Dr Iraj Abedian: Why SA’s manufacturing sector should pin down its success at home

Last week, Proudly SA released a 60-page commissioned study on the manufacturing sector and its impact on the economy. Titled Revitalising SA’s Manufacturing Sector, it shows up the cracks in a sector that has been on the decline for the last 15 years. And yet, the study offers hope.

Dambisa Maqoga. Top economist and leader of the Pan-African Investment and Research Services team, Dr Iraj Adedian.

There is a way to turn this crisis around, says Dr Iraj Abedian, who led the Pan-African Investment & Research Services team in producing the report.

One of the highlights of the report is his attempt at quantifying what a 10% increase in investment in this sector would lead to in terms of output in jobs, and what the resultant tax-contribution outcomes would be.The bottom line: the creation of 73,000 jobs.

Here, in candid conversation, Abedian unpacks what ‘Buy Local, Manufacture Local’ potentially means for South Africans, and just how important it is to get the narrative right.

In line with what has come out of your study, who – if anyone – will be initiating conversations with industry stakeholders on how to boost investment in the manufacturing sector?

Operationally up until now, it’s been the Department of Trade and Industry [DTI] that would be mandated to send the invites, but it’s not only them, because when it comes to the ocean economy, the mandate would be that of the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment to initiate talks, and if it involves rural land, the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development would be tasked with that.

But the backbone to all of these discussions would be initiated by the DTI.