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Building Leadership in Regional Economic Development

David Schmidt and panel












Regional economic development refers to the sustained, concerted actions of policymakers, businesses and communities that promote the economic health of a specific geographic region. The goal varies from region to region, but in South Africa needs to include raising living standards and creating more employment in the region.

Regional economic development is increasingly recognised as a critical area of intervention and many nations have developed a clear approach and set of regional economic development instruments and tools. In South Africa, however, this has been a neglected area that now needs to be addressed.

The Economies of Regions Learning Network, a collaborative effort between the Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and Western Cape regions, was established as a first step to address this gap. The ERLN, the GSDPP and the Technical Assistance Unit at National Treasury partnered to offer this regional economic leadership course.


The course

This course took place from 4 – 9 November 2012, in Cape Town.

The course intended to put regional economic leadership on the national agenda. It also sought to consolidate a network of regional economic leaders in Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and the Western Cape and to provide a stronger common intellectual base to support regional economic development processes in South Africa. The course facilitated dialogue between leading international and national thought leaders in the field and local public and private sector leaders, to reflect on local and global practice and how regional economic development capabilities can be built in South Africa.

Yusuf Randera-Reece and TonyElvin











What do participants gain from attending the course?

Participants engaged the following key questions:

  • How does intervening in the economy at a regional scale differ from local or national economic development?
  • How does intervening in the economy differ from other public policy areas?
  • The different approaches to regional economic development – regulatory, incentive, co-investment, infrastructure and network driven and the pros and cons of each?
  • What can be done to make political and corporate leaders do the right thing for regions?
  • How do businesses and government make genuine connections and effect change?
  • What makes an investment-friendly region and how do you optimise your regional positioning?
  • How can national planning enhance regional economic development?
  • Is there a specific leadership role for cities in regional economic development?


Upcoming courses

This course is not currently scheduled for delivery in 2016.