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WSG leads multidisciplinary research team to address SA’s economic challenges


SA Future Economy Project

The Wits School of Governance (Wits University) is working with a team of local and international researchers to explore options to revive the South African economy through the SA Future Economy Project.

The aim of this project – led by the new Head of WSG, Professor Mzukisi Qobo and Dr Nomfundo Ngwenya, a Visiting Research Fellow at the School –  is to provide evidence-based research to decision and policy makers in government (particularly the economic cluster) business, labour and any groups active in the economic and social sectors. 

A team of multidisciplinary researchers have started working towards proposing a framework for slowing South Africa’s economic decline, while catalysing long term economic growth.

“Although South Africa’s triple challenges of unemployment, poverty and inequality have been amplified by COVID-19, the country’s current economic malaise preceded the pandemic. The project will therefore recognise the epoch-defining shifts presented by COVID-19, but it will not utilise the pandemic as the sole prism through which to view South Africa’s challenges.

“The scale of these challenges requires a multi-stakeholder response to forge a common purpose. This can be facilitated through well-considered responses that are based on solid research and evidence. A critical early step for the project is to identify similar research that is currently undertaken by other institutions. This will assist with identifying research gaps and clearly defining the group’s value add to its target audience,” the researchers explained.

The team will explore areas such as the role of the state and markets in development (including industrial policy, competition policy, and state capabilities); rethinking macro-economic policy (including fiscal and monetary policy) and sectors identified for future development including the health sector (economic and social); energy and ecology products; agriculture; infrastructure (including transport and other social sectors). They will also study new industries (including digital products, platforms and services) and employment trends and labour markets.

The research will undergo internal quality review and external subject area specialists will review each output to ensure quality control and that meaningful and tangible knowledge is shared.

The team comprises South African and international researchers including Professor Qobo, Adjunct Professor Alex van den Heever, Professor Haroon Bhorat, Dr Thando Vilakazi, Adjunct  Professor Michael Sachs, Dr Ngwenya and Professor Marianna Mazzucato, Professor Imraan Valodia, Dr Iraj Abedian, Ms Nthabiseng Toanamatsie, Professor Mills Soko, Dr Bonface Fundafunda, Dr Garth le Pere and Dr Rainer Kattel.

“We are grateful for the opportunity to work with this excellent team and also to partner with a company like Telkom. We are close to issuing the first paper in the coming weeks and have identified a list of opportunities to present our findings and recommendations,” said Qobo.