As the world grapples with the Covid-19 pandemic, eThekwini Municipality has been recognised by the World Bank’s Competitive Cities Programme as one of the best practice cities for its economic response to the global pandemic.
In a session titled “How Cities are Supporting Their Economies During Covid-19 and What We Can Learn from It” held recently, the City was hailed for moving swiftly to mobilise business support platforms and also reinforce relationships with the private sector to better respond to the economic blow dealt by Covid-19.
The City’s Deputy Head of Policy, Strategy, Information and Research in the Economic Development Unit, Dr Ajiv Maharaj, who also drives the Competitive Cities Programme locally, did a presentation at a recent webinar which culminated in Durban being included as one of the best practice case studies from around the world alongside London, Milan and other big cities, that others can learn from.
“Webinars for sharing experiences and thereby help cities think about their own responses to the pandemic have been taking place. The World Bank in India has also shown interest in learning how we are responding to the challenges in the informal sector,” said Dr Maharaj.
Speaking at the economic support session, Dmitry Sivaev, an urban development specialist at World Bank said Durban has demonstrated the significance of partnerships and coalitions with the private sector.
“In the time of the pandemic they have managed to fully utilize existing networks and partnerships to collect information, conduct impact tracking and distribute support where it is most needed, for the City’s economic development and resilience,” said Sivaev.
Among responses highlighted were the mobilisation of Durban’s Economic Development & Growth in EThekwini (EDGE) for impact tracking, forecasting and acting as a single contact point with the City’s businesses and the rapid evaluation of impact on Small, Medium & Micro Enterprise (SMMEs) through a partnership with the Durban Chamber of Commerce.
Responses to the need for business continuity including rates and building plan approval functions, the need for one source of reliable information and that of a facilitator for national and private sector funds were also highlighted.
The Competitive Cities Programme works with numerous cities around the world in building capacity and sharing best practices from around the globe, for cities to improve competitiveness and job creation with an emphasis on partnerships as a way of economic growth stimulation.