Commonwealth Local Government Forum

Southern Africa \ Local economic development

Local economic development is a central part of developmental local government. It is a process which brings together different partners in the local area to work together to harness resources for sustainable economic growth and poverty reduction. Local economic development is increasingly being seen as a key function of local government and a means of ensuring that local and regional authorities can address the priority needs of local citizens in a sustainable way. There is no single model for LED; approaches reflect local needs and circumstances. Themes include local economic development guides, tourism, support to small, medium and micro enterprises, microfinance and credit and public-private partnership.


  • Local economic development guides
  • Support to small, medium and micro enterprises
  • Microfinance and credit
  • Tourism
  • Extractive Industries
  • Workforce skills
  • Trade


Institutional Collective Action During COVID-19: Lessons in Local Economic Development

At this point, little is known about local government responses to the economic crisis caused by COVID-19. This crisis is happening on Main Streets around the nation. This article examines how some local governments are taking collective action in partnership with other governments as well as with organizations at the local and regional levels. What is unique is that collective action is rare as it relates to traditional economic development practices, yet it is occurring and leading to offerings of multi-institutional grants and low-interest loans. However, some newer supply- and demand-side actions are the result of a lack of resources and need for expediency. Practitioners can learn about the collaborative economic development actions that governments are taking and how these partnerships can stabilize their local economies.

Author: Darrin H. E. Wilson Brad A. M. Johnson Eric Stokan Michael Overton Publisher: Wiley Online Library Publication year: 2020

Cooperatives as strategies of local economic development in the City of Tshwane

The purpose of this article was to examine the implementation of cooperatives as strategies of local economic development in selected communities of the City of Tshwane in Gauteng Province of South Africa. The article employs the case study approach derived from an interpretive paradigm where 25 semi-structured interviews were purposively administered to cooperative members, project managers, and community development workers among the three selected cooperatives in the City of Tshwane. The qualitative thematic analysis was used to analyse the data. The findings of the article revealed various factors affecting the success of cooperatives as strategies local economic development. These include poverty, unemployment, limited government funding, limited access to ready markets, lack of expertise, lack of monitoring and evaluation of cooperative projects. Implications of the article indicate that these challenges hinder the City’s efforts to address the triple challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality in communities. The article recommends the government to foster Multi-Stakeholder Partnerships (MSPs) with the private sector and instill creativity and innovation among communities which is crucial for the sustainability of cooperatives.

Author: C. Hofisi, E. Shava Publisher: Sabinet African Journals Publication year: 2020

Linking sustainable local economic development to a market-based carbon control regime : carbon restoration projects in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa using Portulacaria afra

Orientation: There is growing interest in how international climate change mitigation and adaptation programmes play out at the local level. Research purpose: The aim of this study was to investigate the link between land restoration and carbon sequestration projects in the Eastern Cape, using Portulacaria afra (Spekboom), and market-based approaches to address global climate change. Motivation for the study: The Eastern Cape is one of the poorest areas of the country, and there is great emphasis on the establishment of economically and environmentally sustainable, as well as socially just, local economic development (LED) initiatives. However, LED projects are often not sustainable in the long run. Research design, approach and method: A mixed methods design, using data on international carbon markets, and key stakeholder interviews with those involved in LED land restoration programmes, was used. Qualitative results were analysed using Connelly’s (2007) framework for sustainable development, which included indicators for environmental protection, economic growth and social justice. Main findings: Stakeholders perceive the long-term financial sustainability of such projects as resting on their ability to earn carbon credits, despite the current very low international carbon prices. Practical/managerial implications: The long-term success of carbon-based restoration projects may depend on the establishment of a local carbon market or continued public funding. Upfront costs of land restoration projects are high and return only starts years later. Contribution/value-add: The establishment of a South African carbon market that helps carbon sequestration LED projects to meet the technical and administrative requirements needed to sell carbon credits will be an important determinant of their sustainability.

Author: Jeanette Snowball, James Polak Publisher: Sabinet African Journals Publication year: 2019

Heritage Tourism as a Strategy for the Local Economic Development in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

This study was conducted at KwaBulawayo (eShowe) and Ondini (Ulundi) Cultural Centres, which are located in the north coast of KwaZulu-Natal Province, South Africa. The study was conducted to explore the heritage tourism economic potential of these sites. This study theorised heritage tourism within the shift from an industrial to a post-industrial mode of production and consumption research framework. A descriptive design was used in the study, and a qualitative mode of enquiry was adopted during the collection, analysis, and interpretation of data. The population of the study comprised of the municipal officials, cultural centres’ personnel, community leaders, and households of the nearer communities. The municipal officials and cultural centres’ personnel were sampled through a purposive sampling technique, while community leaders and households were sampled through a convenience sampling technique. Survey questionnaires were used to collect data from a sample of 36 respondents through face-to-face interviews. The data were analysed through content analysis. The findings showed that the communities of the study areas, generally, understood heritage tourism within the context of use value, that is, as containers of cultural, historical, and traditional knowledge, rather than exchange value, as market commodities. This study further found that the branding of the sites revolved around the Zulu Kings, Shaka and Cetshwayo, which seemed not to draw tourists except for those fond of history. Hence, the study recommended that the sites be marketed and rebranded to enhance their full tourism potentials. As heritage tourism has become a major attraction the world over, this study further recommended that communities needed to be conscientised about the development value of heritage tourism and ideally participate therein. Related further research would focus on mechanisms to enhance community participation in tourism development, especially in such rural settings.

Author: Thembinkosi Keith Gumede Publisher: African Journal of Hospitality, Tourism and Leisure Publication year: 2019

The Ecosystem Perspective of Entrepreneurship in Local Economic Development

Pro-growth Local Economic Development is an approach recommended to developing countries fighting to eradicate widespread poverty in Southern Africa. Entrepreneurship is a key construct under pro-growth approaches. However, other studies found that its effectiveness is dependent on the stage of economic development of a country such that entrepreneurship does not effect economic growth in low income countries but in high income countries. Therefore the factors influencing productive entrepreneurships have been of interest to scholars to inform policy for the development of entrepreneurship which remains a key area of focus in national development plans of many developing countries. An analysis of literature was conducted on the ecosystem perspective of entrepreneurship and it revealed that entrepreneurship can influence economic growth when the requisite key resources and key stakeholders' functionality are developed in a balanced way. Local territories that adopt pro-growth approaches require: effective political, legal, regulatory and economic frameworks that enable higher pay offs from entrepreneurship; policies for the development of financial, physical, human, knowledge and natural capital as well as policies for attracting or supporting key stakeholders mainly the ambitious entrepreneurial class, who are able to develop productive growth oriented entrepreneurships. However, the ecosystem perspective focuses on exogenous factors to the concept. Entrepreneurship is a multidimensional concept with varying perspectives, activities and outputs that influence outcomes and impacts. The effects of this multidimensionality on the performance of entrepreneurship in low income and high income countries remain an area not covered in literature. 

Author: Charles Mwatsika Publisher: Journal of Economics and Sustainable Development Publication year: 2018

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