AsgiSA Eastern Cape (Pty) Ltd ("AsgiSA-EC”) was set up in 2008 as a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) serving to facilitate the implementation of High Impact Priority Projects in the Eastern Cape agricultural sector. The setting up of AsgiSA-EC was mainly in response to the national Accelerated and Shared Growth Initiative for South Africa. It was established to help accelerate growth and development in the eastern part of the Eastern Cape, Transkei. Its mandate was to facilitate, coordinate and implement high impact priority programmes, aligned with the Provincial Growth and Development Plan, focusing initially on the Mzimvubu Economic Development Zone.
Six high impact priority progammes were identified namely:
- Agriculture and agro-processing;
- Water resource development;
- Hydro power and alternative energy;
- Tourism development and
- Sustainable human settlement
A business plan was drawn up with objectives aligned to R2.8 billion over a three-year period. It was anticipated that this funding would be provided by Provincial and National Treasury, as well as the Transkei Development Rural Fund (TDRF). However, in reality only R10 million as establishment funding was granted by the Office of the Premier. A further R250 million from the provincial fiscus was allocated for a three-year period. AsgiSA-EC’s business plan was therefore not aligned with the budget available and this, together with the shortened existence of AsgiSA-EC as a separate entity, hampered the achievement of the strategic objectives as set out in the business plan.
Despite this, the organisation began implementation during its first year of operations (2009-2010), with a number of successes. In summary, AsgiSA-EC’s key accomplishments included:
- Setting up a competent organisation, with effective corporate governance systems;
- Implementing three of the high impact priority programmes;
- Showcasing that agricultural production could be achieved in Transkei and
- Showcasing a model for agricultural development within a land tenureship system (in terms of the Dry Land Cropping, Forestry and Livestock Programmes).
Many useful lessons were also learnt during this time. While there were several factors beyond the immediate control of the organisation which had an effect on long term sustainability (e.g. perceived lack of political support, inadequate funding to support the strategic objectives and lack of infrastructure in the Eastern Cape), some institutional lessons were learnt, mainly relating to effective planning and involving communities in development projects. The main challenges included political support and planning – ensuring alignment of strategic objectives with available budget and the need for agricultural community development through a strong, long term social facilitation approach.