An important segment of the labour market received much needed attention from policymakers, academics and NGOs in Cape Town this week. REDl3x3 and the Poverty and lnequality lnitiative (PII) at UCT presented a Policy Colloquium on Youth, inequality and the labour market on 19 April 2016. Derick Blaauw from our School attended.
This is an opportune time for this type of initiative given that an estimated one third of youth in South Africa is unable to find employment, and more than 50 per cent live in poverty. The point of departure according to the programme note was twofold: Firstly the relationship between poverty and unemployment in South Africa is well established as is the one between education and employment. The programme note states further that research show that the lower a young person’s level of qualifications, the greater the probability is that they will be unemployed or employed in some form of marginal informal economic activity. The programme note captures the stark reality: “More than half of those, even with matric, are unemployed. And for those who drop out earlier, the likelihood of being unemployed is even higher. The alarming fact in South Africa is that less than half of those who enrol in first grade make it through matric. And of those, only 14% pass matric with university exemption. There is a massive cliff between the end of Grade 9 and Grade 12, when about half of all students give up on school. The structure of our economy is such that those with the lowest skills are the least likely to find employment. Half the population is now under the age of 25, and one fifth is aged between 15 and 24. ln societies where the economy is less unequal, or grows in a more inclusive way, this large youth cohort would constitute a “demographic dividend”. it should be the basis of an energetic, working society that could propel South Africa into a future of prosperity to be more equally shared. But the reality is that we have a large cohort of semi trained, probably disaffected youth who have scant chances of finding employment or accessing further training.”
This afternoon Prof Henri Bezuidenhout and the ECON616 class, along with TRADE, hosted Peter Draper of Tutwa Consulting for a seminar on trade policy.
The theme as AGOA and the future of SA-US trade relations and had a very interesting international political economy angle. Peter first explained the strategic context, putting AGOA into perspective. Then he focused on the current issues, specifically the case of poultry. In his analysis, the US won this first battle, but with AGOA set to expire in 2025, there are any number of possible skirmishes ahead – many of which will be about US foreign direct investment and the regulation of multinationals. The chance that a free trade agreement (FTA) will replace AGOA looks slim: on the one hand there are protectionist views and powerful interest groups in South Africa, and on the other hand the US has an inflexible gold-standard-FTA template that they are not keen to negotiate around. The alternative could be a new agreement on a Most Favoured Nation (MFN) trade basis, but here South African agricultural products and vehicles looks set to lose. How government and business will respond brings us back to political economy.
Our Research posts are about the latest academic research being done in the School of Economics. This week:
The Governance of Shale Gas Production in South Africa
by Geoffrey Chapman, Dr. Requier Wait and Prof. Ewert Kleynhans
The proper governance of shale gas mining in the Karoo region of South Africa is important. With an estimated 390 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of recoverable shale gas, large economic gains are possible. This may radically change the South African energy sector. In the United States of America, similar explorations have led to a so-called ‘shale gas revolution’.
The development and production of shale gas hold economic advantages, but also potential environmental costs. The regulation of fracking activities is an important consideration as the Karoo’s shale gas development progresses.
This study reviews the regulations imposed in other countries, as well as the current regulatory framework of South Africa. These regulations are considered in terms of the content of fracking fluid, seismic activity and the pricing regime. Effective regulation will be a key determinant to ensure an overall positive impact of shale gas development on the South African economy and its population.
This research is published in the South African Journal of International Affairs, 23(1):69–88.
Geoff is a Commonwealth PhD Scholar, University of Nottingham, United Kingdom;
Requier is a Manager: Risk Management (Economics), KPMG (SA);
Prof Ewert is at the School of Economics, North-West University, Potchefstroom campus
Every now and then economists get involved in the community!
George with the king and queen!
During the March holidays, the 2016 South African Junior Closed Chess Championship was held in Bloemfontein. This is where the bright young minds of South Africa battle it out on a chess board to be crowned as South African champions. Only 30 players per age category (i.e. U8, U10, U12, U14, U16, U18 and U20) are invited to participate in this prestigious event.
While other sport, based on physical ability, attracts lot of sponsorship and media coverage in South Africa, chess as a game of strategy and mental ability is often neglected. At the School of Economics we recognise that some of the brightest young minds and future leaders of the country can be found among the chess playing youth.
Staff from the School of Economics therefore pulled together to sponsor one player from Dr Kenneth Kaunda District who was invited to participate in this championship. George Bernet participated in the U14-boys category and finished 8th, losing only 2 of his 11 games. He dreams to become a Chess Grandmaster – the highest title any chess player can attain – and thanks everyone for bringing him one step closer to this dream.
(and thanks to Prof Andrea Saayman for taking the lead with this initiative)