Local economic development (LED) continues to emerge as an important and a viable tool for achieving economic growth, creating new jobs, increasing income levels, and improving the quality of life in different local communities in both industrialised and developing countries. This emerged from a research entitled Promoting Local Economic Development in Egypt: Challenges and Lessons Learned from the Case of Fayoum Governorate which was issued by the Department of Public Policy and Administration at the American University in Cairo (AUC) IN 2017.
As the research showed, there are huge economic potentials which exist at the different local levels in Egypt. LED represents a very sound and effective mechanism which can help local administrations in Egypt realise these potentials. Once these potentials and values are properly considered, a wave of economic growth could be generated, which can eventually lead to a higher level of prosperity and an improved quality of life for local citizens.
Based on different countries’ experiences and upon close examination of the LED promotion experience, which took place in Fayoum between 2011 and 2014, it is rather obvious that there are several perquisites for the success of any LED promotion process, especially in developing economies. The absence of one or more of these perquisites can be very challenging for local administrations, and can obstruct their abilities and endeavours toward achieving economic development in their local communities.
The most important of these perquisites and predetermining factors, according to the research, is the need for local administrations to have authority and autonomy in planning for their local economies, as well as being able to manage their own local assets in order to generate and manage local revenues. Moreover, a strong political will and an official commitment to the process is crucial to its success, in addition to the need to build the capacity of local administrative systems, and the importance of having competent and skilled local calibres, as they have proven to be very essential for the effective implementation of the LED initiatives.
Unless the central government, along with the efforts of local administrative systems, manage to overcome and/or eliminate these challenges, a different and a more context-appropriate approach from the ones proposed by international donor organisations has to be locally adopted in order to capitalise on the existing limited resources, in the most effective and efficient ways possible. Through a process of gradual learning and accumulative experience, those local communities can move toward a more comprehensive and strategic approach to promote LED.