"The small town regeneration programme is an important contribution to the implementation of our National Development Plan (NDP), and specifically our Integrated Urban Development Framework," said Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) Deputy Minister Andries Nel.
He was speaking at the third Karoo Small Towns Regeneration Conference in Graaf-Reinet on Tuesday.
He said small towns can contribute to regional and rural development by becoming centers of "demand/markets for agricultural produce from the rural region either for local consumers or as links to national and export markets".
"Access to markets is a prerequisite to increase rural agricultural incomes, and the proximity of local small and intermediate centers to production areas is assumed to be a key factor," Nel said.
It is envisioned that the towns could also act as centers for the production and distribution of goods and services to rural regions.
"Such concentration is assumed to reduce costs and improve access to a variety of services, both public and private, and for both rural households and enterprises.
"Hence, services include agricultural extension, health and education (and access to other government services), as well as banking, post, services of professionals such as lawyers and accountants, lower-order services such as bars and restaurants, and wholesale and retail sales of manufactured goods from within and outside the region," Nel said.