We are having a bit of a reunion in Potchefstroom this week with a visit from Prof Wim Naudé. Wim was a Professor in the School of Economics and Director of WorkWell before he went on to the United Nations University WIDER in Helsinki and currently the Maastricht School of Management.
He has wide-ranging research interests and on Monday spoke at a TRADE roundtable on the topic: “A fresh look at industrialisation in die BRICS”. He covered a number of key issues including:
- the importance of manufacturing in the structural transformation of the economy and for economic growth,
- the role that innovation plays, and
- the role of foreign direct investment in technology development.
This draws on a recent book on the Pathways to industrialisation. For example, in an interesting comparison between the BRICS countries he showed the sectoral distribution of FDI – in Brazil, Russia and South Africa foreign investment has been going into resources, in India it is the services sector and in China is is manufacturing.
Wim also explained how all this, in turn, links up with the big questions of the day: skills-biased technological change and inequality. The message for South African policymakers is education and skills are even more important than everyone is saying. We are looking forward to how we will do in the new Global Competitiveness Index out this week!
Derick Blaauw and Anmar Pretorius attended a public lecture by Prof Jeffrey Sachs entitled: Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals in Africa, at the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences at the University of the Free State on 16 September 2015.
Professor Sachs is the Director of The Earth Institute, Quetelet Professor of Sustainable Development, and Professor of Health Policy and Management at Columbia University. He is Special Advisor to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on the Millennium Development Goals, having held the same position under former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan. He is Director of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network, cofounder and Chief Strategist of Millennium Promise Alliance, director of the Millennium Villages Project, one of the Secretary-General’s MDG Advocates, and a Commissioner of the ITU/UNESCO Broadband Commission for Development. He has authored three New York Times bestsellers in the past seven years.
In his lecture Professor Sachs provided the backdrop to the 17 new Sustainable Development Goals that all the UN member countries will sign next week and which will replace the Millennium Development Goals that expire this week. He urged South Africans, and universities in particular, to take ownership of these goals, to get involved in local communities, to backcast from a specific goal and timeframe and then determine how best to make it happen. This approach is in the spirit of the challenge laid down by former US president Kennedy in 1961 to put a man on the moon and return him safely to earth before the end of the decade.
It was an inspirational lecture on the evening before the graduation ceremony where the University of the Free State awarded an honorary doctorate in Economics to Professor Sachs.
One of the great benefits of having Prof Wilma Viviers as a WTO chair is that it gives the staff of the School, students and other TRADE participants access to top-flight training opportunities. Last week she hosted a Stata course with presenters from the WTO. This forms part of the curriculum development work done by the WTO chair. The focus was on a range of econometric techniques that can be used to analyse trade facilitation and implemented using Stata software. A special word of thanks to Cosimo and Simon for the excellent presentations.
Last week the School of Economics relocated to Cape Town for the biennial meeting of the Economic Society of South Africa at UCT. We presented an range of papers:
The opening plenary session
- Marianne Matthee and Maria Santana Gallego, Trade margins of South Africa: A gravity model approach
- Ewert Kleynhans and Moloto Joe Sekhobela Sekhobela, Intellectual capital of the various manufacturing sectors of South Africa
- Henri Bezuidenhout and Sonja Grater, The dimensions of FDI in the tourism sector in Africa
- Alicia Fourie and Waldo Krugell, Economic literacy of introductory economic students in South Africa: Is it on track?
- Neil Rankin, Marianne Matthee, Tasha Naughtin and Carli Bezuidenhout, Extensive and intensive margins of exporting and productivity amongst South African firms
- Ermie Steenkamp, Sonja Grater and Wilma Viviers, Identifying market access opportunities of South Africa’s exports in Sub-Saharan Africa
- Anmar Pretorius and Alain Kabundi, A factor analysis of global stock market integration
- Sandra Makumbirofa and Andrea Saayman, Forecasting demand for qualified labour in the South African hotel industry