Local economics development : a critique of the African experience
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About 30–40 years ago, Local Economic Development (LED) was conceptualised in developing countries and is still gaining momentum in these countries. It has been practised as a development strategy in various forms, more particularly in developed countries. In the African context, LED has been incorporated with local or community development, and these poverty alleviation strategies have focused on social goals over the short term, rather than economic goals that are more broad-based and longer term. Particular emphasis has been placed on survival strategies and remedial measures to address social problems, as opposed to sustainable development over the longer term. Globally, LED strategies seek to enhance economic growth. In the African context, the approach adopted includes the former, but prioritises poverty alleviation and greater inclusion of previously excluded groups. African countries that develop a positive linkage between growth and poverty alleviation are the exception rather than the rule. Only countries that are reasonably well developed, diversified, globally linked and have an urbanised economy would fall into this category; South Africa has managed to bridge this divide and is a rare exception. The African Continent as a whole is experiencing distinct challenges in implementing LED, namely a lack of human resources, and limited financial, institutional and technical capacity. Furthermore, the development environment is not very enabling and this has also proved to be a stumbling block in facilitating LED in many countries.
Reddy, P. and Wallis, M. 2012. Local Economic Development: A Critique of the African Experience. Politeia 31(2): 70-88.