Western Cape wants South Africa to introduce a new ‘remote working’ visa

Western Cape premier Alan Winde presented his state of the province address (Sopa) on Thursday (17 February), detailing the projects the province is currently working on.

Winde touched on a number of areas including energy, job creation and transportation – with most of the issues focusing on the province’s economic recovery after a devastating Covid-19 lockdown.

The premier also warned that the province is not yet out of the woods and that the country was likely to face a third Covid-19 wave in the coming months, which will make the rollout of vaccines essential.

Because of these concerns, Winde indicated that the province was pushing forward on its plans to procure additional vaccines.

“We will face another wave of Covid-19 infections in our country. We must make sure we are fully prepared to save lives, to save jobs and to bring hope back in 2021,” he said.

Winde said that the province plans to mitigate the risk that a centralised vaccine procurement process creates, by putting in place the necessary systems to procure additional vaccines.

He added that the province is making sure that it is fully prepared for an inevitable third Covid-19 wave.

New visa and tourism push 

Winde said that international tourism will not recover to pre-Covid-19 levels this year, as the pandemic continues in many countries around the world.

“There are also a growing number of restrictions being placed on travel to our country due to what I believe is unfair global reporting on the variant identified by scientists in South Africa,” he said.

Despite these issues, Winde said that the Western Cape is looking at new ways to drive tourism to the province.

One potential avenue is attracting ‘digital nomads’ through a new remote-working visa.  The premier noted that Cape Town was recently named on the list of the 50 best cities for remote working.

“These ‘digital nomads’ are a new kind of tourist, who will stay in our province for 3 months instead of 3 weeks, enjoying our tourism offer while working on their laptops,” he said.

“We have everything it takes to be the best remote working location in the world if we remove the red tape – and roll-out the red-carpet for these travellers. To do so, South Africa urgently needs to introduce a ‘Remote Working Visa’. Most leading tourism destinations in the world have one already, and we should have one too.”

“The Western Cape Government will therefore lobby both the president and the minister of Home Affairs, Aaron Motsoaledi, to introduce this visa as soon as possible.”

“We must continue to be the leading tourism destination in South Africa, and we must encourage more of our fellow citizens to visit our province.”


Improved transport service

Winde also announced the launch of a new taxi service following the successful use of the red-dot transport service last year.

“As part of this ‘red dot’ project, a fleet of over 100 minibus taxis undertook over 110,000 trips to get healthcare workers to and from work safely during curfew times,” he said.

“This is clearly an approach that works and that is precisely why we are looking at ways to expand it.”

Winde said that the province will now look to pilot a ‘blue dot’ transport service that will be a voluntary, rewards-based programme.

“The blue dots service will leverage technology & incentivise behaviour change to ensure a safe and efficient taxi service,” he said.

“To do so, it will provide financial incentives or rewards for improved quality of service and safety and it will use a five-star rating system.”


Energy

Winde also reaffirmed the province’s plans to move away from Eskom and load shedding.

“Infrastructure-led growth and a well-run, reliable transport network will assist greatly in generating the economic growth that we need to fight the battle against unemployment.”

“But it will mean very little if our economy does not have the energy it needs to grow. Eskom’s load-shedding, which continues this year, cost the Western Cape’s economy approximately R75 million per stage, per day in 2020,” he said.

Winde said it is ‘unfathomable’ to expect families and businesses to have to contend with these power cuts, combined with the devastation caused by Covid-19,

He added that the Western Cape now plans to be the first province in South Africa to escape Eskom load shedding through a municipal power generation programme.


Read: South Africa recovered 2 million jobs lost during lockdown – but there’s a catch

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Western Cape wants South Africa to introduce a new ‘remote working’ visa