Latest thinking on industrial policy

  • Date: Wednesday, 31 May 2017
  • Time: 13.30-16.00
  • Venue: TIPS Boardroom, 234 Lange St, Nieuw Muckleneuk, Pretoria
  • Main Speakers: Sandy Lowitt and Neva Makgetla (TIPS) Discussant: Garth Strachan (Department of Trade and Industry)
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Practical Ideas in Heterodox Industrial Policy Thinking: Sandy Lowitt (TIPS Research Fellow)
South Africa's Industrial Policy - by the Numbers: Neva Makgetla (TIPS Senior Economist)

Discussant: Garth Strachan (DDG: Industrial Development Division, Department of Trade and Industry)


Industrial Policy in the 21st century has fundamentally changed in nature. (Largely) gone is the achingly abstract discussion of the motivations behind industrial policy and whether it is a good idea or not. In its place is a recognition that industrial policy is undertaken everywhere in the world, even if it is not openly called industrial policy. It is now widely accepted that industrial policy is a response to market failure just as education policy or health policy are responses to such failures. This normalisation of industrial policy has allowed economists to stop focusing on defending and justifying the pursuit of industrial policy (especially in lagging economies). Instead they can now focus on extant, fine-grained, real world problems facing incumbent policymakers operating in difficult situations. Through this lens, problems with industrial policy design and implementation are viewed - not as insurmountable - but merely the normal course of business which any sensible policy framework must address.

The presentation by Sandy Lowitt will cover her recent Paper on Industrial Policy and she will present three pragmatic industrial policy implementation ideas based on recent heterodox thinking, which is the subject of her recent Policy Brief.

The presentation by Dr Makgetla will look at the overall patterns of industrial development since 1994 and cover key sectors in the economy that have been targeted for industrial policy. Given the shifts in the context of manufacturing since the transition to democracy, a review of key trends in the sector over the past two decades should yield important insights for policy in the coming period. Key questions include the evolution of the structure of production and investment within manufacturing; the impact of the commodity boom and exchange-rate fluctuations on manufacturing profitability and production; and the shifts in ownership and control since 1994.


Sandy Lowitt is a TIPS Research Associate. She holds a Master of Commerce from Wits University in Economics. She established the Economics Department in the Gauteng Provincial Government in 1995 and remained at with GPG until 2006. While specialising in economic research and industrial policy and strategy she also created and ran Blue IQ, which delivered projects such as the Gautrain, the Innovation hub and the automotive supplier park. Since leaving the government, Sandy has remained active in public policy research and strategy development.

Neva Makgetla is a senior economist at TIPS. Makgetla has published widely on the South African economy and worked for many years in government, most recently as Deputy Director General for Policy in the Economics Development Department, as well as in COSATU.