The uMgungundlovu Economic Development Agency (Umeda) is working to inject serious development into the district’s economy, the agency said on Sunday.
The agency, established in 2016, is the entity of the uMgungundlovu District Municipality with the mandate to implement and promote the district’s economic development policies in the areas of economic production, investment and trade.
Agency CEO Michael Newton said the mandate includes accelerating the implementation of strategic and catalytic economic development projects within the district municipality.
“We also strive to realize and optimize economic infrastructure projects, as well as to aggregate, develop and promote investment opportunities for selected sectors.
“Umeda has supported emerging farmers in the seven local municipalities of uMgungundlovu district through radical agrarian socio-economic transformation. These farmers were mentored for 16 months on registering and setting up cooperatives, production plans, market access, pricing and plantations.
“Production plans have been developed with farmers to align with private and public sector market demands during the 2019, 2020 and 2021 planting seasons.
“We have approached the seven local municipalities to help with unused buildings to be developed as agricultural centres, and so far three of them have been developed in the local municipalities of uMshwati, Richmond and Mkhambathini. “
He said the agency has developed catalyst projects to accelerate economic growth in the district.
These projects include the Howick Falls Neighborhood Upgrade and the Midlands Capture Site Film Studio, among others.
The Howick Falls project provides a range of semi-formal micro-enterprise sites, primarily for people from previously disadvantaged clusters and formal businesses, alongside access roads to and from the falls, which include a museum, historic buildings, a church and a cemetery, historical markers of the Anglo-Zulu war and the 1st and 2nd world war.
uMgungundlovu district spokesman Brian Zuma said the agency is an entity of the municipality and was established with the aim of helping with economic development and job creation.
It has its own board of directors, its general manager and the municipality plays an oversight role as a supervisory body.
Since its creation, it has encountered difficulties, such as the inability to obtain funding for the projects it has to undertake.
The agency is one of 10 in the province and part of a nationwide family of more than 30 people.