Business Unity South Africa (Busa) will host its second Business Economic Indaba (BEI2020 ) on January 14, which Busa President Sipho Pityana describes as “an important engagement with President Cyril Ramaphosa and his Cabinet colleagues”.
“We believe business has a crucial role to play in ensuring South Africa’s economic and social revival, and that we need an urgent and focused discussion with government to bring that about.
“That is precisely why we are hosting BEI2020 now – we urgently need to map out, as business and government, what can be done to address the serious economic crisis we find ourselves is,” he notes.
Pityana says South Africa is facing an unprecedented economic crisis – the longest economic downswing since 1945.
He points to an average economic growth rate of 1.5% over the last decade, compared with over 4% in other emerging economies. He also notes that government debt has ballooned from 26% in 2008 to 56% of GDP in 2019.
“Alongside this, unemployment has risen to almost 30% (there are now ten-million people unemployed), and we are sitting on a powder-keg of unemployed youth with little or no future.
“As if this is not enough, we are also facing a real prospect of a sovereign rating downgrade that could exacerbate these conditions.”
Ramaphosa has accepted Busa’s invitation to attend, as have various other government leaders, and the indaba has been structured to ensure a clear emphasis on real and actionable outcomes and the formation of new practical partnerships – under the theme “Activating Actual Outcomes”.
“This will be an opportunity for government to interact with business leaders from virtually every sector of the economy,” says Pityana.
“Through engagements like this, we hope to catalyse the national mood and shape 2020 into a year of decisive action on key economic reforms. Most importantly, we aim to develop new issue-specific partnerships that will rescue the economy – and South Africa with it.”
To guide discussions at BEI2020, Busa has outlined five key focus areas that will be workshopped for the bulk of the day and will focus on how to forge greater business and government collaboration.
These focus areas are energy security; enabling a capable State; critical sectors for economic growth; the structure of the economy; and the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
The opening addresses will be delivered by Ramaphosa and Pityana.Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Online