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Patel on Government’s Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic

June 29, 2020

Department of Trade, Industry and Competition

Government needs to take the opportunity presented by COVID-19 to build a new economy.

The trade, industry and competition minister, Ebrahim Patel, revealed this during a recent national council of provinces debate on government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The minister confirmed that one area of action flowing from the pandemic is to lay the foundations for a post-COVID economy as South Africa cannot go back to a pre-COVID economy.

“We must take the opportunity now to build the more inclusive, dynamic and jobs-rich economy that the vision of the Freedom Charter entails.”

According to the minister, the work on the new economy is “on-going and involves identifying new industrial and economic opportunities that we need to utilize”.

Opportunities include:

• essential goods production and local industrial value-chains, looking at new opportunities with production of medical supplies, including pharmaceuticals and medical equipment;
• speeding up infrastructure development;
• repairing social damage: construction and maintenance of health, housing, sanitation, water, roads;
• identifying local input production: cement, bricks, steel, paints, equipment;
• local production of consumer appliances;
• promoting industrial dynamism: skills, innovation and productivity; greener economy, using new technologies (batteries/fuel cells), retrofit, global funds;
• digital technologies – access for small businesses and township enterprises;
• speeding up our work on African integration: continental supply-chains and greater levels of industrialization; and
• economic inclusion and transformation: strengthening cooperatives, SMEs and township enterprises with measures to mainstream women, youth and black South Africans in the economy

The minister emphasized that the work ahead is about building state capacity towards a new entrepreneurial state that can drive development.