n Africa Insight - Exploring local opportunities for improving rural incomes and job creation insight from an empirical study of the Eastern Cape Province, South Africa

Volume 48 Number 2
  • ISSN : 0256-2804


In the rural development discourse, there is a growing realisation that the persistence of rural under-development cannot be attributed to a lack of resources alone, but also to under-utilisation of locally available opportunities. Maximum utilisation of locally available resources is seen as having the potential to stimulate endogenous small enterprises that can improve the competitiveness of the local economy, and subsequently create rural wage employment. However, there has been a dearth of scientific studies that have scrutinised the rural economy, with the goal of identifying locally available resources or opportunities that can be used for employment creation in rural areas. This research was, therefore, essentially undertaken in an effort to close this gap. The overall goal of the study was to identify sources of rural income and locally available opportunities that can be used for job creation and income generation in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa. The sequentially explanatory mixed methods approach was used and 1 789 households participated in the study. Quantitative data were analysed using SPSS, while qualitative data were analysed using corroborative and complementary thematic analyses. Social grants emerged as the most important source of rural income. The research unearthed various resources that are currently under-utilized in the rural areas, but which have significant potential to create job opportunities and support income-generating activities. The study recommends further scientific research to determine the quality and quantity of some of the identified opportunities.

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