Africa’s second largest economy is suffering under appalling economic policies. This was the word from some of the most seasoned minds on the continent when they gathered in Sandton, Johannesburg, to discuss the battered South African economy.
The United States Consulate hosted a panel discussion focusing on the challenges and opportunities of doing business in South Africa.
The CEO of the Institute of Race Relations, Frans Cronje, who was among the panellists, says that South Africa was on a positive trajectory after 1994 for over a decade. He says debt levels had been halved from the nationalist government and the currency had been relatively stable.
“Growth rates had averaged 3 per cent of GDP since ’94 into 2007 and it actually peaked at 5 per cent. The number of South Africans with jobs had almost doubled. The story of concern about South Africa is a short term story that has risen relatively in the recent past,” says Cronje.
ENS Africa’s chairman, Michael Katz, who was also a panellist, reckons the war against poverty is one of the major issues to tackle going forward.
“Unemployment is largely caused by lack of skills, so good education and good skills development is a very fundamental objective that we must address,” says Katz.
The host of this talk, the United States Embassy, says there are tremendous business opportunities in South Africa.
Frans Cronje suggests that the solution in South Africa’s future lies in the past.
“South Africa’s policymakers know how to run South Africa as a high growth economy. All that’s necessary is to go back to the sound principles that were central to how the South African government ran the South African economy and positioned it as an investment space in the first 15 years after 1994,” says Cronje.