A BOLD plan to stem the sluggish economic growth experienced by the Eastern Cape’s largest district municipality, Cacadu, proposes a host of interventions including financially boosting the region’s agricultural sector and improving broadband internet access.
The draft socio-economic and enterprise development strategy was presented to a full Cacadu council yesterday.
The Development Bank of South Africa (DBSA) is a major funder of the project that aims to bolster agricultural development and skills in a region with a 34% unemployment rate.
The seven-point plan includes:
ıBoosting agriculture either by launching projects to help farmers increase their output, or increasing national and international demand – through marketing – for Cacadu-specific agricultural products such as pineapples, wool and mohair;
ıInvesting in and protecting the region’s biodiversity and natural resources, including its wetlands, forests and rivers;
ıPromoting broad-based black economic empowerment and supporting small, medium and micro enterprises as well as supporting the development of cooperatives;
ıImproving basic education through inter- schools partnerships to share skills and resources, developing training programmes in various sectors, such as agriculture, and "creating education opportunities linked to work opportunities”;
ıImproving transport, water and energy infrastructure, which includes "developing rural broadband and mobile phone connectivity”;
ıUrban regeneration projects focused on upgrading town CBDs and historic districts; and
ıImproving inter-governmental partnerships and "creating a positive image of the region among the public and private investors”.
Makana local municipality councillor Julie Wells (ANC) said the municipality had already begun projects aimed at urban regeneration.
Ikwezi councillor Sizwe Mngwevu (ANC) called for a meeting between Cacadu councillors and the provincial Transport MEC, Thandiswa Marawu, to fast-track road maintenance.
But questions were raised about how such plans would be implemented.
"This is a very noble document with good ideas, but who’s going to carry it out hasn’t been articulated,” said Makana councillor Les Reynolds (DA).
Cacadu director of economic development Phumelelo Kate said while the district would drive the various projects once they had been articulated, the yet-to-be-formed Cacadu Development Agency could perhaps drive specific projects within various local municipalities.