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Alice Profile

The small town of Alice is situated on the banks of the Tyhume River at the foothills of the Amathole Mountains in the Eastern Cape. It was established in 1852 by the Cape colonial government to be the administrative centre for the surrounding district. Alice has always been a place of higher learning, even before its establishment. It is home to legendary institutions of higher learning in Africa, most notably Lovedale College (established 1835), Lovedale Press (founded 1861), the University of Fort Hare (established 1916), and Jabavu High School. These institutions ensured that many African intellectuals and leaders in the African liberation movements have once lived in Alice.


Lovedale FET College

UFH - Freedom Square

The town of Alice has changed since then. Apartheid policies destroyed the once vibrant multi-racial community when many residents left Alice in the 1970s. During the Ciskei era, there were hardly any new infrastructure investments, while existing public and private investments were barely maintained. The 1990s were characterised by the trimming of the bloated homeland bureaucracy by rationalising government services and funding, which was not replaced by new private sector investments. Furthermore, most municipal functions were relocated to Fort Beaufort with the new municipal dispensation in the early 2000s. The overall result was the stagnation of the Alice economy.


Old Dutch Reformed Church - Alice

Amatola Hotel


These days about 12,500 people live in Alice, more than half of them younger than 24 years. Economic dependency in Alice is extremely high. There is at least one child/elderly dependent for every adult, but only one in 12 adults have jobs. Half of all formal jobs in Alice are in either the government or education sectors, with the rest of the economy is largely geared to provide services to these sectors. Many residents in Alice and the surrounding 56 rural villages that use Alice to access services are dependent on government social grants for their livelihoods.

Alice has significant economic development potential. The fertile Tyumi River valley has considerable potential for agricultural development. The colonial legacy and the role of its educational institutions in Africa’s liberation have provided Alice with a very rich and unique heritage – the catalyst to develop heritage tourism in Alice. This is further enhanced by the significant human capital that is provided by the education institutions in Alice. The contribution that Alice has made and continues to make to the political, business and academic landscape of South Africa and Africa ensures provincial and national support over the long term for Alice.

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