Economic Development
For more details contact: LED Manager Wim Eising
Key Dimensions Menu

A New, national Local Economic Development Website for LED Practitioners and relevant roleplayers.

A national LED-website - - is now up and running. The website is very impressive, with an attractive, long list of relevant contacts and links in the LED-field and therefore a very useful medium to exchange information. If you have any interesting articles/documents, or bits of information focusing on local economic development practice, or if you want to add your name or organisation to the database, please send all relevant papers to the LED-SA database via Mabusi Ndlovu - - as part of the LED-SA website Steering Committee. CLICK HERE. (Extract from Community Self Reliance - Feb 2003)


The Cato Manor Development Project, with an important role for Local Economic Development, has recently been the recipient of several national and international awards for the Best Practice and Innovation in urban development for the poor. In 2002, the project was awarded international Best Practice by UN/Habitat.

In 2003, the CMDP has been awarded national best practice by Impumelelo Innovation Awards, a South African Trust directed by the Eminent Board of Trustees who seek to foster collaboration between Government and Non- Government Organisations. The specific emphasis of Impumelelo Awards is upon achieving innovation in punlic sector development.

Click here for a summary of the paper on LED in low-income areas by Professor Etienne Nel and Dr. Trevor Hillis.

During the early 1990s, as South Africa prepared for its first democratic election, millions of people across the nation looked forward to their integration into South African society and to taking their rightful place in the new democracy. At this time, seven kilometres from the centre of Durban, the physical and social landscape of the urban settlement known as Cato Manor still bore the grim scars of apartheidís segregation policies. Characterised by urban poverty, environmental degradation and social disarray, greater Cato Manor became the concern of a range of interest groups who saw the area as a post-apartheid development priority and a significant urban renewal opportunity.

Individual players, local community organisations, political parties and city and provincial authorities joined forces to embrace the numerous re-development challenges presented by Cato Manor. Together, they devised a plan which would correct the wrongs of the past and establish an institutional framework to facilitate the development process. The Cato Manor Development Association (CMDA) was formed as the vehicle to implement these aims.

In the eight years since the end of apartheid in 1994, Cato Manor has experienced significant and exciting change across all sectors. Today, around 93 000 people live, work and enjoy a normal life in Cato Manor. New houses, buildings, facilities, roads and engineering works have been and continue to be developed. Cato Manorís economy and its people, especially the urban poor, have benefitted from the integrated development process.

The Cato Manor Development Project (CMDP) has achieved world-wide acclaim as a model for integrated development. Within South Africa it has become a model of post-apartheid sustainable urban development practice.

Once divided by race, Cato Manorís people are being united in a vibrant cross-cultural identity and integrated into the activities and life of the rest of the city of Durban. Once ignored, poor people are accessing education, health care and basic services.
Through a multi-disciplinary and multi-sectoral approach to development, the CMDA has also laid important foundations for the continuation of Cato Manorís development into the future and beyond the life-span of the CMDA.

