Back to LED Basics: Making Local Economic Development Easier was the theme of this year’s Regional and Local Economic Development Initiative (RLEDI) Winter School.
The two-day event at the Royal Hotel in Durban, was hosted by the Graduate School of Business and Leadership (GSB&L) in partnership with the KwaZulu-Natal Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs Department (EDTEA). It created a platform to build knowledge, skills and critical thinking to enhance the ability of local government and civil society practitioners to effectively address local economic development needs.
The programme was divided into two sessions. In the first, Re-Imagining Local Economic Development in South Africa was facilitated by Mr Kanyiso Walaza from the national department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) while Evidence based LED decision making: Sourcing, Interpretation and use of data was led by Dr Jennifer Houghton.
The second session focused on Compiling Your Own Municipal Investment Directory: A practical demonstration facilitated by Ms Prashina Mohangi and Ms Lungile Mbatha of the South African Local Government Association (SALGA) and Business retention and expansion for economic development facilitated by Mr Donny Pethan, General Manager for business retention and expansion, Trade and Investment KZN.
Houghton who is a UKZN alumnus, former RLEDI project manager and research associate said she felt that she had come full circle and that she was pleased that the initiative had grown from strength to strength.
Current RLEDI project manager, Dr Simon Taylor said he was pleased to see a rise in the number of attendees compared to previous years as this means the initiative is effective in its mission to build deeper knowledge and greater capacity for economic growth and socio-economic upliftment in the province and nationally.
Mr Tshililo Farisani, who is a RLEDI Champion, social entrepreneur and researcher remarked that the reports by municipal officials on the current state of LED were helpful and that it was encouraging that they were open to constructive feedback from delegates.
‘I attended in the hope of learning something that would cultivate that special title of being a Champion and came away satisfied. Municipal officials and industry experts from around the country attended and contributed to discussions on the state of LED, providing useful suggestions on how to become better at what we do in our respective communities,’ said Farisani.
Words: Lungile Ngubelanga
Photograph: Andile Ndlovu