A repost of my review at FutureCapeTown.com. Read the full article.

Living in Cape Town has given most of us a fair idea of the provincial economy’s strengths.

We know that Robben Island ferries, the cable car, the beaches and the Waterfront must, taken together, mean that tourism comprises a very substantial part of the province’s Gross Regional Domestic Product (GRDP). If you’ve lived in Cape Town longer than ten years, you also know that there used to be far less for visitors to do (in the neatly-packaged, commercialised sense). You would conclude from this that tourism has emerged from a low base in 1994 to become a key driver of employment growth and GRDP and you would be right.

If you’re a Capetonian of longer standing, you would also know that there used to be many more factories than there are now, and that where banks of call centre headsets now hang from identical monitors, women and men once made clothing, machinery and consumer goods. You might conclude from this that manufacturing is in long-term decline in our province and that services have expanded to fill the gap, and you would be right again. The Provincial Economic Review and Outlook report will tell you broadly what you suspect, if you keep half an eye out for ‘To Let’ signs, the health and bustle of our working suburbs, and who is and who isn’t expanding and prospering in the Western Cape economy.

One of the main findings of the report is that the Western Cape, which has no mining industry to speak of, has less to gain from South African export growth than manufacturing and mining provinces. In fact, the Western Cape economy remains deeply tied up in Europe as by far its single-greatest trading partner (40 per cent of this province’s exports go there, compared to only 25 per cent of South Africa’s exports).

But its 187 pages did contain a number of unmistakeable messages, not all of which are common sense, and some of which may surprise you.