GSB&L Hosts Local Economic Development Winter School

Effective Local Government for Radical Economic Transformation was the theme of the recently held Regional and Local Economic Development Initiative (RLEDI) Winter School.

The two-day event, held at the Royal Hotel in Durban, was hosted by the Graduate School of Business and Leadership (GSB&L) in partnership with the KwaZulu-Natal Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs Department (EDTEA).

The event created a platform for Local Economic Development (LED) practitioners and stakeholders from the private, public and civil sectors to share best practices of enhancing local economic development (LED).

During his opening address, EDTEA’s Deputy Director of Building Capacity, Mr Patrick Mbokazi, said over the years, the winter school has trained over 500 local economic development practitioners based in key LED institutions in KZN.

‘This programme is not only about you learning from national and international industry experts but creates a platform for robust engagement and sharing of ideas and networking from each other for collaboration opportunities. We would also like to hear from you about what you would like us to include in this programme so that when we run it in future, it responds to your challenges and ensures that the knowledge you have gained capacitates you to make a difference in people’s lives,’ said Mbokazi.

The programme was divided into two sub-themes. The first was Small Town Revitalisation for Radical Economic Transformation and was facilitated by the Director of the Centre for Small Towns Regeneration, Ms Phila Xuza. The second was Concepts and Tools for Local Economic Development and was facilitated by GSB&L academics, Professor Anna Martins, Professor Shahida Cassim as well as UKZN’s School of Accounting, Economics and Finance Dean, Professor Mabutho Sibanda.

As a leading strategist, scholar and practitioner of spatial economic development in African small towns, Xuza shared insights on how small towns play an important role in South Africa’s development and how their regeneration works. The Concepts and Tools for Local Economic Development workshop aimed to provide participants with the opportunity to discover the dimensions of responsible leadership and their adjacent skills as well as the value of programmes designed by business schools to initiate a mindset of ethical leading in graduates.

Speaking from a participant’s perspective, AF Lead’s Managing Director, Dr Emil Nothnagel, said his main reason for attending the event was to understand how economic development is conducted in KZN.

‘We have just completed a 13-part TV series for KykNET on the development of small towns and working with the people and the municipalities and we will go back again in 12 months to see how far along they have progressed. It is important for us to share practical and academic knowledge in the LED sector to that we can improve the livelihoods of our communities.

Words and photograph: Thandiwe Jumo