Exploring innovation platforms for local economic development in KwaZulu-Natal: an analysis of the Ugu South Coast Development Agency.
Challenges facing economies around the world have compounded the societal problems that have plagued communities. Developing economies have been advocating for local economic development as a solution to addressing some of the scourges brought about by stagnated growth. The negative impact of poverty, inequality and unemployment have been more entrenched in the less-developed world economies in the Global South. South Africa’s society has not been spared from the brunt of the stunted growth. It is one of the most unequal societies in the world with the unemployment rate now at 32.6% (Statistics South Africa [StatsSA], 2021). The study argues that innovative endeavours in Local Economic Development Agencies (LEDAs) ought to play a significant role in the advancement of localised economic development. The study, hence, sought to explore the extent to which innovation as a concept is employed across the entire operational spectrum of the Ugu South Coast Development Agency (USCDA). By understanding the LEDAs’ operational model, the research questions were answered. The central argument was that the USCDA needs to adopt innovation concepts in strategy formulation, fundraising, project implementation and in its monitoring and evaluation activities. Qualitative research methods were adopted in exploring the extent to which innovative endeavours are employed in the USCDA. In order to realise the research objectives, a combination of methods was applied in order to explore the South African context of LEDAs. This included the comprehensive review of literature on innovation for LED, analysing policy and legislative frameworks for LEDAs in South Africa and the examination of survey material and the application of case study methodology to intensify the understanding of USCDA. The research report was able to highlight the challenges faced by the USCDA in carrying out its mandate as seen by the agency’s leadership and other key stakeholders. The study revealed that inadequate funding, lack of capacity, lack of strategic direction, lack of innovative endeavour, and limited collaboration amongst all the relevant stakeholders were the fundamental challenges faced. The study concluded that, there is a need for the government in general and local municipalities to review the operational modal of USCDA and to clearly articulate its levels of autonomy and outline a sustainable funding mechanism for its operations. Title: Exploring innovation platforms for Local Economic Development in KwaZulu- Natal: An analysis of the Ugu District Municipality South Coast Development Agency.
Masters Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.