The success of the local and regional economic development initiatives to a greater extent depends on the support they receive for gradual progression to become sustainable initiatives.
The injection of about R540.000 at Baviaans Municipality in Cacadu Region by the Department of Economic Development, Environmental Affairs and Tourism (DEDEAT) is a true reflection of initiatives that are driven by the community using resources at their disposal to make a living. Situated in the world heritage site, the project is in the tourism sector and is mainly run by the youth to manufacture high quality ethnic jewellery.
Visiting the project as part of the Executive Council (EXCO) outreach in Cacadu region, the DEDEAT MEC Mcebisi Jonas commented on the potential of the project and how it can gain international recognition due to the quality of its products. Jonas said: “the Baviaans craft project bears more symbolism with the Indian craft and efforts should be made to revive the ties with Indian crafters for improvement of product design and skills development”.
Local and regional economic development (LRED) initiatives can be used as an economic hub for promoting entrepreneurship and also as a platform to promote creativity, labour productivity and innovation due to their ingenious nature. Cultural aspects also feature prominently as a way of recognising the unique local futures and the need to restore such aspects is imperative.
“The unique character of Karoo towns, with its vibrant integration of cultures through poetry and local, indigenous music and the like serves as a strong selling-point for local economic development”, says Jonas.
The need to forge partnerships for realising potential economic development initiatives to increase local competitiveness, sustainable job creation, poverty alleviation remains a priority focus and a need to look at social problems should be emphasised.
“The problems facing the education sector need major community involvement to resolve them. Each household should encourage children to go to school as statics reveal that the longer children are kept in school the better they become and contribute meaningfully in the economy through the knowledge they acquire,” said Jonas.
Jonas further suggested the collaboration between Baviaans and Ikhwezi municipalities to establish all year - round key attractions to the tourists as this will ensure longer stay of visitors with prospects for economic spin – offs.
The Baviaanskloof craft shop was built from scratch using renewable materials and has positively benefited 47 crafters from the surrounding communities. The beneficiaries have also enrolled for a one-year training programme in arts and crafts training after receiving funds from DEDEAT in 2011. The craft shop now serves as a platform for local crafters to sell their products