As South Africa looks to navigate itself out of a COVID-induced recession and to restore economic growth and create new jobs, a more active and informed policy response is needed. As a small, open and exposed economy, the policy options available to South Africa are somewhat limited. The uncertain global environment, coupled with an increasingly fragile domestic fiscal situation, has further reduced this policy space. On the other hand, the country’s lived experience over the last decade clearly demonstrates that the existing policy framework is not working fast enough. Different and more purposeful policy reforms are needed to alter the trajectory of the slow-growing South African economy.
The papers published under this project highlight some of the most obvious areas in which policy change should be immediately considered. In this overview, we first outline some notable trends and developments in the South African economy, including the recent impact of COVID-19. We then review the contribution of selected government policies to the country’s economic performance and consider alternative approaches that may serve to generate faster and sustainable growth. This paper concludes with some specific recommendations for immediate policy reform.