South African Chapter of the IMD World Competitiveness Yearbook Report

Keynote address: Ms Boitumelo Moloi MP Deputy Minister of Employment and Labour.
Moderator of this Webinar platform - Ms Lalane Janse Van Rensburg who is also the Productivity SA Executive Manager Regional Operations for Region 1.
The CEO of Productivity SA - Mr Mothunye Mothiba
Productivity SA Chief Economist - Dr Leroi Raputsoane
Productivity SA Executive Manager Corporate Relations - Dr Nandi Dabula
Representative from the Institute for Management Development World Competitiveness Center who is also a Senior Economist - Dr Josè Caballero
President of the Pan African Productivity Association - Mr David Ligonda
Our Stakeholders Present on this Webinar
Members of the Media
Ladies and Gentlemen

Good Morning South Africa time

Let me thank you for the invite to this very important occasion Organised by Productivity South Africa - an Entity of the Department of Employment and Labour, in partnership with the Institute for Management Development World Competitiveness Centre.

I am really honoured to be amongst the capable men and women of such diverse Academic Expertise in various fields and most importantly, it is a singular honour to be amongst the Economists and Senior Economist present here.

This event takes place at the most appropriate time befitting your theme, when the whole world Economies are battling with the ability of their nations to create and sustain environments that maintain more value creation for enterprises and more prosperity for their people.

As an aspiring Economist and probably a future graduate of the IMD Business School (you never know), I say there couldn't be a better time than this and your theme for this Launch attests to this quite sufficiently. So I wouldn't trade this opportunity to be here this morning, for anything in the world but to be part of these engagements.

The Economists have spoken Ladies and Gentlemen and expert advice and recommendations have been given.

I will focus briefly on some of the 04 IMD indicators which have been identified and much talked about by other speakers and will attempt to reflect on these at a more Macro Policy level. These IMD indicators are Economic Performance, Business Efficiency, Government Efficiency and Infrastructure.

I know most of you who read Francis Fukuyama will agree with me when I say, we live in the times of Contemporary Identity Politics and times where Societies struggle for Recognition.
We live in the times where, unless we forge a Universal understanding of human dignity, we are doomed to endure unending conflict.

The catastrophic events caused by this Pandemic are a clear catalogue for unending conflict, unless something drastic is done to manage the situation.

Ladies and Gentlemen
The modern schools of Political thought, from Karl Marx and Vladimir Lenin on the left, to Frederich Hayek and Milton Friedman on the right, agree on at least one thing; - that private entrepreneurship is the driver of modern Economic Development.

There's a firm belief that in a quest for greater security and comfort, the private individuals and their households are driven to seek ever increasing material wealth. This in our situation must always find fundamental balance between profit margins and our labour laws constituting what is commonly known as the law of surplus value. This is the most pragmatic thing to do for a country of our history.

There is also another narrative which Economists refer to as the sum total of acts of production, exchange and consumption which constitutes the "Modern Capitalist Economy" - a characteristic of our very own Economic system.

The Chinese refer to this model as Capitalism with the Chinese characteristics.
So we may very well start to characterize our Economic model too and through platforms such as these, we will contribute towards a more responsive Economic Model with South African Characteristics.

The most inexorable logic of capital accumulation that we all know is that, the more you produce the more you must produce, the cheaper you must produce and the better products you must produce.

...because if you don't do so, others who are seeking greater security and comfort will displace you in the marketplace and you will therefore suffer reduced security and comfort.
So the keywords for me are Production, exchange, markets, savings, improved techniques( research and development), medium of exchange(money) and Economic growth.

The Pandemic although disruptive in many ways, but it presents a lot of opportunities in this process of Economic reset. In fact, one physicist and Chemist born in 1867 in Warsaw during the Russian Empire, Marie Curie puts it nicely, and she says “Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood “.

