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Regional resilience in peripheral South Africa: The Northern Cape case

Mariske van Aswegen
Francois Pieter Retief
Ernst Drewes


The role of regional policy mechanisms towards increased regional resilience is widely recognised, but limited consideration is given to the  impact of these mechanisms in, specifically, the peripheral region. In reaction hereto, this article explores the role of three key  mechanisms, i.e. economic sectoral composition, innovation and knowledge networks, as well as government institutions as policy tools towards increased regional resilience in a peripheral region in South Africa. The role of each of these mechanisms is quantified and  measured by specified indices such as the GVA, the Tress Index and the ICT Access Index, and government indicators such as audit outcomes and service delivery data in five planning regions of the Northern Cape province. This article highlights that a state of dynamic stability and resilience is more feasible through policy intervention focused on these three mechanisms, coupled with detailed regional socio-economic analysis. It also emphasises that a knowledge-rich region will be less dependent on single sector development, pushing itself into a new development stage of secondary and tertiary sector focus through economic diversification, lessening its vulnerability to external shocks and disturbances, and impeding regional lock-in. In support hereto, collective institutional action by a responsive and accountable local and regional government, operating beyond their functional limits, will reinforce and amplify development in the peripheral region.

Keywords: Economic sectoral structure, innovation and knowledge networks, government institutions, regional resilience, peripheral  region, regional development, policy mechanisms, South Africa