More business people needed in government – Winde

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More business people need to become involved in government if it is to better understand and support entrepreneurs in Cape Town and the rest of South Africa, according to Western Cape minister of economic opportunities Alan Winde.

Winde was speaking this morning at the U-Start Africa conference in Cape Town, and said the Western Cape government was doing its best to support entrepreneurs but needed collaboration with the ecosystem.

“I think we need more people who have been in business to get involved in government,” he said. “We need people to understand what it is like, how difficult it is sometimes to get your businesses going.”

He said through collaboration real change could be made to the Cape Town business environment and ecosystem.

“We have to understand that we have got to play a role here, but it is Africa. That is where the opportunities lie,” he said, adding current growth figures and projections were not as high as they should be.

“How are we going to create a new environment here in Cape Town? We have to look at Africa very carefully and we have to look at ourselves very carefully,” Winde said.

The minister said the provincial government was working on cutting red tape, and had launched a scheme encouraging people to inform it of where problems were.

“If you ask government to tell government where blockages are you’re not going to find them. If we want to remove red tape I want you to engage with me and tell me where the blockages are,” Winde said.

He said the government’s policies on the rollout of broadband and free Wi-Fi zones in the province would also assist entrepreneurs.

The Western Cape government in March partnered Alan Knott-Craig Jr’s Project Isizwe to roll out Free Internet Zones (FIZs) to more than 90,000 residents to parts of the province.

“There are going to be huge opportunities on the back of broadband connectivity in creating this ecosystem. And it links to our other investments, how we support the Bandwidth Barn, how we support other incubator spaces,” Winde said.

“It is critical for us, we’re putting billions of rand into this.”

He said he was optimistic about the results of providing free Wi-Fi to residents.

“What I’m interested in is how many people are going to be creating businesses using that.”

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Passionate about the vibrant tech startups scene in Africa, Tom can usually be found sniffing out the continent's most exciting new companies and entrepreneurs, funding rounds and any other developments within the growing ecosystem.

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