IMD and Productivity SA Partnership

Dating back to 1997 it is exactly 24 years now since the dawn of Democracy that South Africa has been participating in this data collection collated by the IMD Competitiveness Center.
We are very much aware of many other Institutions that are collecting data in South Africa which they use to calculate many other things but of great importance to us should always be the amount of hard and objective data that is used to determine our Country’s Productivity and Competitiveness.

It is the Usefulness of data collected by other Institutions which could be the IMD competitors such as the IMF, Bank of International Settlements, and WEF that we should measure against our challenges as a country.

Some Institutions use raw data, others sampled data, opinion data and there will be institutions such as the IMD that uses hard and objective data which has impacted positively in the most established economies.

I am informed that the IMD data is based on almost 356 variables and that it is hard, objective data and at most other sources such as the IMF and WEF, their data is based on 123 variables or less.

So if this is a correct analysis, then there is a huge discord in how we collect data, collate the same data and how we put data into good use for the Country’s Prosperity and this has to change.

I think as a country, for a very long time we've been focusing on data that has no meaningful solutions to our challenges and it is through partnerships such as Productivity SA and IMD that we find a true test in the solution and Prosperity driven initiatives. This should be our R&D Project and our Silicon Valley as a Country.

24 years is just too much for so much data that we collate but we are unable to put into Productive use for the Country’s Prosperity. Something very drastic has to happen and very soon.

I will also use this platform while we have other stakeholders here present, to challenge the IMD Business School to offer the Academic Exchange Programmes on MBA and EMBA as well as the High Performance Leadership Development Programmes to South Africans.

Specific priority must be given to Productivity SA and the Department of Employment and Labour as a symbol of good gesture and a contribution to the knowledge development in the country.

We are all aware that the last time we had the best rating was almost 16 years ago in 2005 and at the time we appreciate that there was no Pandemic.

But we are also mindful that, it is not only the Pandemic that wrecks havoc of Economies but the general lack of Preparedness in Innovation and Technology as well as the Research and Development has worsened the Pandemic crisis and contributed to the delay in Economic rebound.

The National Development Plan, our very own strategic document crafting the Country's destiny in 2030, outlines these phases of our development, and innovation is at the peak of our priorities.

Unfortunately we are now in the second decade of the NDP 2030, we are left with only 08 years towards reaching the 2030 target and we have not yet achieved the most basic target of the National Health Insurance.

So productive engagements such as this one that reflect on the Country’s decline by 03 notches and no improvement for the past 16 years, must reach the peak of our Government in South Africa and some implementation of the recommendations must be realized.

To this end, Productivity SA together with the IMD must develop a programme for engagement with all Government Departments and Entities as well as our Social Partners as matter of urgency.

Afterall it is the IMD core business to create environments where business thrives and the IMD Primary Focus is to talk to Governments. So this must happen.

In Conclusion
The times have changed Ladies and Gentlemen. Some of our allies are no longer with us and our friends no longer trust us.

In a country like ours where there is no civil war, the most devastating thing that could be far worse than a civil war, is the Economic Sabotage. So let's be careful who we collect data from, keep our enemies in check and always plan ahead of them.

There is something that other institutions are doing to gain presence and mileage in our Country that the IMD is probably not doing and I think this has to improve. I am very much aware that at most, for all data that is used by Government Preference has always been given to the WEF global competitive index in terms of the Medium Term Strategic Framework.

Much as the IMD and WEF could be competing Institutions, it is to the benefit of the Country to compare all data at our disposal and choose the most appropriate for our situation and put that into productive use.

So, I will be expecting a report in a few days from now from Productivity SA in terms of the roadmap to Present to the Department of Employment and Labour, Economic Cluster, Government Departments and Entities such as STATS SA, NEDLAC etc.

This report must find its way to the Planning Commission, the Presidency, National Treasury and the DTIC.

I think with this approach, we will be taking to the next level and lend importance to the work that has been done through this partnership for the last 24 years.

In my view this is the most appropriate thing to do if we were to move forward.

Once again, thank you very much for the invite and your audience.

I thank you.