Cape Town

South Africa


Dan Plato


4,490,000 (2019)

Lead Innovation Officer

Craig Kesson

Innovation is helping to:
  • Anticipate and manage future challenges

  • Improve service delivery

  • Improve resident outcomes

Critical success factors:
  • Dedicated innovation team

  • Leadership from Mayor

  • Culture of innovation in city

  • Support from outside city administration

  • Dedicated funding

Spotlight on innovation in Cape Town

As part of its Integrated Development Plan 2017-2022, the City of Cape Town has identified innovation and data as drivers for operational sustainability, which will help realize its strategic focus of building a well-run city. Besides a small team that coordinates all innovation activities, the city also created an innovation forum comprised of representatives from all directorates in the administration. Together with change agents, these representatives are responsible for driving innovation programs within their specific areas. In 2019, Cape Town also launched their Data Strategy to drive evidence-based decision-making.

Vision and approach to innovation capacity

Along with 50% of cities surveyed, Cape Town does not have an explicit innovation strategy. Similar to more than half of cities surveyed, Cape Town approaches innovation capacity both from a holistic/macro level, as well as in specific policy areas.

Policy areas that Cape Town is focused on

Environment and climate change
Policy areas by number of cities

Cape Town utilizes 5 different innovation skills or roles

Project manager
Communication officer
Innovation roles by number of cities

Cape Town’s innovation work is being led by the Innovation and Organizational Effectiveness and Innovation Department and innovation related-task groups with delegates from different departments within the municipality. As an independent department, Cape Town’s dedicated innovation team consists of 12 staff.

Terms Cape Town most associates with innovation

Human-centered design

Cape Town's most common innovation activities

Engaging residents in new ways
Developing new solutions based on digital technologies
e.g. use of drones or smart sensors
Facilitating organizational change within the municipality
e.g. silo-busting; new internal performance management; staff training and capacity building on innovation tools or techniques; reforms to contracting or procurement
Human-centered design
e.g. prioritizing the end-user at each stage of the design process
Rethinking approaches to financing and partnerships
e.g. new public-private-partnerships; collaboration with neighboring jurisdictions
  1. 1

    Taking risks or testing new ideas

  2. 2

    Data-driven analytics/public data management

  3. 3

    Engaging residents in new ways

  4. 4

    Developing new solutions based on digital technologies

  5. 5

    Organizational change within the municipality

  6. 6

    Human-centered design

  7. 7

    Rethinking your city’s approach to financing partnerships

How is innovation funded here?

Like 81% of cities surveyed, Cape Town has dedicated funding to support innovation capacity.

Top sources of funding

International/multilateral institution budget
International/multilateral institution budget
This refers to resources from international and/or multilateral institutions’ budgets (i.e. European Union)
Municipal budget
Municipal budget
This could include, for instance, City Council approved funds; operating budget; a special funding process (bond, Mayoral special initiative funding, etc.); and participatory budgeting / citizen-selected budgeting.

Activities being funded

Idea generation & brainstorming
Investing in physical infrastructure
Investing in digital systems
Paying for services
47 cities
Launching or sustaining a project
79 cities
Idea generation & brainstorming
51 cities
Investing in digital systems
36 cities
Investing in physical infrastructure
30 cities
Paying for services

Similar to 61% of participating cities in the 2020 survey, Cape Town's funding for innovation capacity is also directed towards training staff and building capacity*.

*"Training staff and building capacity" is not an option in the 2018 survey, while "Launching or sustaining a project" is not an option in the 2020 survey.

How is innovation measured?

Cape Town has developed partnerships to promote innovation capacity with other public agencies, private firms, not-for-profit organizations, and city residents/resident associations.

To improve data use, the city has also developed data partnerships with academia and think tanks to collect and analyze data, as well as with other cities.

Data availability by policy area


Sufficient data


Economic Development

Housing and built environment

Policing and law enforcement


Waste and sewage

Environment and climate change

Social inclusion and equity


Digital governance

Built environment

Land use


Government finance

Public works

Social welfare/social services

Insufficient data

Digital governance

No Response


Labour market and skills