Durban — Invest Durban deputy head Russell Curtis has heralded Durban as the most viable and most lucrative of investor paradises because of its strategic location as a port city, with infrastructure such as the Dube Tradeport, King Shaka International Airport and fibre optics.
Curtis said the lifestyle of business and pleasure together was unique throughout the continent, which means that eThekwini has “the best combination of all those things in one city.”
He said the city was also regarded as a tourism gateway to Africa.
He added that the biggest investors that have chosen Durban as their investment of choice included the UK, the US and Asia.
“Invest Durban aims to stimulate economic growth to attract and create investment for the eThekwini municipality,” Curtis said.
He said the economic development and planning cluster of eThekwini, Invest Durban, had four mandates, which included attracting investors.
The first mandate, he said, was investment marketing and promotion, which involved the city and its catalytic projects.
“Our main mandate is to identify and attract international investors to Durban, and then hold their hand through all the regulations and processes until their businesses begin to show sustainability.”
“Existing foreign investments include retention and expansion, which is like trying to keep the plug in the bath and making sure that you don’t lose water in the bath.
“This involves looking at some of the bigger international investors and how to retail them, help them and assist them in their expansion plans.
“The other mandate is investment advocacy, which involves improving the business environment in Durban, through a range of different activities”.
Curtis said that their outreach was physical and virtual.
To achieve this, he said, “We have been reaching out to their source markets, which include the UK, the EU, the US, China, India, across Africa; both through physical engagements, in the form of inbound missions from those countries, outbound engagements to those countries, as well as through digital engagements.”
He said they promoted Durban via different platforms including publications, a range of channels and media houses.
“We have encapsulated it in an acronym which we call ALL HITS, which involves some of the comparative or competitive advantages which investors find interesting in Durban, which makes us one of Africa’s award-winning cities,” he said.
Curtis said that in spite of all the challenges and all the problems, eThekwini was one of the few municipalities in Africa that had a double-A investment rating.
“We sit among one of the largest human resource pools in KwaZulu-Natal, with a variety of institutions of higher learning and training, such as the UKZN, which is the second largest direct-contact university across the African continent, and produces human resources for the job market around Durban”.
He said it was part work, part entrepreneur, part corporate, part business, but also culture, lifestyle, family, sport and entertainment, which are all found in one city, he added.
This, he said, was reflective of “us” as humans and citizens of Durban. He said it was advantageous that Durban was a metropolitan port.
“Coastal metropolitan port cities always outperform national averages and many others.”
He said Durban’s infrastructural leadership put it ahead of its sister cities. This was because of the new airport, fibre optics, the port getting new international investors and being regarded as a tourism crown because Durban had just hosted the Africa Tourism Indaba again.
The city, he said, had the largest number of Southern African domestic tourists that still chose Durban as their tourism destination.
“As much as we are a secondary city in South African terms, we feel we are the most sustainable city. We have a good spread of sectors across primary, secondary and tertiary sectors, so there are a lot of suppliers, a lot of professional service organisations and potential markets for investors to find. So these are ALL HITS of what we would like to pitch to the investors,” Curtis said.
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