Case #2002.0

Target of Opportunity: South Africa's Western Cape Seeks a Role in the African Oil Boom

Publication Date: March 05, 2014
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This strategy case describes an initiative in the Western Cape province of South Africa to capitalize on an oil boom off the western coast of Africa by cultivating an industrial cluster of complementary businesses with the capacity to service, repair, and build components for oil and gas drilling vessels and equipment. The first half of the case lays out the initial thinking, planning, and strategizing. It includes the motive for launching the initiative, reasons to think the Western Cape was well-positioned to make a success of it, and anticipated obstacles. The second half summarizes the first ten years of the initiative, in which a string of difficulties some foreseen, some not severely limits the initiatives progress. This includes a shift in priorities in the National Ports Authority, a problematic deal for making port infrastructure improvements, and some features of local corporate culture. The case ends with reflections from two of the initiatives biggest advocates, predicting that new political developments and a possible shift in strategic approach will allow the effort better success in the coming years.

Learning Objective:
The case was developed for a course or seminar in economic development. The goal of the case is to help participants: (1) identify constraints on the growth process; (2) identify new activities that can most easily be developed successfully in a specific economy; (3) learn how to build organizations with coordinating capacity by leveraging collaborative networks; and (4) facilitate informed investment decisions by local and global corporations.

Other Details

Teaching Plan:
Available with Educator Access
Case Author:
Pamela Varley
Faculty Lead:
Ricardo Hausmann
Pages (incl. exhibits):
Africa, South Africa