Limpopo Development Collaborative Platform

On 26 October the Business Development and International Liaison unit hosted representatives of the Limpopo Development Collaborative Platform (LDCP) to discuss how HSRC researchers might be able to contribute towards this substantial research initiative. Stakeholders in this collaborative platform include the Limpopo Provincial Government, private corporations and research agencies.

Anglo American Platinum and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) represented the LDCP. Three HSRC units (EDP, DGSD and RIA) participated in this meeting with their inputs, taken together, illustrating the impressive footprint of their diverse research initiatives in Limpopo. Dr Glenda Kruss, Executive Director of CESTII, chaired this exploratory conversation to consider how to bring social scientists and M&E experts into the LDCP initiative.

The presentation of Anglo American Platinum sketched an informative picture of the rationale for the LDCP, highlighting its adaptive organisational and governance structure and what is known from feasibility studies undertaken to construct a socio-economic profile of Limpopo. The conceptual approach which underpins the LDCP is an integrated multisector and multi-stakeholder model of economic restructuring, called a Collective Impact Model. Through the use of this model it was possible to identify the engines that might catalyse and sustain socio-economic development in Limpopo beyond its historical dependency on mineral extraction.

Quantitative information and maps in the Anglo-CSIR overview, assembled from different datasets, shed light on economic and ecological determinants of development but not the social, institutional and quality of life complexities of such multidimensional change. It is urgent to fill this social impact gap with reliable evidence about socio-cultural and psycho-social dynamics in rural Limpopo. The HSRC is ideally positioned to fill this information gap.

The CSIR and HSRC began conversations to cooperate on this initiative in mid-2016, leading to a renewal of the CSIR-HSRC Memorandum of Understanding. To concretise this cooperation, the two science councils have agreed on a package of joint research, with the first exercise being an investigation into the prospects for prosperous agro-processing hubs in Limpopo.

The LDCP sets out to test the feasibility of a model of socio-economic transition in an underdeveloped province dependent on a diminishing natural resource base in the context of rapid climate change. Insights from this feasibility test on how to transition Limpopo from a primary extractive economy to a diversified and sustainable economy should be invaluable for the entire country grappling with similar imperatives.

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