Business Unity South Africa will be hosting its second Business Economic Indaba on 14 January 2020, described by BUSA President Sipho Pityana 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,” says Pityana.
“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 added: “South Africa is facing an unprecedented economic crisis — the longest economic downswing since 1945. We had an average economic growth rate of 1.5% over the last decade, compared to over 4% in other emerging economies.
“Government debt ballooned from 26% in 2008 to 56% of GDP in 2019. Alongside this, unemployment has risen to almost 30% (there are now 10 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.”
President Ramaphosa has accepted BUSA’s invitation to attend, as have a range of 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.
“We are doing this because of our firm belief that business has a crucial role to play in ensuring South Africa’s economic and social revival. But we have to be frank: we can only do so if there is a national agenda for economic recovery, driven by a committed government, around which we can plan, support and mobilise resources.
To guide discussions at BEI2020, BUSA has outlined five key focus areas which will be workshopped for the bulk of the day and will focus on how to forge greater business and government collaboration.
The focus areas are:
- Energy security.
- Enabling a capable state.
- Critical sectors for economic growth.
- The structure of the economy.
- The Fourth Industrial Revolution.
The opening addresses will be delivered by President Ramaphosa and Mr. Pityana.
Prominent business leaders will be in attendance, including those from BUSA affiliated business associations, chairmen and CEOs of blue-chip corporates, BUSA’s local and international partners and associates.
“As South Africa’s apex business organisation, we are fundamentally committed to coordinating the maximum possible involvement in shaping joint solutions to the problems we all face,” says Pityana. “We look forward to a fruitful, productive and action-focused discussion.”