Brian Levy and Alan Hirsch on the challenge of economic inclusion in South Africa

WIDER Webinar Series, 2 November 2021

Brian Levy and Alan Hirsch on the challenge of economic inclusion in South Africa

Brian Levy and Alan Hirsch join WIDER webinar series to discuss their recent research on the combination of strong institutions and massive inequalities in South Africa. The webinar session is chaired by UNU-WIDER Senior Research Fellow Rachel Gisselquist.

Why ‘good governance’ is not enough: Can South Africa meet the challenge of economic inclusion?

For the first fifteen years after its transition to democracy, South Africa enjoyed a season of hope. However, unresolved, deeply-rooted inequalities festered beneath the surface. Moreover, continuing contestation for ‘insider status’ among emerging elites, a missing ladder of opportunity for the poor, compounded by weak growth,  made it difficult for non-elites to climb out of poverty. This led to ongoing institutional corrosion, and a broader turn from hope to despair across society.

Since becoming president in 2018, Cyril Ramaphosa has determinedly, and quite successfully, worked to restore rule-based governance. However, there has been little effort to shift the country onto a more inclusive development path. In this seminar, Brian Levy and Alan Hirsch will explore why this has been the case, and what can be done to move South Africa onto a more inclusive trajectory.

About the speakers

Brian Levy teaches at the School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University and was the founding Academic Director of the Nelson Mandela School of Public Governance, University of Cape Town.  He worked at the World Bank from 1989 to 2012. He has published widely on the interactions among institutions, political economy and development policy, including the book Working with the Grain: Integrating Governance and Growth in Development Strategies (Oxford U Press, 2014).

Alan Hirsch is Emeritus Professor at The Nelson Mandela School of Public Governance at the University of Cape Town (UCT) and founding director 2011-2019. Hirsch was born in Cape Town and educated at UCT, Wits and Columbia. He taught at UCT, joined the SA Department of Trade and Industry in 1995, from 2002 managed economic policy in the South African Presidency, represented the President in the G20, and was co-chair of the G20 Development Working Group.

He is a Fellow of the Oxford Martin School, Oxford University, serves on the Board of the European Centre for Development Policy Management and on President Ramaphosa’s Economic Advisory Council. He was visiting scholar at the Harvard Business School, regular visiting professor at Maastricht University, IGC research director in Zambia, OECD Inclusive Growth Advisory Panel-member, on the International Advisory Board of the New Development Bank, and Bradlow Fellow at the SA Institute for International Affairs. His work includes books Season of Hope - Economic Reform under Mandela and Mbeki and The Oxford Companion to South African Economics.