The Oxford Business Group (OGB) report on South Africa shows that the country provides long term growth prospects in spite of the obstacles it faces.
“The core message contained in the report is the fact that South Africa offers considerable and serious long term growth and development potential in spite of the challenges which we confront at present, some of those are challenges not of our own making but the winds of the world economy is blowing in our direction,” Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies said at the inaugural launch of The Report South Africa 2012.
The business group spent roughly nine months in the country producing the report that investigates government’s efforts to enhance growth across the industrial sector, among others, in addition to examining challenges in conducting business in the country.
Both Government and industry were questioned in compiling the report. “The report articulates a clear message that South Africa is open for business,” said the minister, adding that the country has exceptional possibility to draw in investment.
“For government it is vital that we situate the OGB report and the private and public perspectives it contains in the overall context of our economic development strategy. It was also essential to position the report in the overall context of the country’s economic strategy”, the minister he was quoted saying.
South Africa also focused to boost its competitiveness and has worked tirelessly on achieving stabilisation in a number of industries that were vulnerable for example, the clothing industry. Issues such as inequality and unemployment continue to persist.
OGB head Michael Benson-Colpi pointed out that the report was for individuals that wished to understand more about South Africa. “It is a comprehensive report on South Africa, it is an educational in addition to a marketing tool,” he said.
The report was produced in partnership with the DTI.
Brand South Africa’s Ignatius Sathekge stated it was essential for the country to boost inter-African trade which could create opportunities for the country.
For the time being, Absa Capital CEO Stephen van Coller pointed out that the country continued to be relatively robust considering the events in the global economy, adding that there was a fresh sense of optimism with Africa being the second fastest growing region.
Having said that, the country “was not out of the woods yet” simply because it is faced with issues for instance the downgrading of the country by rating agencies along with currency volatility. He stated the country punched above its weight in attracting multi-nationals.
Regional Editor for Africa for the OGB Robert Tashima referred to South Africa as sophisticated, adding the fact that the country’s government budget was in excellent health. South Africa was lauded in that it took roughly 19 days to register a business when compared to the rest of the continent.
Unemployment at 24% was identified as a structural challenge. “The problems are worrying however they are not grounds for despondency,” said Tashima.
The country was praised for having policy and political stability, an outstanding business environment, natural resources in addition to infrastructure. “These can catapult the economy forward, they provide opportunity, pointed out the Editor.
When it comes to energy sector, programmes like the Renewable Independent Power Producers programme, the report discovered that “prospects for growth were electrifying”.
The report at the same time mentioned that inequality in South African society posed “long term concern”.
A number of the growth strategies recognized in the report include the diversification of exports, and strengthening skills sets.