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Cape Town: the next frontier for sustainable investment

7 December 2023

Known as the Mother City, the Tavern of the Seas, or simply Cape Town, this spectacular coastal city is on track to earn itself a new reputation as the green-economy hub of South Africa. With its commitment to sustainability, favourable business environment, and its position as the gateway to the rest of Africa, the City is the ideal springboard for sustainable investment throughout the continent.

Located close to the southernmost tip of the African continent, Cape Town is South Africa’s second-largest city – boasting world-class infrastructure, top universities and an excellent governance record. What’s more, the city is firmly positioned in the country’s most energy-secure province.

Despite being recognised as one of the most beautiful cities in the world, Cape Town has had to contend with severe environmental crises, such as water and energy shortages. These have encouraged the city to recognise the importance of prioritising a green economy, giving rise to new opportunities such as aquaculture and renewable energy.

Green economy

At the heart of Cape Town’s robust green economy lies a range of sectors and practices aimed at promoting sustainable development, while minimising environmental impact. These include renewable energy, water management, waste management, sustainable agriculture and eco-tourism, to name a few.

By supporting these industries, Cape Town is spearheading a transition towards a more sustainable future. It is also cementing its position as a cleantech hub and a great green investment destinatoin, in an industry expected to grow to as much as R110,5 billion (US$7,8 billion) by 2035.

Catalyst for innovation 

One key development in Cape Town’s green economy is the Atlantis GreenTech Special Economic Zone (SEZ). This initiative, supported by both the government and the private sector, has transformed the area into a vibrant hub for renewable industries.

The SEZ is the ideal location for businesses involved in renewable energy, from where they can compete in Africa’s energy markets. By creating a dedicated space for these industries, Cape Town has become an epicentre for innovation and investment in the green economy.

Strategically located near renewable-energy projects, the SEZ offers access to key resources, attractive investment incentives, and modern infrastructure– including a well-functioning harbour. This favourable business environment has attracted numerous companies, both local and international, seeking to capitalise on the potential of the green economy.

Thriving ecosystem 

Cape Town’s green economy extends beyond the Atlantis SEZ. The city boasts a diverse and thriving ecosystem of green industries and governance principles, supported by organisations such as GreenCape – a special-purpose vehicle (SPV) designed for the clean-energy industry.

Beyond this, Cape Town’s municipality has committed to becoming carbon neutral by 2050. To do this, local government will continue incentivising green industries, ensuring procurement is green, and generating or purchasing renewable energy.

Moreover, the city’s commitment to sustainability aligns with global trends and investor priorities. As the world grapples with the urgency of climate change, sustainable investments have gained significant momentum.

Today, responsible investors seek opportunities that not only yield financial returns, but also contribute to a greener future. Cape Town’s green economy offers a fertile ground for such investments, with the potential for both financial and environmental benefits.

The Mother City is building an environment ripe for innovation and growth. With its vibrant ecosystem, strategic location and development-ready infrastructure, it is truly the next frontier for sustainable investment in South Africa.