The economic pillar is best understood as developing a detailed business plan for a communiTgrow city. Consequently, each city developed by communiTgrow will have its own unique business plan. Initially, the economic pillar of communiTgrow is less about establishing a robust economy than it is about a 20 plus year business plan for the new development initiative. The goal is to ensure that sustainable microindustries are created on the back of supplying the established demand for homes. The attendant opportunity is the subsequent clustering around the construction industry and the magnets / attractors which create a multiplier effect that in turn establishes a full array of sustainable economic activities over the life of the building project converting these into permanent jobs for the citizens of the fledgling city. The sole objective of the economic pillar in the evolving new city is to establish a meso-economy built on the impetus of the construction of housing, the micro-economic business clustering within the a macroeconomic regional context.

The housing backlog in South Africa is approximately 2.1 million homes and an estimated 400 000 within the City of Cape Town. This is a significant demand which has not yet been fully utilised in South Africa or Cape Town as the potential engine to turn around the fortunes of an economy struggling to create jobs. This is no different to the demand which will characterise urbanisation in Africa over the next four decades, where the demand will be to establish at least 800 cities similar in size to what is being planned at Wescape in Cape Town by communiTgrow.

The economic pillar is considered to be the cornerstone of the communiTgrow model and as such the business plan must investigate every aspect of the business model. This is done to ensure that the design of the city is aligned with the business of establishing the new city; initially the built environment followed by the commercial and social environments with governance as the capstone of the business structure. How will this happen? Who will make it happen? What mechanisms need to be in place to facilitate job creation and economic growth? What is the theory underpinning the economy of the new city? These are the aspects which will be investigated in detail in the communiTgrow business plan for each new city. The investigation demands multidimensional interdisciplinary insight and a long range perspective into business modelling and implementation programming. In order to fully appreciate the communiTgrow modelling we have provided as many illustrative diagrams to show the interconnectedness of the various aspects of the model.

Historically, Africa’s experience of economic business development models have been that these are extractionist in orientation, which means that they have exported natural resources and/or goods and services with the intent of leaving much of the proceeds offshore. These resources are then utilised in the production of goods which in turn get sold back to Africa for profit, again to be sent offshore. Little consideration has ever been given to the ecology of the land or the residents on the land, save as an afterthought by social activists. Growing political pressure in post-Apartheid South Africa and other African countries is aimed at compelling companies to “put back” or “beneficiate” the community as a way of “reparation” for these extractionist strategies and exploitative labour practices of the past.

To date, these factors have not translated into easy solutions or opportunities for regions. However, communiTgrow modelling as applied to the Wescape initiative which serves as our test bed, offers insight into a possible regenerative solution for Africa.  The current population of the West Coast area of the Western Cape, which comprises the areas of Blaauwberg, Melkbos, Atlantis and Witsands is approximately 330 000 people, with an unemployment rate of 25% by narrow definition and around 40% by broad definition. The proposed Wescape initiative of 200 000 new homes based on a communiTgrow model would ensure that job-creation and regional beneficiation, or ‘putting back’, is built into the economic model from the outset and not as an afterthought. Such an approach would drastically shrink regional unemployment in a sustainable manner.

communiTgrow’s business strategy is to stake out new market spaces, establishing value propositions on the back of providing affordable housing, creating new demand for products and services for which there is no direct competition. Through its emphasis and philosophy of regenerative systems design, communiTgrow is determined to supply the obvious demand for houses but will do so in a way that creates viable and sustainable micro and meso-economies characterised by a diversified market place.

“Growing” an economy requires more than project development finance or investment. It requires time which must be intricately programmed into phases which detail when each portfolio class of a city is built and becomes part of the social fabric of the new city. The rate of populating the new city dictates the demand and need for services as well as consumer goods. communiTgrow has set a strategic target that 85% of the entire workforce must come from the local population. To achieve such a goal, communiTgrow must have mapped and anticipate when certain needs will become apparent and at what thresholds the new city must provide service facilities. This modelling has been compiled for Wescape as seen in this image.

Keeping track of job creation is an absolute essential element of the development of a new city based on communiTgrow principles. The uptake of housing and growth in the commercial and industrial sector requires that jobs are provided in lock step with the growth of population in the new city. To help plan for this need communiTgrow has undertaken the development of a dynamic projection tool. The tool offers population expectation per phase of development and utilises economic and statistical formulas to derive the number of jobs required per sector for any given population. Such a figure creates a normative framework and dynamic targets to help ensure high-level tracking of sustainable growth for the community.

The diagram below illustrates the direction and momentum that are created as the development moves through its various phases and the programmed increase in the provision of houses, population and the need for a more diversified job creation base. The stages are somewhat predictable yet have to be carefully programmed and supported if it is to be sustainable. The logical development will be from a construction and manufacturing based economy towards retail and services and ultimately towards innovative technology and design with related BPO hubs.

Online edition & free download of communiTgrow’s book “2 BILLION STRONG” available here.

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