W Cape on track as ‘Africa’s Silicon Valley’

6 May 2013

South Africa’s Western Cape province is establishing a reputation as Africa’s version of Silicon Valley for its easy access to technology and lower business start-up costs, according to the 2012 Sanlam/Business Partners Entrepreneur of the Year winner, Stuart Forrest.

Forrest is the owner of Triggerfish Animation, which produced Adventures in Zambezia, and won last year’s Entrepreneur of the Year title in the category Innovator of the Year.

The Sanlam/Business Partners competition recognises entrepreneurial spirit and excellence, and was established in 2010.

“Due to the city’s entrepreneurial activity, Cape Town has seen an influx of IT [information technology] and tech start-ups,” spokesperson the Entrepreneur of the Year competition, Kobus Engelbrecht, said in a statement last week.

“By attracting the best entrepreneurs, technical brains and foreign direct investment, Cape Town is quickly becoming a local ‘Silicon Valley’.”

Vinny Lingham and Justin Stanford’s launch of the Silicon Cape venture in 2009 also contributed to the region’s reputation as a technology hub, Engelbrecht said.

Silicon Cape is a high-tech innovation hub to attract top technical entrepreneurs.

“Initiatives such as this will generate seeds for a successful entrepreneurial ecosystem in Cape Town and positively contribute towards economic growth and development within South Africa,” he said.

Creating a South African version of the Californian Silicon Valley will also encourage young talent to stay in the country, Engelbrecht said, citing PayPal co-founder Elon Musk as an example of a South African who left the country and established his business in Silicon Valley.

Deeper investment is also necessary for the growth of the industry.

“The success and growth of Silicon Valley in the United States has proven that investors need to sometimes take a calculated risk and step out of their comfort zone in order to create a globally-influential technology hub,” Forrest said.

SAinfo reporter