South Africa serves as an economic and political leader for the continent. On the global stage, it represents Africa among the major emerging market BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa). In recent years, however, persistent domestic challenges including unemployment, income inequality, difficult labor relations, and high energy costs have undermined economic growth—expected to hover around 1 percent GDP growth in 2016. External shocks, including falling commodity prices, a possible slowdown in China, and tightening financial conditions, have further exacerbated these issues. In order to mitigate these shocks and break from the trajectory of stagnating growth, South Africa has presented a bold agenda in its 2016 budget, which strives to strengthen the country’s resilience, expand economic opportunities particularly among the youth, and promote inclusive, pro-poor growth.
On April 14, the Africa Growth Initiative at Brookings hosted a conversation with the Honorable Pravin Gordhan, minister of finance for the Republic of South Africa, on strategies for building social cohesion and promoting inclusive development in South Africa and the African continent. Minister Gordhan’s remarks were followed by a conversation with Brookings Senior Fellow and Director of the Africa Growth Initiative Amadou Sy and questions from the audience.