GTP CONFERENCE 2017: Unlocking our urban future

Unlocking our urban future

On the 27th of June 2017 the Greater Tygerberg Partnership (GTP) hosted the Unlocking our Urban Future Conference at Century City Conference Centre. The conference was held to bring together various stakeholders from the Greater Tygerberg area who could potentially influence the development of the area, and was attended by over one hundred and fifty delegates from different sectors of the industry.

The proceedings were opened by Warren Hewitt, CEO of the GTP, who highlighted some of the challenges faced in the Bellville area. These included crime and grime, drug abuse, an increase in the number of empty spaces, and over inflated property values. Hewitt highlighted that although there were numerous challenges in the area, many efforts were underway to ensure the regeneration of the area. For example, the City of Cape Town is investing R170 million towards the development of the Voortrekker corridor.

Hewitt also described the GTP’s vision regarding this development, which is to spearhead a transformative drive that enables the regeneration of the Bellville area. This would be achieved through social integration, proactive business support to both prospective and existing investors, and promotion of public transport and safety.

The second speaker of the day was Dr Johannes Van der Merwe, a councillor, GTP board member and member of the mayoral committee. Dr Van der Merwe pointed out that Bellville and Parow had been included in the City of Cape Town’s regeneration programme and had been earmarked to receive short term support to address challenges identified in the area. In his address he also highlighted the importance of the Voortrekker Road Corridor and how the development of this area was a top priority in the Mayor’s plan.

Dr Van der Merwe’s address was followed by Justin Coetzee, Founder & CEO of GoMetro, who presented his organisation’s new solution to Cape Town’s traffic congestion. Through the use of smart technology, the new GoMetro service would provide commuters with up-to-the-minute traffic information and allow them to share rides. The use of shared mobility services would potentially reduce congestion in the Tygerberg area.

The fourth speaker was Dr Pieter van Heyningen, founder of SustNet who spoke about innovation districts as potential drivers of urban transformation in the Tygerberg area. Dr van Heyningen articulated some of the shortcomings of the present situation within the Tygerberg area, before describing how physical spaces, city landscapes, and urban spaces play a vital role in connection and innovation.

Jo-Ann Johnston, Chief Director of the Department of Economic Development and Tourism in the Western Cape Government, spoke next about the various development projects that the provincial government has embarked on, such as the Cape Catalyst Initiative, aimed at maximising the economic potential of existing infrastructure and assets. She also described how provincial government is planning to invest R3.6 billion to build a strong fibre system (digital economy) which would accelerate the rate of economic development.

The sixth speaker of the day was Larry Pokpas, the Executive Assistant to the Rector and Vice-Chancellor of the University of The Western Cape (UWC). During his presentation he highlighted the importance of the role of tertiary institutions in identifying solutions to challenges experienced within the region.

Pokpas highlighted some of the initiatives that UWC has undertaken to encourage social cohesion within the region; this included breaking the class and race divide within the area by moving some of its activities to the Bellville CBD and Waterfront. To increase economic development UWC was also looking to invest R1.5 billion towards the expansion of UWC, this would include purchasing of land, development of the ICT sector and infrastructure development. The growth of UWC would consequently aid the development of the Tygerberg area.

Photographs from the 2017 GTP conference

2017 SPEAKER LINE-UP

The speaker line-up for the GTP Conference 2017 included the below passionate and knowledgeable experts who offered their perspectives on unlocking Bellville’s potential

WARREN HEWITT

CEO Greater Tygerberg Partnership

Warren is responsible for the success of the GTP. He is a Chartered Accountant (SA) who spent seven years in the hospitality sector, three years in the retail sector and nine years in senior leadership positions in the logistics industry – first as CEO of Laser Logistics and then as Strategic Business Development Executive at the Laser Group. His biggest priorities are to turn the GTP into a well funded organisation that adds real value to all residents, businesses and investors in the area.

DR JOHANNES VAN DER MERWE

City of Cape Town Councillor, GTP board member and member of the mayoral committee

JUSTIN COETZEE

Justin Coetzee, GTP Board Director, Founder and CEO of GoMetro

DR PIETER VAN HEYNINGEN

Founding Partner Sustnet

JO-ANN JOHNSTON

Chief Director of the Department of Economic Development and Tourism in the Western Cape Government

LARRY POKPAS

Executive Assistant to the Rector and Vice-Chancellor of the University of the Western Cape (UWC)