“There are some 200 Houston companies that have significant ties with South Africa [and] there are 14 companies in South Africa that have headquarters facilities in Houston. Sasol are building new US headquarters in Houston, some 600 jobs that will be coming,” Mayor of Houston,Texas Annise Parker told CNBC Africa.
“I’m here for the C40 Summit so we’re here to build other activities around it. [Sasol] have a major plant expansion very close to Houston in Lake Charles, Louisiana. As we expand our natural gas production, there are a lot of companies looking to take advantage of that, including Sasol.”
Representative from the City of Houston will be among the many delegates at the C40 Mayors Summit, which starts off today in Johannesburg. The Summit is aimed at finding urban solutions to global climate change and the future of cities.
Texas is the world capital for oil and gas production and its related industries. The city of Houston is also a major port city, a city of medicine, and is also home to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and aerospace.
“This trip, in addition to oil and gas connections, we’re promoting aerospace. The Johnson space centre mission control for NASA is in Houston, and space is becoming increasingly commercialised, particularly the US space programme. We believe there are companies that want to be part of space exploration, they need to be in Houston to do that,” Parker explained.
The mayor also plans to meet with government leaders during the C40 Mayors Summit and mayor-to-mayor meetings will be instrumental to finding out similarities, challenges and adopting experiences.
“Every mayor wants to build business. Meetings with the mayor of Johannesburg, mayor of Cape Town, I’m going to be talking about Houston companies that might want to do business this year,” Parker added.
Despite the last C40 Mayors Summit in 2011, Parker explained that there had been progress from the targets and benchmarks that had been set up then.
“I think what’s changed in these intervening three years is that the rest of the world has caught up with the discussion of sustainability. Sustainability in terms of the environment, but in terms of the economic prosperity of all of our citizens,” said Parker.
“80 per cent of the world’s economy comes from cities. The world is becoming increasingly urbanised and that won’t be reversed. As big cities, we have to figure out ways to tackle the challenges that we all have: environmental issues, fresh water and clean air. Also, how do you build an economy locally that sustains the workforce, and how do you train the workforce locally for the jobs that you will have.”