Cape Town - Nobel laureate Paul Romer on Monday described South Africa as an "economic disappointment", citing the high levels of unemployment among the country's youth, calling it a "human catastrophe".
"It's a very hard story because there was this political miracle in this country which was then followed by economic disappointment and the thing I would point to is not so much the outsiders, but the under-utilisation of human talent in South Africa," Romer said.
He was part of a panel discussion in Cape Town at the fourth annual meeting of New Development Bank (NDB) in Cape Town.
The NDB is a multilateral finance institution established by the BRICS bloc of countries - Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.
Romer told delegates South Africa should not wait for educational reform but should rather get more people into jobs. "To have such extraordinary high unemployment levels especially among young people ... this is just a catastrophe for the future of this country," he said.
"Wages grow with years on the job, people learn on the job so a system that denies people a chance to have a job ... this is just a waste of human talent and its just a crushing mistake for the people involved."
Romer was a co-recipient of the 2018 Nobel memorial prize in economic sciences and was also at one stage a chief economist at the World Bank.