The Economies of Regions Learning Network (ERLN) is a South African Community of Practice that focuses on Economic Development at the sub-national level. The purpose of the ERLN is to bring together economic development practitioners in all spheres of South African government in a spirit of enquiry and cooperation and to strengthen our agency as leaders in the regional economic development arena.
On this basis, and through a focus on regional economic development approaches, understandings, tools and skills, the ERLN aims to contribute to innovation and the effective advancement and realisation of South Africa's inclusive growth.
The focus is on regional / provincial level lessons and approaches within the context of the national economic development agenda.
The ERLN is built on three components:
• Learning network meetings
• Knowledge centre
• Research and benchmarking
Supporting, facilitating, encouraging and driving economic growth is central to the achievement of South Africa's development objectives. A key developmental objective for South Africa is that this growth needs to be underpinned by nett employment creation and greater equity in how its benefits are spread. Reducing the ecological footprint of the regions is also seen to form a key part of their long-term success and competitiveness.
Being innovative and also being able to implement and drive regional development initiatives requires integration into national planning mechanisms, inter-governmental city-region planning and coordination mechanisms and inter-governmental engagement between cities and city-regions. The intention of the learning network is to provide this space.
The ERLN is about how to implement. It seeks to chart ways of working that are effective in the complex environment of government. It sets the basis for teaching people to lead in a collaborative manner – and does so in an experiential and "learn-by-doing" environment in which the context becomes the raw material for the learning.
The ERLN works with departments focussed on economic delivery system in the country – horizontal, vertical and transversal – and in a way that is accessible to all economic development practitioners.
It seeks to model effective leadership styles – offering a basis for individuals to appreciate how they can have agency in their organisational contexts.
The learning network creates connected individuals who approach problem solving jointly and who share knowledge and information to do so. The ERLN is building a sharing, open and communications-orientated culture in the economic delivery space.