This week the buzz around town is South Africa’s recession and whilst the reality is what it is, my nature is to be forward-looking and opportunity driven which is why I really love the discussions I’m privy to and the people I meet.

Whilst on the one hand we’re discussing the economic downturn, the rooms I find myself in are implementing plans to achieve the “Map to a Million New Jobs in a Decade”, a plan tabled in November 2017 by The Manufacturing Circle.

The plan is somewhat “simple”, but not obvious nor an easy feat to achieve, and we all have a role to play.

1. Boost Demand for SA manufactured Goods:

  • Increase aggregate domestic demand: a role for every household, public and private entity
  • Actively pursue import substitution: there’s an exercise to determine the 100 import substitution line items for SA. The 100 have been rationalised to 51 so far, totaling R105 bil in annual turnover
  • Enhance SA’s export competitiveness: through the promotion of export of locally manufactured products to our neighbouring countries and abroad

2. Lower Manufacturers’ cost base to improve competitiveness:

  • Reduce input cost for manufacturers with an emphasis on cost of energy and capital (including the use of development finance and incentives)
  • Fiscal policy recommendations for recapitalisation, tax holidays for investments with a job focus and accelerated depreciation, similar to the benefits in mining.
  • Labour: implementation of transport subsidies, ease the work permit process for scarce foreign skills, increase transparency for labour on company matters

3. Fix a set of identified structural problems holding back growth and investment:

  • Resolving education (childhood and adult) to skill our labour force
  • policy that supports less currency volatility
  • privatising electricity production

Bite sizing the 1 million jobs over 10 years means we need to create 72,000 jobs in year 1 at a 4% compounded annual growth on the 1.8 million jobs in the manufacturing sector in 2017.

To create the jobs we need to see investment flow, and to see investment flow we need to increase demand for the SA manufactured goods. That’s the name of the game.