The resilience of some small towns in the Karoo

A new article in the Journal of Arid Environments (see reference below) examines the ‘Small Town Paradox’ in eight small towns in the Eastern Cape Karoo. Normalised data (enterprise numbers per thousand residents) and estimates of enterprise richness were used in the comparisons. Willowmore, Steytlerville and Jansenville outperformed Aberdeen, Hofmeyr, Steynsburg, Venterstad and Pearston in terms of total enterprises per 1000 residents as well as enterprises per 1000 residents in the tourism & hospitality services and agricultural products and services sectors. In fact, in some measures these towns even outperformed the larger towns of Graaff-Reinet, Cradock, Somerset East and Middelburg. Over some seven decades, the enterprise richness of Willowmore, Steytlerville and Jansenville increased (like those of the larger towns) whereas the enterprise richness of the other five small towns decreased. Hausmann et al. (2017) postulated that productive knowledge is a main determinant of the wealth/poverty of nations. I think this is also true for towns and used enterprise richness as a proxy for the levels of productive knowledge in the towns.

The resilience of towns is now a hot scientific topic. It refers to the ability of towns to respond successfully to adverse changes. Some do it well and some not; hence the ‘Small Town Paradox’. The decline of agriculture, particularly wool farming, in the Karoo stressed many Karoo towns. The study was done to determine if resilience was present in the Eastern Cape Karoo. It was.

The article demonstrates two important issues: 1. There are useful measures whereby the strengths/weaknesses of the entrepreneurial development of South African towns can be compared. 2. Productive knowledge is probably an important component of the resilience of South African towns.

References

Toerien, DF (2018) The ‘Small Town Paradox’ and towns of the Eastern Cape Karoo, South Africa. Journal of Arid Environments. Available free of charge for a limited period at:
https://authors.elsevier.com/a/1WwV0Vu7-m4sz

Hausmann, R, Hidalgo, CA, Bustos, S, Coscia, M, Chung, S, Jiminez, J,  Simoes, A & Yildirim, MA. (2017) The Atlas of Economic Complexity: Mapping Paths to Prosperity. Center for International Development, Harvard University.

The other side of the ‘tourism coin’

The 2015 Statistics South Africa report on tourism1 concentrates on information about travellers, e.g. their numbers and origins, but does not provide any information about tourism and hospitality (T&H) enterprises in South Africa, e.g. their numbers or locations. Neither do the 2015/16 Annual Report of the Department of Tourism2 and the 2016 Report of the World Tourism Organization3 provide such information. Something is lacking in the tourism scene of South Africa.

Continue reading “The other side of the ‘tourism coin’”

If monopolies are the problem, start dismantling the worst: the State-owned Enterprises

Rating agenciesWith Moody’s soon to announce their assessment of SA’s credit risk, Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba made it clear that a white minority was controlling the economy through a monopoly and that was now to change.  Gigaba, speaking mostly in isiZulu, said “The economy is controlled by a minority; they are a monopoly. There are a lot of companies owned by very few people and the services and products on offer enrich these few people.” (Gigaba: It is time to put us first ).

Addressing an ANC Youth League event in Pinetown, Gigaba remarked that there was an agreement in 1993 that white people would continue to have a say in the economy.  The ANC stayed committed to this, “but now has come a time for change. It is time to put us first.Continue reading “If monopolies are the problem, start dismantling the worst: the State-owned Enterprises”

Challenges in assessing the potential impacts of shale gas production on tourism in the Karoo

Shale-Gas-SA-cover-A4_FINAL-722x1024Tourism is not a clearly defined industry in the International Standard Industrial Classification of all Economic Activities (ISIC). The key factor in the Tourism Satellite Account for South Africa is to relate purchases by tourists to the total supply of these goods and services. Quantification of tourism enterprise numbers does not form part of the national assessments; yet it was necessary to know how many tourism-related enterprises could be impacted by shale gas production in the study area of the Karoo.

So how did we endeavour to solve this problem?
Continue reading “Challenges in assessing the potential impacts of shale gas production on tourism in the Karoo”