Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille dropped by the Woodstock Exchange last week to gauge the progress of the Cape Innovation and Technology Initiative (CITI), one of six special purpose vehicles the City supports in terms of its trade and investment mandate.
The facility is home to innovation clusters and hubs such as Barclays Rise, an acceleration centre for tech entrepreneurs working in financial technology.
Cape Town was selected as the African capital for Barclays Rise, thereby making it the fourth global site after New York, London and Manchester.
Thomson Reuters has also recently selected Cape Town to be the host of its African innovation lab, Thomson Reuters Labs, beating the likes of Johannesburg and Nairobi.
The mayoral entourage enjoyed the opportunity to speak to some of the innovators housed at the Bandwidth Barn, many of whom are concerned with developing technologies to uplift communities and address social concerns.
Addressing a gathering of young entrepreneurs, Ms De Lille said the City was proud to be associated with 107 programmes aimed at the youth.
“You will soon be this country’s leaders, and what you are doing here is important for our future. What we want to do is open up our databases to you so that you can use them to develop applications, which can help our residents and assist in governing the city,” she said.
“We can’t have a situation where 60 percent of our youth are unemployed. I often refer to myself as a ‘BBC’, a person Born Before Computers, but we have much talent in the technology field that you can make our great city even greater.”
The mayor wanted to not only make Cape Town the tech capital of Africa, but the ideas capital of the continent.
“We are planning on having a festival of ideas, to be held later this year. I am sure the ideas that would come out of that would be amazing.”
One of the entrepreneurs Ms De Lille spoke to during her site visit, Nathier Abrahams, is the founder of Tutorfy, which matches certified private educators to students depending on their requirements.
“We are like the airbnb or Uber of tutoring,” Mr Abrahams told the Tatler. “Our idea is to empower students by putting them in touch with quality tutors.”
Once the match between students and tutor has been made, clients are able to buy a lesson package by paying online.
Another innovator, Regina Kgatle, joined the Telkom InnoTech programme for direction, growth and validation for her idea, Educade, which empowers school classrooms with games, apps, and maker kits.
The mayor listened intently as she explained the finer points of #67GAMES, which saw 67 games curated from a global range of titles based on the existing South African primary school curriculum and generated over multiple global game “jams” around Mandela Day last year.
The City of Cape Town has invested just more than R10 million in Citi since 2011 and some of this has been used to fund CapaCiti, a job-readiness programme.
It was born out of the necessity to meet the ICT-related needs of industries such as insurance, asset management, and retail which were offshoring their software development skills outside of the region.
CapaCiti focuses on creating work and training opportunities for unemployed graduates and unemployed youth in particular.
“Since its inception, this initiative has skilled more than 900 underprivileged youth from low-income areas such as Delft, Khayelitsha, Gugulethu and Mitchell’s Plain.
“These young people receive training in scarce IT skills; work experience, via post-training and internships; soft skill training and basic living support (stipends); and ongoing support via the CapaCiti intern support group initiative.
“The programme has been a rousing success with a 96 percent placement rate, thereby providing real hope of employment for the graduates of this programme,” Ms De Lille said.