DATA: Cape Town mayoral committee member Garreth Bloor says a new census provides a comprehensive picture of the city’s industrial zones. Picture: BUSINESS DAY
DATA: Cape Town mayoral committee member Garreth Bloor says a new census provides a comprehensive picture of the city’s industrial zones. Picture: BUSINESS DAY

WHOLESALE trade and retail are the backbone of Cape Town’s bustling industrial zones, a municipal business census survey shows.

The census, carried out by Cape Town’s economic development department and whose results were published on Wednesday, shows there are 23 industrial areas in the city’s boundaries made up of 5,557 erven or parcels of land where a total 7,229 businesses operate.

Wholesale trade and retail make up 40% of the businesses, while manufacturing stands at 34%. A total 2,723 wholesale and retail companies, and 2,318 manufacturing firms operate across the industrial zones.

Basic metals, fabricated metal products, machinery and equipment are the most common types of manufacturing in the city, with 654 businesses involved in producing these products.

Coke, refined petroleum products and nuclear fuels, chemicals and chemical products are also common manufacturing activities, with 337 such businesses dotted across the city.

A total 291 manufacturers produce wood and cork.

However, mining and quarrying trail behind, with only eight such businesses found across all 23 industrial zones. Oil and gas extraction, services related to mining minerals, as well as granite, marble, slate and cornerstone quarrying are the most common business activities in this sector.

Garreth Bloor, Cape Town mayoral committee member for tourism, events and economic development, said: "Business decision makers have often grappled with a lack of local-level business data. Where data are available, they usually have certain limitations or are packaged in a manner that is not user-friendly."

Mr Bloor said the census provided local-level data that gave a comprehensive picture of the city’s economic activities as well as pockets of vacant land. "It has revealed that each of the 23 industrial zones is quite unique in some ways, but at the same time they share similarities."

Mr Bloor said the research team that worked on the census had put together value chains to inform businesses about what services and products were available in their areas.


The Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry said the disappointment in the results of the City’s business survey is the relatively low number of firms involved in manufacturing.

“This is the sector of the economy which creates the jobs and it is clear that we still need a replacement for the once-thriving garment industry.

The Chamber was not surprised by the strength of the retail and wholesale industries as this has always been feature of the Western Cape economy. Most of the big chain stores started in the Cape and retain their headquarters here. Unfortunately they are no longer the big employers that they used to be as the self-service model has replaced many jobs on the shop floor,” the Chamber said.

It said the study shows that Cape Town needs to develop new manufacturing industries such as renewable energy and high tech industries.

“We have the brain power and the universities so it makes sense to look to the future and future needs.”