Camdeboo Municipality (EC101), which incorporates the towns of Graaff-Reinet, Aberdeen and Nieu-Bethesda, is strategically situated as a portal to the mystical Karoo in an area renowned for its pristine natural environment, rich heritage, diverse peoples and cultures. The area (7,230 km² in extent) boasts with a number of popular tourist attractions, beautiful landscapes and a healthy climate. The town of Graaff-Reinet, 4th oldest in South-Africa and referred to as the “Gem of the Karoo”, is a hub of agri-tourism activity; it is the seat of the Municipal Council and is also the centre where the largest concentration of the population lives and works. Each of the 3 towns has its own unique dynamics and attractions that draw visitors from far and wide, some of whom have made this their home.
Due to the need for an integrated approach to economic development, the District Municipality developed and implemented a district-wide economic growth and development strategy (EGDS). The strategic objectives of the EGDS are:
- To leverage available resources to achieve investment in economic infrastructure in partnership with relevant stakeholders.
- To achieve year-on-year economic growth by developing strategic sectors in the district.
- To develop and enhance technical and life skills in line with labour market demands of the district, its strategic sectors and the region at large.
- To build appropriate internal and external institutional capacity necessary to improve integration, alignment and coordination of economic development programmes.
- To establish and sustain partnerships and regional linkages aimed at promoting economic development.
Five main pillars have been identified for stimulating sustainable economic growth and development in the Cacadu District.
These pillars are:
- Economic Infrastructure;
- Sector Development;
- Human Resources and Skills Development;
- Institutional Development; and
- Regional Linkages.
With regards to Local Economic Development (LED) and capacity building a local municipal level, the Cacadu District Municipality has made some progress. Among the initiatives undertaken on this front is a partnership with the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA). The Rural Economic Development Initiative (REDI) aims to identify and unlock the economic potential of the district by building a strong strategic relationship between municipality, local and regional stakeholders in an effort to catalyse an economic turn-around.
Chruch in Graff-Reinet
DBSA is the initiator of the programme and primary initial funder, with the Cacadu District Municipality being one of only three pilot REDI sites in the country.
The programme objectives of REDI include:
- Developing a bold, credible and robust strategy for economic turn-around and shared prosperity;
- Consolidating a portfolio of high impact strategic projects that can give effect to the strategy and that have the potential to leverage significant additional private and public investment;
- Creating confidence, sound relationships and strong social capital as a foundation for development progress. In particular, building productive relationships between established commercial and agricultural interests with government and emerging farmers and entrepreneurs is seen as critical; and
- Building solid institutional arrangements, including more capacitated municipalities, to support a sustained programme of growth and development.
LED District Support Team
The Eastern Cape Department of Economic Development and Environmental Affairs (DEDEA), the Department of Cooperate Governance and Traditional Affairs (DCGTA; formerly Local Government and Traditional Affairs), together with Municipalities in the Province, have since 2008 been leading an effort to consolidate an integrated, better-coordinated and more effective local economic development (LED) support system in the Province.
While started by the aforementioned institutional partners, the initiative has also involved the Eastern Cape Development Corporation (ECDC), the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, the Department of Social Development, as well as other public sector institutions. Towards the goal stated above, discussion among these institutional partners has, among other outcomes, conceived of a multi layered LED planning and support system that will function at various levels of the public system. The DST’s tasks mainly centre around planning facilitation and support, implementation support and communication/reporting, and may typically assume the following:
- Joint strategic planning and programme development activities.
- Participation in provincial level meetings concerned with local development planning, especially by officers from Provincial Departments and the ECDC.
- Participation in regional economic development and local level LED fora.
- Supporting District and Local Municipalities with the development of their LED Strategies and Plans, as inputs into their Integrated Development Plans (IDPs) and other longer term strategic planning processes.
Partner institutions have in principle endorsed the above outlined scope of work.
Support to Agriculture
The District Municipality has entered into a two-year agreement with the DED (German Development Service), with effect from March 2009. The agreement assigns an LED adviser to assist the municipal efforts in supporting agricultural initiatives district-wide, mainly focusing on emerging farmers. The main objectives is the development of an agricultural mentoring strategy (by March 2010), identifying and supporting viable agricultural initiatives and liaison with key stakeholders in the agricultural sector in the district and neighboring districts (Amathole, Chris Hani and Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality).
The first steps in this regard will include:
- An analysis of the agricultural sector in the District, particularly in order to assess skills within the emerging farmers communities;
- Identifing the needs for further skills development and link the emerging farmer groups with available service providers to address these needs;
- Identification and/or confirmation of viable agricultural initiatives to be supported by Cacadu.
One of the biggest challenges identified so far is to give the emerging farmers adequate support. Many of them do have basic or even advanced technical skills regarding agriculture as such but on the other hand they seem to have fundamental deficiencies in managing agricultural production as a business. Many commercial farmers and organizations, namely, National Woolgrowers Association, Chicory SA, Khula Sizwe Trust (ostriches), the South African Agri Academy (citrus, other agricultural products and marketing) are willing to support the emerging farmers but often those initiatives are not covering all the potentially suitable areas in the District.
Supporting tourism development
In support of tourism in the district, the Department of Economic Development provides support to local municipalities to promote tourism in their respective areas and generally works towards tourism destination development, management and marketing.
The Tourism Master Plan (TMP) of the Cacadu District Municipality was completed in 2009, mapping out the strategic direction for tourism growth and development in the area. The TMP is the culmination of the development or review of Responsible Tourism Sector Plans in each of the nine local municipalities located within the district.
One of the first steps in the development of the tourism industry in the district is the configuration of appropriate institutional arrangements. The TMP recommends the establishment of local tourism organisations (LTO) in each of the nine local municipalities. A LTO is a partnership between local government and the private sector that seeks to grow the tourism industry by increasing the number of tourists and in doing so increases the economic benefits of tourism to the region as a whole. To date LTOs have been established in Baviaans, Camdeboo, Blue Crane Route, Kouga, Ikwezi and Makana Local Municipalities. LTOs in Sundays River Valley, Ndlambe and Kou-kamma Local Municipalities are in the process of being established.
The establishment of LTOs not only creates a platform for dialogue between the district and local municipalities and tourism stakeholders in each area, but also puts in place steering teams for the implementation of tourism-related programmes and projects in each local municipality.
The following are service delivery highlights (since 2006) of the Department of Economic Development of the Cacadu District Municipality:
- Established 3 SEDA satellite offices in the District, namely, Grahamstown in Makana Local Municipality to service Sunday’s River and Ndlambe Local Municipalities; Graaff-Reinet in Camdeboo Local Municipality to service Ikhwezi, Blue Crane Route and Baviaans Local Municipalities; and Humansdorp in Kouga Local Municipality to service Kouga and Kou-Kamma Local Municipalities.
- Purchase of mobile unit for SEDA.
LED projects in local municipalities which the District Municipality has implemented or assisted with include:
- Sundays River Hawkers facility;
- Craft enterprise in Vondeling;
- Honeybush Tea project in Misgund;
- Misty Morning agricultural project in Woodlands;
- 2 Car Wash projects in Makana and Blue Crane Route;
- Hosting of International Mohair Summit in Ikwezi jointly with other partners;
- Angora goat project in Hardwood farm;
- Chicory project in Ndlambe;
- Longmore Flower Project; and
- Essential Oils project in Ndlambe.
Source: Cacadu DM website & IDP 2007 - 2012.