Province slowly shedding its tag of being the poorest

Frank Maponya

Frank Maponya

Limpopo was once ranked as the country's poorest province.

But this appears no longer to be the case after it has been discovered that the province is rich in mineral resources.

Its economic status is apparently changing for the better. With the forthcoming ANC national conference, the province's fortunes are also set to improve.

Polokwane, the capital, has been earmarked to become a regional economic hub.

With investments of R60billion set to flow into the province, Limpopo is stepping up efforts to sustain its high growth momentum. It has also recorded an annual average growth rate of four percent between 1996 and 2005, which is higher than the national rate.

Things started going right for the province in 2002 after its name was changed to Limpopo, named after the river that separates South Africa and Zimbabwe.

Apart from sharing a border with Zimbabwe, the province is also the gateway into Africa.

It also shares borders with Botswana in the west and Mozambique in the east.

Limpopo is best identified with the baobab tree, found only in the province.

It is not easy for a place like Limpopo to make itself heard, even if it believes it has a good story to tell.

It is even challenging when the province has only had a name for itself for five years. And it becomes doubly difficult when so many people believe that the South African economy extends barely beyond the boundaries of Gauteng, eThekwini and Cape Town.

Changing the name to Limpopo and adopting the positive positioning statement "Africa's Eden" has seen a remarkable change in the province's fortunes.

"We initially set out to build our image around Limpopo's mineral wealth, agricultural productivity, abundant wildlife, fauna and flora, rich culture, folklore and art," said Saul Molobi, general manager for communications at Trade and Investment Limpopo, the marketing agency for the province.

Molobi said the positioning statement had subsequently been refined to brand Limpopo as the "Heartland of Southern Africa".

"This new statement defines Limpopo's economic aspirations. It sets out to capitalise on the province's geographic position as the region linking South Africa and the rest of the Southern African Development Community," Molobi said.