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South African delegation continues collaborations with the County

At the delegation welcome Monday morning were Mayor-elect Steve Ferguson, along with Neil Carbone, Director of Community Development and Strategic Initiatives, Hattingh Bornman, Speaker of Council, Kouga Local Municipality (KLM), James Hepburn, the County’s Chief Administrative Officer, Robert Quaiff, Mayor, Vusumzi Yake, Local Economic Development Officer, KLM, Fezeka Mabusela, Director of Planning, Development and Tourism, KLM, Xolile Wagosa, Local Economic Development Officer, KLM.

A delegation from the Kouga Local Municipality in South Africa will work alongside County staff in the Community Development Department this month as part of the County’s ongoing participation in the Building Inclusive Green Municipalities (BIGM) program.

The County welcomed delegates during a short reception in council chambers Monday morning. For more than a year, the County and Kouga have collaborated to develop solutions to common challenges such as local economic development and youth engagement.

Visiting are Hattingh Bornman, Speaker of Council, Fezeka Mabusela, Director of Planning, Development & Tourism, and Vusumzi Yake and Xolile Wagosa, both Local Economic Development Officers for Kouga.

“It is a great privilege for us to be in the County and we are excited to work with our colleagues,” said Bornman. “We are determined to grow our local economy and we look forward to learning from Prince Edward County and seeing the successes they have achieved.”

“Despite being 15,000 km apart and occupying different continents, the two communities are similar in several areas, which has served to enhance the partnership,” said Mayor-elect Steve Ferguson, who visited Kouga in March on behalf of council and Mayor Robert Quaiff.

“Having participated in early planning activities in Kouga, I am excited for their representatives to work alongside our staff in the coming weeks as they develop their own approaches based on our successful programs.”

The BIGM program is made possible by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM), in conjunction with the South African Local Government Association (SALGA). It is funded entirely by Global Affairs Canada with in-kind contributions from the partner municipalities.

The partnership kicked off in October 2017 when representatives from Kouga, SALGA, and FCM visited the County. The partners have since held online meetings, communicated over email, and participated in two additional missions. Delegations from the County performed work in Kouga in March and September of 2018.

“While modern technology allows us to accomplish a lot remotely, we’re at a stage in the program when representatives from Kouga need to participate in the delivery of our programs here in the County, to develop first-hand knowledge and experience that they can then apply back in South Africa,” said Neil Carbone, Director of Community Development and Strategic Initiatives for the County. “During this visit, they will assist with our annual Business Retention and Expansion program, support our destination development activities, and participate in various public meetings and engagement activities aimed at strengthening their own abilities in those areas.”

“Participating in this program is a worthwhile endeavour,” said James Hepburn, the County’s CAO. “At this stage in the partnership, Kouga representatives are working alongside County staff – assisting us while they learn from our approaches and programs. This assistance is certainly of value to our staff while at the same time offering real life experience in project management, communication, problem solving, and intercultural learning – things that traditional professional development activities seldom replicate.”

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