Pretoria, Wednesday 25 July 2018 – The Human Sciences Research Council has been awarded a prestigious grant by the United Nations University to investigate the catalytic role of tradable services in Southern Africa’s growth and development.
The study will be led by Professor Ivan Turok and Dr Justin Visagie, and will look at how know-how and technical capabilities can boost Southern Africa’s prosperity through shared expertise, mutual learning and practical support for investment in economic development and urban infrastructure.
Through Agenda 2063 and related plans, the African Union has highlighted the need to accelerate industrialisation throughout the continent in order to eliminate poverty and underdevelopment. Knowledge-intensive services can add enormous value to traditional mining, agriculture and manufacturing sectors by upgrading their products and improving their processes.
The recent signing of the African Continental Free Trade Area indicated a commitment to boost trade and deepen regional integration in the context of looming global trade wars and rising protectionism. Observers such as the World Bank have long identified weak integration of African economies into global and regional value chains as a constraint to growth and job creation.
At a time of major technological disruption, commonly referred to as the Fourth Industrial Revolution, it is particularly important for businesses and governments to invest in human capital and to share their expertise. Specialised knowledge and technical capabilities can enhance competitiveness, spur industrialisation and raise living standards.
The study will investigate the detailed flows of service-related imports and exports within the sub-continent. In-depth interviews will also be undertaken with senior executives in business and industry associations to explore the opportunities and obstacles facing increased trade in knowledge-intensive services.
It is envisaged that the outcomes of this study will include a series of recommendations to support accelerated trade and industrialisation across Africa through improved access to know-how and professional expertise.
The study is funded by the United Nations University World Institute for Development Economics Research (UNU-WIDER) in collaboration with the National Treasury and the Department of Trade and Industry. It is part of a programme of research aimed at supporting regional growth and development in Southern Africa.
Interviews can be facilitated with Professor Turok and Dr Visagie.
Notes to the Editor
About the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC)
The HSRC was established in 1968 as South Africa’s statutory research agency and has grown to become the largest dedicated research institute in the social sciences and humanities on the African continent, doing cutting-edge public research in areas that are crucial to development.
Our mandate is to inform the effective formulation and monitoring of government policy; to evaluate policy implementation; to stimulate public debate through the effective dissemination of research-based data and fact-based research results; to foster research collaboration; and to help build research capacity and infrastructure for the human sciences.
The Council conducts large-scale, policy-relevant, social-scientific research for public sector users, non-governmental organisations and international development agencies. Research activities and structures are closely aligned with South Africa’s national development priorities.
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