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Cape Town

Overview

Cape Town is located in the province of Western Cape on the Atlantic coastline of South Africa and about 110 miles from the southernmost point of continental Africa. It is the oldest and third largest city in South Africa, and is also the country’s legislative capital. Although there is evidence of human habitation in the region around 100,000 years ago, it was not until April 1652 and the arrival of Jan van Riebeeck of the Dutch East India Company that the first permanent settlement was established in the area. The original function of the early settlement was as a re-supply post for Dutch ships sailing to East Africa and Asia.

Economy

Within the Western Cape Province, the city of Cape Town is the focal point of business for the region. The Cape Town Metropolitan area accounts for nearly three quarters of the Western Cape’s economy, consisting of mechanical and electrical equipment, textiles, foodstuff, metal processing, agriculture and fishing. Around 25% of the country’s gross income for the agricultural sector is generated by the Western Cape Province.

As the legislative capital of the Republic of South Africa, the city is also home to many commercial, financial and insurance companies. Tourism is also an important part of the Cape’s economy, and with the increasing worldwide trend for eco-tourism, the waters around the Cape are drawing tourists who wish to see wild dolphins, penguins and whales in ever-growing numbers. Tourism accounts for nearly 10% of the Western Cape’s GDP, with around 1.5 million tourists a year. Along with tourism it is also becoming a popular conference and convention venue for many international companies and organisations. Another long-established contributor to the region’s economy is wine production: quality wines have been produced in the Cape region for over three hundred and fifty years. A growing sector of the Western Cape’s economy is the film industry and the industries related to film production, such as carpentry and hospitality. The film industry accounts for in the region of 2 billion Rand coming into the province.

Standard Of Living

The standard of living in Cape Town, just like the rest of South Africa, is highly variable, and ranges from the affluence of the city to the poverty of the black townships. In general, Cape Town has a low cost of living when compared to areas such as Western Europe.

For many tourists, Cape Town is the first choice for a trip to South Africa and the majestic Table Mountain is their first view of Cape Town whether they arrive by land, sea or air. For many visitors to the region, the Western Cape offers so much to see and do, that a single trip will never be enough to take it all in. The city itself boasts many museums covering many subjects, but probably the best known internationally is the prison museum on Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was incarcerated.

For shopping, the Victoria and Alfred waterfront is home to somewhere in the region of 400 shops, ranging from familiar high street stores such as Woolworth’s to more exclusive shops including the likes of Dunhill. Also at the Waterfront are craft shops selling an array of African wares. For food lovers the restaurants of Cape Town offer a wide selection of cuisines using locally produced ingredients. The cities nightlife is noted by many as vibrant, and with a good choice of clubs and bars it is not difficult to see why. The more adventurous traveller is also catered for by a number tours including scuba diving with sharks or a trip to the wine-producing region of the Western Cape.

Infrastructure

Cape Town International Airport, formally known as D.F. Malan airport, is the second largest in South Africa after Johannesburg. The airport is situated around 12 miles east of the city and in 2004 saw a throughput of just over 6 million travellers. Direct flights times to Europe are in the region of 14 to 16 hours and through a number of carriers, and there are also direct and indirect flights to North America and the Far East. Although the airport deals with cargo, the majority arrives and leaves through Cape Town’s Sea Port at Table Bay.

The port at Cape Town, according to the National Ports Authority of South Africa, has a throughput capacity at the container terminal of 420 000 TEU’s (Twenty foot Equivalent Units) a year. As well the container traffic the port also handles around 3.5 to 4 million tonnes of cargo per year. The area around Cape Town is home to many main shipbuilding companies who have their offices and manufacturing facilities located there. The port is also a popular destination for cruise ships with a number of them being around the world cruises. The main railway station is situated close to the central business district and has direct links to Bloemfontein, Durban, Johannesburg and Kimberly. The business district is currently undergoing a process of regeneration, renewal and renovation aimed at turning Cape Town into a world-class city.

The communication infrastructure of the Western Cape is, along with the rest of the country, amongst the best in Africa, with mobile phone coverage being available nation wide and Internet access available all over Cape Town.

Almost all electrical power for the Western Cape is generated at the Koeberg nuclear power station located about 20 miles north of the city. Due to ongoing technical problems at Koeberg, Cape Town regularly experiences power cuts (load shedding), especially during the winter months when demand is high. However the discovery of oil and gas fields in the Atlantic Ocean may some day help alleviate the problem.

Workforce

The City of Cape Town in 2004 had a population of around 2.9 million and according to WESGRO (the official Trade and Investment Agency of the Western Cape) a Labour Force of 1,370,113. The largest employment group was the wholesale and retail sector with 175,524 people, followed by manufacturing, financial, real estate and business services. The smallest group was mining and quarrying standing at 2,248.

The Western Cape is home to a number of South Africa’s top universities, of which the University of Cape Town and Stellenbosch University are two of the best known. In January 2005 the Cape Peninsula University of Technology was created by the amalgamation of Cape Technikon and Peninsula Technikon. Although other areas of South Africa are suffering skills shortages, Cape Town is able to provide the region with highly skilled and motivated workers.

Business Costs

According to the real estate advisory company CBRichard Ellis in 2006, prime office rent in Cape Town stands at €145 per square metre per year comparing favourably with its European counterparts. The occupancy cost in London (West End) was €1251, while Paris, Frankfurt and Munich were €639, €402 and €360 respectively.
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