Rural industrialisation is the future of Africa and should be central to South Africa’s planning
Eastern Cape Rural Development Agency Presentation

Rural industrialisation is the future of Africa and should be central to South Africa’s planning

Thozamile Gwanya the CEO of Eastern Cape Rural Development Agency (ECRDA) commented around the importance of rural development when he delivered an inspiring speech at the 4th Annual Africa enterprise development & entrepreneurship investment agenda supported by Transnet in Sandton on the 21st and 22nd of June. The ECRDA also partnered and sponsored the event.

Thozamile Gwanya unleashed the strategy of the ECRDA regarding rural industrialisation which has become part of the DNA of the organisation through its Enterprise Development programmes that they are running in the region. Rural development is the future of Africa – Yes urbanisation may have worked in other economies such as Europe, USA, China and Japan, however there is always a sentimental value placed to rural homes by Africans. Although they may migrate to urban areas, they still invest in rural areas; there is thus a need to focus more on rural development and industrialising these economies.

“The face of development in Africa is different yet we replicate models that have worked for other economies which may not work for Africa” – Thozamile Gwanya commented.

Following his comments Thozamile stated that most of the budgets are spent in urban development and rural development is often neglected. ECRDA’s defy all odds and has taken a simple approach as at the heart of its programmes is the furthering of economic potential for rural communities to use their land assets for improved income and wealth generation.

Thozamile Gwanya challenged the traditional thinking of rural development which is positioned at the lower end of development planning and stated that it should be a priority for Africa.  It is through this realisation that the ECRDA implemented the Rural Enterprise Development Hubs (RED Hubs) a programme with several projects in the Eastern Cape which saw the establishment of several cooperatives in the agricultural sector through partnerships with the private sector.

ECRDAs RED Hub concept prioritises the village as the centre of operation. The RED Hub concept has at its core a Mega Farm approach which emphasises the establishment of viable economic units which entail pulling together fallow land in rural communities and turning these dormant assets into productive clusters. Combined these hubs occupy 3754 hectares of land in three regions; Chris Hani,O.R Tambo and Alfren Nzo Municipalities.

"It is an honour to present at the 4th Annual Africa enterprise development & Entrepreneurship investment agenda supported by Transnet and we are looking forward to discussions with investors around driving rural development objectives" he adds.

Thozamile Gwanya joined other renowned speakers including Makhosazana Masilela – the Executive Manager at Transnet, Teresiah Simelane – The General Manager of Enterprise Development at The Innovation Hub, Sifiso Ndwandwe – CEO of Catalyst for Growth, Dionne Kerr – CEO of Siyakha Implementation Partners and Jayshree Naidoo the Head of Standard Bank Business Incubator.

“The discussions were relevant and vital and centred on the critical issues relating to economic growth. Not only is rural development important but it is critical if we are to respond to future economic challenges. It is imperative to invest in our rural economies and not only in the agricultural sector but also in energy, technology and infrastructure development” said Calisto Kondowe, the Senior Research Analyst at Global Invest Group – an advisory company that focusses on economic growth and development. “Over the years, Global Invest Group’s forums have become largest gathering of decision-makers, investors, stakeholders, and policy makers.