Cyril’s industrial reboot will not drive economy to success

president Cyril Ramaphosa
president Cyril Ramaphosa

President Cyril Ramaphosa’s State of the Nation address revealed a new direction in economic policy: “import substitution industrialisation”: producing goods locally where possible. The approach was most effective from 1933-1945, during South Africa’s first modern manufacturing boom. The era featured an average 8% annual gross domestic product growth, more economic balance, and even improved racial equity in wages. 

The need for local sovereignty is today even greater, given the deindustrialisation-driven jobs bloodbath underway. But Pretoria’s residual economic schizophrenia is remarkable, especially thanks to wasteful subsidies for Special Economic Zones (SEZs).

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