Municipality: Laingsburg Local Municipality

Address

Van Rebeeck Street
6900 Laingsburg , Western Cape
South Africa
Phone: 023-551-1019
Fax: 023-551-1019
Western Cape ZA

Description

Laingsburg Municipality is a Category B Municipality in the Central Karoo District.  It is the smallest in the Western Cape Province and in South Africa. Laingsburg is the entry point to the Central Karoo District if driving from Cape Town along N1 to Johannesburg.

About 15.85% of the local labour force are unemployed. The 2001 census data shows that 54.7% of the total populations in Laingsburg earn less than the minimum income level of roughly R 2,400 per month for a household of minimum of six people per household, as compared to the Provincial 26% only. Labour force participation declined between 2001 and 2006, which led to increased unemployment and therefore increased poverty levels in this period.
 
The causes for the increased poverty levels in Laingsburg are multifaceted. The economy of Laingsburg has been affected by a decline in the employment opportunities within Laingsburg. The main employing sector - agriculture reduced its work force because farms were changing from sheep farming to game farming, which required far less labour intensive methods. Community, social & personal services and finance & business sectors recorded negative growth levels due to the fact that most of the local people are not skilled enough to adapt to the changing economy and therefore are not employable. The other major cause for low income in the area is insufficient self employment. Most people are dependent on formal employment in different sectors due to the lack of appropriate technical and entrepreneurial skills. The whole of the district does not have a technical school or business Incubators. 
 
Although it is assumed that most of the town’s youth are migrating to the big cities, attaining job opportunities and finding meaningful employment is very difficult. Many people who migrate to the cities do maintain very little contact with the family back home. In this case, very little or if any, remittances comes back to the town. In most cases those who have made it detach themselves from Laingsburg with exceptions of short visits once in a long while and come back only when they no longer have a work and are not able to work.
 
The town has specific problems in accessing financial resources so that even the existing businesses are failing to expand due to difficulties in acquiring finances through the banking system. This is due to the fact that most of the loan decisions are not made here in Laingsburg but in Cape Town where decision makers have very little knowledge of specific needs in the town. It is even worse for the majority of the people who want to go into self employment; who have no collateral, are often blacklisted and in most cases very poor.

Critical infrastructure

Laingsburg town was established in the 1800s as a service centre for rural agriculture and rail. The N1 from Cape Town to Johannesburg bisects the town and helps generate a significant portion of the town’s income. Laingsburg town has a fair number of community services including 3 nursery schools, 2 public schools, a 22 bed hospital as well as a multi-purpose centre accommodating a range of national government satellite offices. Matjiesfontein capitalises on its historic railway town character through a well-established hotel.

Strengths

The tourism hospitality industry is one of the sectors where the majority of people, particularly the black community have not taken advantage of. SMME’s and eco-tourism has a great potential for people to participate. The whole Laingsburg area has many heritage sites.  Matjiesfontein Village is known for the hotel and hosts about 10 000 visitors per year. Most of these being one day or overnight visitors.  The challenge is to attract them to stay longer and be linked to Laingsburg and community tourism. This would require the development of the skills in the hospitality industry. 
 
The agriculture sector has been the most prominent sector and this will not change drastically in the next five years. However in terms of employment, the agricultural potential, lie more on Agri-processing and Agri-businesses. Most of the agricultural products are sold in their raw form hence, there is potential for value adding locally. Given the experience acquired with hydroponics in Beaufort West, the area has potential in the production of high valued crops with high technology.

Weaknesses

A large portion of economic activity, especially in the transport sector has been redirected to Cape Town and George, as a result of technological advances in communication and road transport. Low population density, distance from markets and an arid climate translate into fewer development opportunities than in other parts of the Western Cape. A significant proportion of the local community remains marginalised, with limited employment and wealth creation opportunities. Key economic development challenges are:

  • Imbalanced economic structure through agriculture as the single dominant economic sector
  • Lack of employment opportunities and low self-employment
  • Skills shortages and low levels of literacy
  • Poverty and substance abuse
  • Spatial and racial segregation