JOHANNESBURG – Business Unity SA (Busa) announced on Friday that it would be hosting its second Business Economic Indaba 2020 (BEI2020) on January 14.
Busa president Sipho Pityana described the event as “an important engagement with President Cyril Ramaphosa and his cabinet colleagues”.
Pityana said in a statement that Ramaphosa had accepted Busa’s invitation to attend, as well as a range of other government leaders, and the indaba has been structured to ensure a clear emphasis on real and actionable outcomes and the formation of new practical partnerships – under the theme “Activating Actual Outcomes”.
“This will be an opportunity for the government to interact with business leaders from virtually every sector of the economy,” said Pityana. “Through engagements like this, we hope to catalyse the national mood and shape 2020 into a year of decisive action on key economic reforms. Most importantly, we aim to develop new issue-specific partnerships that will rescue the economy – and South Africa with it.
“We are doing this because of our firm belief that business has a crucial role to play in ensuring South Africa’s economic and social revival. But we have to be frank, we can only do so if there is a national agenda for economic recovery, driven by a committed government, around which we can plan, support and mobilise resources,” he said.
Pityana said the organisation believed that businesses had a crucial role to play in ensuring South Africa’s economic and social revival and that the country needed an urgent and focused discussion with the government to bring that about. “That is precisely why we are hosting BEI2020 now – we urgently need to map out, as business and government, what can be done to address the serious economic crisis we find ourselves is.”
He said: “South Africa is facing an unprecedented economic crisis – the longest economic downswing since 1945. We had an average economic growth rate of 1.5 percent over the last decade, compared to over 4 percent in other emerging economies.
“Government debt ballooned from 26 percent in 2008 to 56 percent of the gross domestic product in 2019. Alongside this, unemployment has risen to almost 30 percent (there are now 10 million people unemployed), and we are sitting on a powder-keg of unemployed youth with little or no future. As if this is not enough, we are also facing a real prospect of a sovereign rating downgrade that could exacerbate these conditions.”
To guide discussions at BEI2020, BUSA has outlined five key focus areas that will be workshopped for the bulk of the day and will focus on how to forge greater business and government collaboration.
The focus areas are:
Enabling a capable state.
Critical sectors for economic growth.
The structure of the economy.
The 4th Industrial Revolution.
The opening addresses will be delivered by President Ramaphosa and Pityana.
Prominent business leaders will be in attendance, including those from Busa affiliated business associations, chairmen and chief executives of blue-chip corporates, Busa’s local and international partners and associates.