It is evident that South Africa’s post-apartheid economic transformation project has not generally delivered a “better life for all” as promised at the dawn of democracy. It is not generating prosperity and economic justice for the majority of the population and suffers from long-standing weaknesses which make it unfit to tackle the challenges of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, according Prof Simon Roberts.
Speaking at the launch of the Industrial Development Think Tank (IDTT) study at the University of Johannesburg (UJ), Prof Roberts, Director of the Centre for Competition, Regulation and Economic Development (CCRED) in the School of Economics, College of Business and Economics, UJ, said that the study reviews trends of (de)industrialisation and assess the potential for structural transformation to drive growth, industrialisation and development in different sectors in South Africa.
The theme of the launch was “Structural Transformation In South Africa: Moving Towards A Smart, Open Economy For All”, the title of the study authored by Jason Bell, Sumayya Goga, Pamela Mondliwa and Simon Roberts.
“We need an economy that is more dynamic, competitive and sustainable, where innovation and productivity lead to better jobs with high wages, and where entry is supported. In order to do this, there needs to be a new vision for reindustrialisation under a political settlement which prioritises long-term investment in productive capacity and rewards effort and creativity rather than incumbency. It requires a broad rethink rather than piecemeal initiatives, in order to place reindustrialisation and industrial policies at the centre of the country’s development strategy,” explained Prof Roberts.
The study highlights that “it is important to acknowledge that in many areas there have been strategy documents, including the industrial policy framework and action plans, which have set out objectives and policy levers but these have been undermined by the fragmentation of the state and the failure of government departments to follow-through. This has no doubt partly been due to state capture, the full extent of which is becoming uncovered with each passing day. What is required, however, is to face up to the hard choices for the structural transformation required.”
Also speaking during the presentations Ms Pamela Mondliwa, Researcher at CCRED, emphasised that “in order to create a more dynamic economy, there needs to be a new vision for reindustrialisation under a political settlement which prioritises long-term investment in productive capacity and rewards effort and creativity rather than incumbency.”.
“Together we can change the path we are on, moving towards reindustrialisation,” added Mondliwa.
The Honourable Minister Rob Davies, Minister of Trade and Industry, Republic of South Africa made Reflections on the policy challenges of industrialisation while, UJ’s Prof Tshilidzi Marwala, Vice-Chancellor, stressed that we have to seek to be active participants when it comes to the Fourth Industrial Revolution rather than bystanders.
The IDTT is hosted by the Centre for Competition, Regulation and Development (CCRED) in the School of Economics, UJ College of Business and Economics, in collaboration with the South African Research Chair (SARChI) in Industrial Development, at the University of Johannesburg, and supported by the Department of Trade and Industry, South Africa.
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