In collaboration with ERSA (Economic Research Southern Africa)

The inaugural PSG #ThinkBigSA competition

Submission deadline: 30 August 2024



In collaboration with ERSA (Economic Research Southern Africa)

The inaugural PSG #ThinkBigSA competition

Submission deadline:
30 August 2024

With this new competition we want South Africans to become aware, involved and bring forward positive, constructive solutions, leading to a sustainable future for our country.

PSG is a leading professional financial services company that proudly serves more than 500 000 clients in South Africa. As a firm we believe in the people and potential of the country, and as a responsible corporate citizen we contribute to its growth and play an active role in driving the progress of South Africa.

With this new competition we want South Africans to become aware, involved and bring forward positive, constructive solutions, leading to a sustainable future for our country. We plan to run the competition annually dealing with topical, relevant and real-world challenges.


Since 2004, Economic Research Southern Africa (ERSA) has served as the premier platform for economics researchers across Southern Africa to publish their work, access funding, participate in conferences and training programmes, and contribute to debate on public policy.

We are an independent institution that works to improve the quality of the public debate on economic policy through our own research and by convening dialogues among leading international economists and local academics, public-sector officials and private-sector professionals.  We are particularly committed to promoting rigorous research that can inform robust policymaking to address the challenges of growth and development. 

2024 TOPIC:

Inclusive Economic Growth

in South Africa

2024 will mark South Africa’s thirtieth year as a democracy. And, while progress has been made on the integration of society, the country seems to have fallen short of expectations on many other fronts. South Africa’s low levels of economic growth have remained a seemingly intractable problem and attempts at economic reform have done little to realise the country’s potential. What’s more, low growth is further exacerbating social problems like crime and corruption, creating a negative feedback loop that in turn undermines the country’s ability to make meaningful progress.

The challenges that contribute to such negative feedback loops include:

However, South Africa’s multi-faceted economic challenge is further set against a global backdrop. It is not simply a matter of ‘any growth’ will do. Growth must be sustainable, and it has to work for society as a whole. It must, above all else, be inclusive, balanced and fair, and help the country make tangible progress when it comes to addressing inequality. How are we to address this challenge, especially when the shortcomings of a redistributive policy, more than three decades on, are so painfully obvious?



With this in mind, PSG Financial Services invites the country’s fellow “Big Picture Thinkers” to apply their minds to this problem by presenting a discussion document (see criteria below) on how to tackle the deeply intertwined challenges that seem to limit South Africa’s growth potential. Please support with verifiable, quantitative justifications for any recommendations.

Present your arguments for why your approach will help to address the systemic challenge facing the country. You may want to touch on some (or all) of the issues listed above and the approaches below.

Approaches to be considered:

We encourage using an innovative model to tackle this topic. While optimal control theory stands out, different models can be applied and all model approaches will be considered. Qualifying papers should explain potential conflicting policy objectives, binding constraints to be considered and should include the required trade-offs to design optimal inclusive economic growth policies.



Because we believe that the submissions could have a significant impact on rethinking growth strategies in South Africa, we are offering prizes for the top 3 articles

1st prize

R 300 000

2nd prize

R 100 000

3rd prize

R 50 000



Mamokete Lijane

CFA. Chair - ERSA and Strategist in Global Markets

Prof William Gumede

Associate Professor - Political Associate Professor, Public and Development Management, School of Governance, University of the Witwatersrand; and Founder and Executive Chairperson, Democracy Works Foundation

Michael Sachs

Adjunct Professor at the Southern Centre for Inequality Studies at the University of the Witwatersrand

Gracelin Baskaran

Research Director and Senior Fellow, Energy Security and Climate Change Program

Prof Philippe Burger

Professor of Economics, and the Dean, Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences at the University of the Free state



The paper has to adhere to ERSA discussion document requirements:

A discussion document analyses a particular issue and offers policy recommendations.  The document describes the problem or issue being addressed, analyses its root causes, evaluates policy options for addressing the problem or its causes, and recommends a way forward.  

Generally, the analysis is narrative-driven, relying on existing work (academic and grey literature and secondary data) and high-level analysis, although original analysis is welcome.

 The quality of the discussion document will be judged according to the following dimensions (in no particular order):


The document should be between 3000 and 5000 words in length. Ideally, it will include a brief introduction, an analysis or quantitative and qualitative data, and a set of policy recommendations based on the findings of the analysis. The policy implications must be framed in terms of a current policy challenge South Africa is faced with. The document should be referenced with a bibliography.


We recommend following a similar structure to the below:

COVID-19 and the South African Economy


The discussion document must be submitted in Word, with headings clearly marked, and charts must be in a format such that the data and graphics are fixed. If it is a picture, please make sure it has a high resolution so that it is good quality.


Discussion documents can be entered either by individuals or groups. The prize money will not change.

Affiliates of the PSG Financial Services Group, a licensed controlling company, are authorised financial services providers.

PSG #ThinkBigSA:


Submission deadline: 30 August 2024

Are you ready to contribute to the economic evolution of South Africa? PSG Financial Services, in partnership with Economic Research Southern Africa (ERSA), is thrilled to launch the PSG #ThinkBigSA competition. We call upon South Africa’s insightful thinkers and visionary minds to engage with the pressing issue of Inclusive Economic Growth.

As we commemorate thirty years of democracy in 2024, the challenge to catalyze sustainable and inclusive economic advancement has never been more critical. This competition provides a unique platform to voice your innovative solutions and potentially shape the future of our nation’s economy.

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Accepted file types: pdf, Max. file size: 512 MB.