Limpopo Economic Development Agency (Leda) took the opportunity to inform stakeholders and prospective entrepreneurs about the local economy and Leda’s involvement during a breakfast session at Sun Meropa last Wednesday.
Guests included representatives from provincial departments, organised business, the informal business and financial sectors and local entrepreneurs and ample time was allowed for networking. Small businesses showcased their merchandise and owners were present to share their business prospects.
Leda Chief Executive Officer, Ben Mphahlele took the podium and said that although Limpopo is the second smallest economy in the country, Leda made impressive strides towards the development of the province’s economy by building social capacity at specific geographical areas. “The key groups involved here are the national, provincial and local government sectors, research institutions, entrepreneurs and investors and tertiary and financial institutions. They should share a common vision towards development and should act upon their respective mandates and make things work,” Mphahlele said.
Mphahlele explained that the targeted areas for investment in the province are mining, agriculture, manufacturing, tourism and the green economy and said that agriculture plays a major role in the province’s economy. “Limpopo produces 66% of the country’s mangos, 65% of its paw-paws, 36% of its tea and 19% to 29% of its litchis and bananas. The province also produces 61% of the country’s avocados, 75% of its tomatoes, 300 000 tons of potatoes and 42% of its citrus and 53% of its grapefruit,” Mphahlele reported.
“Limpopo contributed 7,2% to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) during 2015 and it is evident that our local economy is growing on a yearly basis,” Mphahlele said.
There are a number of investment incentives offered by the Department of Trade and Industry through Leda which include Business Process Services, Capital Projects Feasibility, the Critical Infrastructure Programme, the Enterprise Investment Programme and the Tourism Support Programme, Mphahlele added.
Mphahlele referred to Leda’s motto, being ‘Rooted in the future’ and said that it is the agency’s aim to be instrumental in growing the province’s manufacturing sector by 6,8% during the next year. “We want to double the size of the agricultural sector to R11,6 billion and increase the revenue of Great North Transport and Risima to R1,3 billion and R3,5 million respectively,” Mphahlele said and added that the implementation of broadband coverage for at least Capricorn district will also be one of the objectives.
Mphahlele emphasised that Limpopo provides easy access to Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) and the South African Development Community (SADC) of 330 million people and has the potential to become a major role player in this regard and further stressed that it was crucial and urgent that organised business and entrepreneurs in general be sensitised and responsive to various economic development policy think tanks in the province and thus influence the crafting of how they become beneficiaries. He explained that it was important for business to be informed of and prepared to reap maximum benefits from Leda driven and facilitated mega projects, through, among other interventions, cross pollination of skills and consortia approach to investment targeting. Leda, concluded Mphahlele, was keen to see businesses in the province anticipate opportunities from pipeline and live projects, by ensuring structural and business process readiness on its part.
Story and photos: BARRY VILJOEN