by Bevan Bax
The Kwazulu-Natal government has finalised the provincial growth and development strategy (PGDS) and its implementation plan while local economic development has been identified as key to growing the economy. The provincial growth and development plan (PGDP) highlights local economic development (LED) capacity as a main area of concern, as some municipalities have constraints that do not allow for fully implementing LED strategies.
In essence, the KZN PGDP promotes the concept of strengthening the capacity and building the skills of the officials responsible for implementation of LED in KZN. Furthermore, the national LED framework poses capacity building as one of the features that form the enabling blocks; it emphatically states that in order for LED to be efficiently implemented at the local level, it is imperative that the officials at ground level are capacitated to adequately and efficiently undertake their duties.
Hence, the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (GOGTA) LED unit has embarked on an initiative of capacitating the LED practitioners within the municipalities . The LED municipal officials were trained on how to aid the development of entrepreneurship and SMME’s within local communities.
With South Africa seeing a significant deceleration in economic growth rates in recent years, entrepreneurship has been identified as a key driver of growth. ln a bid to aid and develop an entrepreneurial culture within local communities and aid in supporting and developing SMMEs, municipal LED officials will strive to aid SMMEs in overcoming their challenges.
UKZN Extended Learning partnered with COGTA to develop the Local Economic Development Capacity Building Programme In Entrepreneurship And Small Medium Micro Enterprises For Municipal Officials. Together, we designed the curriculum that was needed in order to build capacity among the LED practitioners within municipalities. The programme ran successfully over 2 days (24-25 February 2016) and covered various areas within Regional Local Economic Development and Entrepreneurship. Dr Jennifer Houghton and Professor Shahida Cassim who are champions in LED and Entrepreneurship packed the two-day programme with experiential learning.
Feedback from the municipal official attendees was highly positive and they are motivating to have more courses run for them along the lines of LED and Entrepreneurship.