And the Business Council plays a crucial role. It is there to ensure that, as a country, South Africa can channel Foreign Direct Investment from across the world, but mostly from Brazil, Russian, India and China. The chairperson of the BRICS business
When you identify an opportunity grab it, steer it and keep it on course with everything you have. I believe in steering true north, and now we have an opportunity to chart a new course for the great SAS South Africa.
As the chairperson of the BRICS business council, South Africa chapter; as an innovative entrepreneur and businessman, and above all else, a South African, I have many concerns.
Our high unemployment rate, educating our youth, equipping them with relevant skills, building infrastructure, our GDP and attracting Foreign Direct Investment are high on my agenda.
There is no argument that we are dealing with one of the most important destructive apartheid legacies, second-class education – which led to a myriad of social evils. The results of which needs more than just two decades to repair.
We have to credit our government for realising the goal for SA to be a partner in this multi-national forum. The State continues to amend policies and laws to create attractive conditions to draw investments.
It was after intense lobbying with economic giants and wealth-creating nations – Brazil, Russia, India and China – that we joined the partnership seven years ago. We set ourselves on a course and to roll back centuries of economic drought.
BRICS gives us an opportunity to create jobs, and work in tangent with the partnership to reskill and upskill our workforce.
Job opportunities are needed for all South Africans who have no work, but of more concern is that more than half of our young people do not have jobs.
The danger of young people living in poverty with no prospects is alarming, and so too is the concern that this can lead to social upheaval.
The International Labour Organisation estimates 52.3 percent of young people aged between 15 and 24 are unemployed, making us the second highest in the world. The global figure hovers around 13 percent.
It is not up to the government alone to fix this. The State is not a creator of a lot of jobs. This is where the private sector has a role to play, to work hand-in-hand with the government.
It is without question – for our economy to grow, we need to create jobs for millions of young people, SA participates in many multi-national institutions, like the United Nations, the African Union, and the G20.
Our partnership with BRICS is not meant to be at the exclusion of other investment partners like the EU and North America. It is intended to augment the partnership and draw increased investment.
But, protectionism politics from traditional trading partners like the Uited States and some European countries have had immediate negative economic consequences for South Africa and the 1.2 billion-strong African family.
To keep the ship afloat we have to remain innovative and in tune with our alliance. We must see BRICS as a flotilla, able to survive the headwinds and the storms.
One of the opportunities BRICS gives is to cut red tape and we have made some headway in that.
Even though our economy is smaller than the rest of the BRICS nations, we are equal partners when it comes to decision making and entering into agreements with other partners.
BRICS and the BRICS business council – the South African chapter which I lead by appointment of the government – oversee and guide infrastructure, deregulation, agribusiness, financial services, skills, manufacturing and energy and the green economy working groups.
We are preparing to attend the BRICS Summit in China. The high level meeting takes place from September 3 to 6.
The Business Council plays a crucial role. It is there to ensure that, as a country, we can channel Foreign Direct Investment from across the world, but mostly from Brazil, Russian, India and China.
Through BRICS we have access to the global market, and access to capital.
SA’s government debt is 51.7 percent of the GDP, most of the country’s budget goes towards servicing that debt and investing in infrastructure.
Therefore, because we are constrained, we can not invest in new opportunities to create jobs. But our partners in BRICS, who have the capital, are able to invest to create jobs.
Our GDP represents 0.48 percent of the world’s economy, compared to our BRICS partner China, whose GDP is 18.06 percent of the world economy.
BRICS accounts for about 40 percent of the world’s population and 22 percent of the world’s GDP. It is here where South Africa can play in the international arena, with the backing of BRICS, where we are equal partners.
Our partnership ensures increased political, cultural, economic and scientific collaboration.
When we seek out Foreign Direct Investment, we must ensure that there are skilled jobs, in addition to jobs in low cost manufacturing. We are aiming for investment that needs a higher skills level, like in car manufacturing.
The more skilled our workforce the more attractive we become for investments.
The BRICS Skills Development Working Group set up the BRICS Skill Governance Body to oversee the skills development for the labour force, which includes the learnings and challenges faced by skills development.
This is good news for South Africa because we have a skills mismatch in our economy and the Governance body will share their experience with us.
This year the biggest economic growth was in sectors identified by BRICS as key to unlocking the economy. According to Stats SA 62 000 jobs were created in manufacturing, 49 000 in finance and other business services and 26 000 in mining.
The year-on-year employment growth was driven by manufacturing (145 000), construction (143 000) and finance (152 000).
There is no doubt, we are on a road made of BRICS, cemented by the hopes and dreams of 3.6 billion people.