Commonwealth Local Government Forum

Investment fairs: putting LED into practice

22 June 2021


CLGF and partners in Southern Africa have been showcasing the outcomes of a five year programme on local economic development. Through the careful creation of investment fairs in four countries, they have been able to put into practice the valuable lessons learned and make a significant, and tangible contribution to the local economy. 


Funded by the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) for a variety of local economic development (LED) projects in Botswana, Eswatini, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe over the past five years, these activities in the respective countries have been implemented in line with overall goal of Reducing Poverty through Local Economic Development in the Commonwealth.

Successful roll-out of LED

With the overall support of CLGF, and on the ground assistance from the CLGF Southern Africa Office, all five countries have successfully rolled out LED in the following ways:


  • Development of national LED policies and frameworks to support LED;
  • development of LED guidelines to guide local authorities in the planning and implementation of LED;
  • convening LED capacity building workshops to support local and central governments in building the necessary competencies and skills;
  • development of LED Strategies to set the strategic direction of respective local authorities to achieve inclusive economic growth; and
  • supporting local authorities with the implementation of catalytic economic development projects.

Mobilising resources

Knowledge and skills are vital, but resources and investment are also important if real progress in stimulating the local economy is to be recognised, and a difference made to businesses, employment and livelihoods. To this end, and as part of the process to support the roll-out of LED, CLGF supported local authorities in Southern Africa with the mobilisation of resources to ensure that LED Strategies could be implemented. During March and April 2021, investment fairs were successfully held in Botswana, Eswatini, South Africa and Zambia to attract and stimulate financial support. 


Through the fairs, it was possible to facilitate public-private discussions through the showcasing of the catalytic projects as part of councils’ LED Strategies. The fairs highlighted key government investments, and potential investment opportunities, for the private sector, international development organisations, development funding institutions and investment institutions. They also provided an overview of support provided by the government to promote investments, for example, financial and non-financial incentives. The events mobilised industry expertise to finalise implementation modalities of the key projects and investments.

Whole society approach

CLGF’s Southern Africa Programme Manager, Ms Nyasha Simbanegavi explained: “Each of the fairs was unique in terms of content, participants and investors; but they were all so beneficial to their respective countries. They helped each one to adopt a whole society approach to achieve economic resilience and contribute towards the achievement of the SDGs.”


Following the fairs, the local authorities, with the support of their respective central governments, local government associations and CLGF, are currently engaging investors who made financial and non-financial commitments at the fairs to ensure implementation of catalytic LED projects. 


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