Apart from being the usual networking soiree for Africa and the world’s well-heeled, the World Economic Forum (WEF) on Africa presents an interesting platform for debate. At the recent 2017 Durban event, the concept of radical economic transformation was placed before a critical and sceptical audience. What has been notably absent from this debate (in so far as it has been presented) is tactical detail of the trade-offs this will involve, how the ANC government will use its existing levers (legislative, policy and regulatory) and how it will crowd in public and private investment in a manner that creates what economist Paul Rosenstein-Rodan called a Big Push. Such a Big Push in SA would not be about "catching up" to western powers, but responding to context-specific economic challenges of redress and equity. The Big Push required now happens in a world much different to what Rosenstein-Rodan described in the 20th century. Bricks, mortar, co-located and low-paid (or semi-skilled) wor...

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