Wits students engaged each other about economic issues and the notion of inclusive economic growth in Africa. 

Wits student organisation, #BringingGlobalInvestmentsToYou hosted a discussion on investment and inclusive growth in Africa on Saturday, May 13, at the Wits Science Stadium.

The panelists included Power FM radio personality and producer Nompumeleko Mlambo, Wits economic lecturer Tlhalefang Moeletsi, Kgosi Diphokwane, ASIP (Association of Black and Investment Professionals), Wits student chairperson, and Tefo Mokhine, ASIP student leader of the year. The discussion was designed to create awareness about economic issues in Africa and youth participation in the economy.

Inclusive economic growth means a huge number of people of people are active and engaging in the economy, Mokhine explained. “About 11.3 million young people in South Africa, who are well capable of working, are unemployed,” he added.

Mokhine added that the root of South Africa’s economic problems lies in the challenge of unemployment, and that people are unemployed because they are not skilled or that they are skilled in the fields that are no longer applicable.

“The way for us to achieve inclusive economic growth is by adopting new ways of learning and doing the validation,” he said.

Moeletsi said SA’s downgrade to junk status is not as bad as it could be.  “South African debt is 90% local and 10% international,” Moeletsi said. He added that the downgrade doesn’t have a significant effect as it would if a large portion of South Africa’s debt was foreign. However, he highlighted that if there are no changes economically, SA’s foreign debt will increase.

Moeletsi said, “It is going to be difficult for the national treasury to depend on domestic financial markets. If there is no economic growth, companies are not growing. The national treasury will depend on borrowing more from, the IMF and the World Bank.”

He added that losing the control of the economy results in losing sovereignty, because international institutions impose policies when a country borrows money. “The World Bank has lent Eskom millions of rands, what the World Bank says and what the World Bank thinks, matters,” Moeletsi said.

The panel also criticised international financial ratings agencies. Diketso Phokungwane, the founder of Bringing Global Investments to you, questioned the geographic location of the rating agencies. “Why can’t we have a South African rating agencies?” Phokungwane asked.  “All the credit agencies are in the United States. If you check only two countries in South Africa are not in junk status, Namibia and Botswana, the rest of Africa is junk status,” he said.

The panel agreed that taking back the power of the economy requires a new generation of black consumers with conscious. People have to have to be conscious about the products they consume and where those products are manufactured, they said.