NWU Vaal LED Warriors to turn the tables on poverty and unemployment

Annette Willemse -- Tue, 01/26/2016 - 16:11

NWU Vaal LED Warriors to turn the tables on poverty and unemployment 

It is said that without knowledge, skill cannot be focused. Without skill, strength cannot be brought to bear and without strength, knowledge cannot be applied. With this in mind the Applied Local Economic Development (AppLED) research group on the Vaal Triangle Campus of the North-West University (NWU Vaal), joined forces with other institutions to constitute the Vaal LED Warriors. 

This forum – which recently hosted its second general discussion workshop, will function as a pressure group with the main purpose of intensively engaging all stakeholders – including local and national government, to provide additional and continued support to the Vaal Triangle region.

The Vaal LED Warriors are divided into the following sub-units:

  • Institutional development, governance, service delivery and infrastructure: Dr Danie Meyer
  • Township revitalization: Mr Eddie de Beer
  • Entrepreneurship and small business development: Mr Klippies Kritzinger
  • Tourism, environment and the Vaal River: Mr Neo Molope
  • Industrial development, manufacturing and agro-processing: Mr William Mphuting
  • Agriculture and agro-processing: Mr Mosa Mokhaneli

 

According to Dr Danie Meyer who heads-up the AppLED research group – and who is also a founding member of the Vaal LED Warriors, the forum furthermore aims to focus on the following important aspects:

  • Improve local linkages and campaign for the support of local businesses.
  • Work towards tabling a comprehensive development plan for the utilization of the Vaal River and the region’s water resources.
  • Improve the image of the Vaal Triangle region – especially with regards to possible investors.
  • Develop and vest agriculture in the region.
  • Create a unique identity for the region based on the shared vision of a “Golden Vaal Triangle”.
  • Support local export promotion and import substitution interventions.
Dr Danie Meyer

The Vaal Triangle as the preferred economic future of the region

According to Meyer the vision of the forum is to vest the Vaal Triangle region as an economic powerhouse in the Gauteng province. “We are working towards the creation of a diversified local economy, which is focused on the creation of jobs and improvement of the quality of life of residents. All economic activities should therefore include pro-development and pro-poor programmes which are balanced and integrated,” says Meyer.

The Vaal Triangle scorecard

During the first discussion workshop the forum identified several strategic strengths and opportunities. These included, amongst others, a relative compact urban structure; an already established network of nodes; a wide range of quality community facilities; improved partnership formation; cross boundary integration and collaboration as well as an improved diversification of the economy.

On the flip side of the coin, several weaknesses and possible threats were also identified. These included, amongst others, a lack in the capacity of service delivery; political instability; limited public transport systems; high levels of pollution; a rapid industrial decline and high levels of unemployment.

Meyer explains that although the scales are tipped towards the negative (especially with regards to the negative global impact on the steel industry), the region has many comparative advantages which need to be optimized and marketed. Some of these advantages include a strategic locality in close proximity of the Johannesburg and East Rand Economic functional regions; the Vaal River – which is internationally known; the specialization and agglomeration of advantages of the different chemical, plastic and petroleum industries, as well as the region’s rich historic legacy.

More about AppLED

According to Meyer, a group such as AppLED has the potential to impact the region in several ways, including the development of job creation initiatives, benchmarking the acceptable levels of service delivery, offer support to SMME  (Small, Medium and Micro-sized Enterprises )development as well as the provision of statistical data in terms of poverty and quality of life analysis. “LED is everybody’s business, and it is important for us to educate and mobilise local LED champions,” explains Meyer and adds that municipal structures have a Constitutional mandate to promote LED in terms of Section 153. Within this context, LED can be defined as the process through which a community’s standard of living can be preserved and increased through a process of human and physical development that is based on principles of equity and sustainability.

For more information, please send an e-mail to Daniel.meyer@nwu.ac.za