, bar Joburg, the difference between the two largely explained by the cost of housing. Cape Town is the bottom third of the global study, but the top third of the MICCs for intellectual capital and innovation.
Health, safety and security is an area where Cape Town does moderately, finishing 21st out of 31 and third among the MICCs.
The scores describe a city that has a low macroeconomic, political and disease risks.
However, providing quality healthcare and personal safety to large numbers of the population remain development areas.
Technology readiness is an area where Cape Town’s low score (29) belies a rising trajectory and a real sense of excitement. Technology is both a major area of success for the city - it is home to about 60% of all tech start-ups - and a key strategic area. Cape Town comes third bottom (28) for economic clout.
The city comes 7th overall for employment growth while a look at its foreign-direct investment reveals an area of huge potential.