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Oct 19

An Emerging Debate: Whither Economic Freedom in South Africa?

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South Africa is an economic hub and powerhouse for Sub-Saharan Africa, accounting for roughly 60 percent of the region’s GDP. It also plays a vital role in the global economy as one of the world’s largest producers and exporters of gold and platinum. South Africa’s future political and economic stability, however, hinges on the capacity of its government and economy to tackle issues such as the lack of economic opportunity, high unemployment, poverty, and the structural legacy of Apartheid. South Africa also needs a growing economy in order to address endemic challenges ranging from HIV and AIDS and crime to education and infrastructure development.

Currently, South Africa’s economic freedom score (74th out of 179 ranked countries) in The Heritage Foundation/Wall Street Journal’s 2011 Index of Economic Freedom lags behind neighboring Botswana. To thrive, South Africa should confront the risks to future prosperity and stability that are reflected in its Index ranking. To achieve accelerated economic growth, many argue, requires increased access for all South Africans to land and capital, limited government interventions, incentivized private investment, and a strengthening of property rights and the rule of law.

 Powerful voices within the ruling African National Congress argue the opposite, demanding in the name of a disadvantaged majority the nationalization of vital industries, land seizures, and state intervention to advance social equality. Analyzing the developments in the ongoing debate between economic freedom and state intervention will go far in helping to shape the future of the “Rainbow Nation” as a regional and international economic player.

More About the Speakers

Keynote Remarks by
H.E. Ebrahim Rasool
Ambassador of the Republic of South Africa

Followed by a Panel Discussion with
Garreth Bloor
Member, Cape Town City Council

Tony Carroll
Vice President, Manchester Trade Ltd.

James M. Roberts
Research Fellow for Economic Freedom and Growth, Center for International Trade and Economics, The Heritage Foundation

Ray Walser, Ph.D.
Senior Policy Analyst, Douglas and Sarah Allison Center for Foreign Policy Studies, The Heritage Foundation (Moderator)