Industrial and Commercial land development and premises

  • Booth West Industrial Park and Value Centre: aims at maximising job creation for Cato Manor residents as well as maximising revenues to be reinvested in socio-economic projects in Cato Manor. Project is in packaging stage, with the land assembly in progress and the preliminary design started. Construction to start in June 2002. Plans are developed to construct a Motor City on the Value Centre site.
  • Edwin Swales Industrial Park: aims at maximising job creation for Cato Manor residents as well as maximising revenues to be reinvested in socio-economic projects in Cato Manor. Project is in packaging stage, with the land assembly in progress and the preliminary design started. Construction to start in June 2002.
  • Booth Central Industrial and Commercial Land: aims at preparing land along Booth Road Central for industrial and commercial development. Project is in packaging stage, with the land assembly in progress and the preliminary design started. Construction to start in June 2002.
  • Wiggins Economic Hive: CMDA is preparing to upgrade the Housing Support Centre in Wiggins to an economic hive. This hive is mainly targeting business people living at Wiggins. The steering committee comprising the Metropolitan and Community representatives has been set up. Natal Portland Cement has been approached to supply technical support and to upgrade the block yards. Meanwhile current accommodation is rented to emerging business and co-ops in Cato Manor. The Professional team has been selected and a feasibility study will be presented to the Steering Committee in due course. Construction to start soon and to be implemented before March 2003. The existing co-ops have been temporarily allocated to unused containers. The lease agreements will be signed soon. The design brief for the hive has been issued to consultants and work has commenced.
  • Molver Road Economic Hive: CMDA is planning to formalise the informal development of business units in Cato Crestís Molver Road into an economic hive. A Steering Committee will be set up soon.
  • Small-Scale Industry Workshops Ė Premises for the ESC: An administration building and industrial workshop units will be constructed on a site in the Booth Central Industrial Park, for occupation by the ESC in 2003. Designs are finalised and tenders have been received. Construction will begin as soon as contractual agreements are finalised and site preparation is complete.
  • Business Support
  • Short Term Guarantee Finance: The scheme aims at improving access to working capital loans for local contractors working on Cato Manor projects. The scheme is operational.
  • SED Vehicle: CMDA, in close co-operation with the eThekwini Municipality, is in the process of establishing a socio-economic development vehicle which will sustain economic development in Cato Manor after CMDA closes down. Workshops are being held with metropolitan and community representatives to determine the configuration of it. A business plan has been produced. Incremental implementation will start in due course.
  • Legacy and Tourism project: The New Cato Manor Tourism Office comprises four components. The Cato Manor Visitors Centre which will open soon. The Internet Coffee Bar has been awarded to Ilembe Catering (Princess Nombuso Zulu) and Ikhono Technologies (Sizwe Makhaye). The facility was opened on 8 May 2002
    The Umkhumbane Conference Centre which also forms part of the Tourism Office is also open and available for bookings.
    A third component of the Tourism Centre is the Interpretative Centre, a small museum about the history and development of Cato Manor will be opened in June 2002.
    The Tourism Awareness Campaign in Cato Manor is well underway. Several local tour guides have been trained and are now liaising with CMDA and tour agents in taking Cato Manor visitors around.
  • Building Materials Manufacture: A feasibility study and business plan have been conducted to analyse the building manufacturing sector in Cato Manor. The proposal is to set up a Central Distribution and Support Unit for the sector, providing services such as bulk purchase, transport, marketing and business support. A steering committee is being set up. Applications for financial assistance for phase 1to the City and private sectors are awaiting approval.
  • ESC Incubator/Industrial Workshops: The ESC is now operational. Working from offices on 2nd Floor POD3 Intuthuko Junction. The ESC is engaging entrepreneurs specifically from the manufacturing sectors, but also from the service industries and the retail sector. The ESC offers assistance, ranging from advice, tender advice information, business planning, access to financial institutions, administrative services and business management skills training. Two full time business advisors are in attendance and can be contacted at Intuthuko Junction and/or on 031- 261 5585.
  • Small Business Fair 2002: Preparations for this yearís Small Business Fair are afoot and an event organiser has been appointed. The Business Fair is going to benefit a lot of people as services like security, catering and cleaning will be sourced from the community. Local business people are gearing themselves for the event as this yearís fair will be the biggest and best ever.

Bellair Road Housing Support Centre
The Bellair Informal Market


Container Park


Cato Manor Shopping Centre


The Bellair Informal Market


Cato Manor Shopping Centre





As an area characterised by a legacy of urban poverty and dislocation, Cato Manor has often presented a highly charged social and political environment, impacting directly on the CMDA's ability to proceed with housing programmes. Delivery has also been hampered by the emergence of powerful shacklords who benefit from crowded settlements. An exodus of skilled professionals from KwaZulu-Natalís low-income housing industry over the last two years, apparently because of the high risks and relatively low returns of low-cost housing projects, has necessitated the cultivation within the CMDA of dedicated housing capacity. Establishing and mentoring a network of local emerging contractors to build houses for the upgrading projects has been a key aspect of this endeavour. The difficult topography and complex geo-technical conditions that prevail across much of the development area have provided further challenges to housing delivery.

Intuthuko Junction Office Block

Bellair Market (click to enlarge)
what's new |overview | key dimensions | map | management | eu assistance |reports | history | press | contact | links