Local development capacity strengthened
The Local Economic Development Agency (LEDA) in the Ministry of Regional and Local Government, Housing and Rural Development with the support of the German Technical Cooperation (GIZ) acting on behalf of the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development hosted the fourth LED Pathfinder conference from 16t to 19 April in Windhoek.
In an overview of the conference outcomes, the Ministry of Regional and Local Government, Housing and Rural Development, said “In recent years, Local Economic Development (LED) has become a prominent element in Namibia’s development strategies. Taking into consideration the Vision 2030 and the National Development Plans (NDPs), local authorities and regional councils will bear greater responsibly to create an enabling environment for the economy to prosper, to generate employment and ultimately to improve the quality of life in the locality.”
According to the ministry, the conference was held to build capacity among the chief regional officers, chief executive officers, local economic development officers as well as NGOs involved in local economic development with national and international experiences and state-of-the-art methodologies.
The conference discussions centered on attracting and supporting businesses, stimulating an enabling environment for economic development and business retention and expansion.
For the first time in the history of the conference, it was resolved that the participants get actively involved in the implementation of the conference resolutions. Hence, the participants were accorded an opportunity to identify key challenges encountered in attracting businesses. Some of these challenges are, lack of serviced land, inadequate infrastructure, lack of funding, poor marketing and lack of business support services. The delegates resolved that local authorities and Regional Councils with the assistance of the Local Economic Development Agency (LEDA) should address these challenges.
The conference further looked at various localities and how they would support local businesses to boost investment and economic development. Bethanie, Kamanjab, Karibib, Khorixas, Mariental, Okahao, Okakarara, Omuthiya, Oshikuku, Outapi, Usakos, Rundu, together with Hardap Regional Council and Omaheke Regional Council have identified key challenges and pledged to proactively work on them. They agreed to report back at the next conference in 2014.
Three more local authorities of Grootfontein, Helao Nafidi and Omararu indicated that they are faced with problems of declining economies and are finding it hard to retain existing business. The conference explored various means through which these individual towns can retain and expand businesses. The challenges identified and recommendations given will be used to solve the predicament facing these towns. These three local authorities are expected to report back on the progress at the next conference.