Over the past two decades, the structure of the SA economy has shifted in the wrong direction — towards producing less diverse, lower-value-added products. This has contributed to stubbornly low growth rates and persistently high unemployment across the country. Only a change in behaviour from government and business — with everyone committing to a structural transformation aimed at developing SA’s industrial capabilities — will generate higher incomes and wealth on a sustainable basis. This is the main message of a report by the University of Johannesburg’s new Industrial Development Think Tank under professor Simon Roberts on how to reverse decades of deindustrialisation in SA. The report, "Structural Transformation in SA: Moving Towards a Smart, Open Economy for All", points out that between 1994 and 2016 the manufacturing industry’s value-added contribution grew by an annual average of just 1.6% compared with 5.5% among all upper-middle income countries. Unsurprisingly, the comp...

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