The SA LED Network is dedicated to the promotion of good practice and dialogue in local economic development and aims at networking and connecting practitioners. We strive to improve the understanding of local economies by promoting discussion and exchange between the various kinds of professionals and to build a single body of knowledge around local economic development.
Since its inception in 2001, the SA LED Network has grown from an idea to a functioning network with a national, provincial and local footprint, a management structure, a growing membership base, regular hosted events and an innovative knowledge and information sharing portal www.led.co.za.
The SA LED Network is a free and open service for all interested LED practitioners.
How it all began
The SA LED Network has its roots in an informal meeting that followed a LED conference in Welkom / Free State in 2001. In 2003, when the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH (then German Technical Cooperation - GTZ) started their LED project, technical support was provided in order to establish the SA LED Network. Amongst others, GIZ funded an inception meeting of the proposed network in November 2004 and appointed a working group. The working group took responsibility for establishing and registering a Trust and initiated the design of a website.
Since October 2007, GIZ (then German Development Service - DED) supported the network by availing personnel and technical support to the SA LED Network. From the beginning of November 2008, the value offerings and services of the SA LED Network have been steadily improved. Amongst others, a newsletter has been designed and frequent newsflashes are sent out since in order to inform the members about latest events, jobs and documents that have been uploaded to the website.
On 01 February 2010, the SA LED Network went into a partnership with the South African Local Government Association (SALGA) and was hosted under the Economic Development & Planning Directorate at the national offices in Pretoria.
The Website (which was initially on a paid membership base) was opened to the public on 01 March 2010 to let all LED practitioners benefit from the knowledge sharing and communication around LED issues & topics. On the same day the network had 482 members.
In February 2011, the SA LED Network launched its new website, offering a brand new design and a lot of expanded functions to its members such as, an advanced search method for all the content in our online library (offering about a 1 000 documents), a new section for open LED discussions as well as a section for each municipality giving them the opportunity to present their approaches and projects in LED as well as related content.
Since March 2010, the SA LED Network has produced a total of over 20 Case Studies that are aimed at showcasing municipalities' and development agencies' lessons learnt and approaches towards LED.
In September 2011, the SA LED Network in cooperation with SALGA and other partners (CoGTA, DTI, GIZ, IDC, DBSA, LEDNA, Netsafrica, CLGF, EU, AHI and UJ) compiled a Councillor's Guide to Local Economic Development (LED) in South Africa in order to inform the newly elected councillors. The guide generates and gathers information and knowledge from a wide range of sources and organisations in order to give an overview of the current LED landscape in South Africa.
In 2011, the SA LED Network in cooperation with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) furthermore developed a Community of Practice (CoP) for economic development agencies. The CoP is a knowledge sharing and networking platform for IDC-funded development agencies and was launched in May 2012 in Hluhluwe, KwaZulu-Natal.
A second Community of Practice was established in cooperation with the Technical Assistance Unit (TAU) of National Treasury, aimed at bringing economic development professionals from the national government departments, metropolitan governments and economic agencies together in order to form the Economies of Regions Learning Network (ERLN).
In 2014, the led.co.za website reached over 7,000 registered members.