Okonjo-Iweala with South Africa President, Cyril Ramaphosa

Nigeria’s former Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has been appointed a member of the Economic Advisory Council set up by President Cyril Ramaphosa to help give South Africa a coherent economic policy.

The appointment was for a term of three years.

South Africa is currently experiencing economic downturn as it entered its second recession in two years. South Africa said the economy shrank 1.4 per cent in the fourth quarter, following a revised 0.8 per cent contraction in the third quarter. Agriculture declined 7.6 per cent, transport 7.2 per cent, construction 5.9 per cent, electricity 4 per cent and retail 3.8 per cent, the data showed.

The former minister tweeted on Saturday, saying that she met with President Cyril Ramaphosa, and members of the Presidential Economic Advisory Council in Pretoria. The meeting was on Friday, the second by the council.

“With President Ramaphosa, members of cabinet, and members of the Presidential Economic Advisory Council in Pretoria discussing sources of growth for the South African economy and win-win economic interactions with the continent,” she tweeted.

South Africa’s Presidential Economic Advisory Council

Ramaphosa set up the council in September, to take effect from 1 October.

The Council was announced by President Ramaphosa in the State of the Nation Address to ensure greater coherence and consistency in the implementation of economic policy and ensure that government and society in general is better equipped to respond to changing economic circumstances.

Comprising local and international economic thought leaders, the Council will advise the President and government more broadly, facilitating the development and implementation of economic policies that spur inclusive growth.

President Ramaphosa

The Council is a non-statutory and independent body chaired by the President and brings together prominent economists and technical experts drawn from academia, the private sector, labour, community, think tanks and other constituencies. The members, who will volunteer their time and be compensated for subsistence and travel, are appointed to serve a three-year term.

A statement issued by his office indicated moves to appoint “a seasoned economist and leader from West Africa who has accepted an invitation for her to serve as a member of the Council”. It is now clear it was Okonjo-Iweala that Ramaphosa had in mind.

The original members of the council are: Prof Benno Ndulu, who Served as the Governor of the Bank of Tanzania from 2008 until 2018; Prof Mzukisi Qobo: Professor of International Business, who has written extensively on trade and political economy and Prof Dani Rodrik, Professor of International Political Economy at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University.

Other members are Mariana Mazzucato, Professor in the Economics of Innovation and Public Value, and Director of the Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose at the University College London, Mamello Matikinca-Ngwenya, First National Bank Chief Economist, Dr Renosi Mokati, former Executive and Dean, University of South Africa Graduate School of Business Leadership (SBL), Dr Kenneth Creamer is an academic economist based at the University of the Witwatersrand; Prof Alan Hirsch: Director of the Graduate School of Development Policy and Practice, University of Cape Town.

Also named were Prof Tania Ajam who teaches public financial management at the University of Stellenbosch School of Public Leadership, Dr Grové Steyn, one of South Africa’s leading infrastructure and regulatory economists, Mr Wandile Sihlobo: Agricultural Economist and Head of Agribusiness Research at the Agricultural Business Chamber of South Africa, Dr Liberty Mncube, former Chief Economist at the Competition Commission and current scholar at Wits University; Fiona Tregenna, Professor in the Department of Economics and Econometrics at the University of Johannesburg and Haroon Bhorat, Professor of Economics and Director of the Development Policy Research Unit, University of Cape Town.

The list of advisers had Mr Ayabonga Cawe, a development economist, Vusi Gumede: professor at the University of South Africa and former Director of the Thabo Mbeki African Leadership Institute, Dr Thabi Leoka, an economist and Prof Imraan Valodia: Economist and Dean of the Faculty of Commerce, Law and Management at the University of Witwatersrand.

President Ramaphosa thanked the Council members for accepting the invitation to serve South Africa’s development in their capacity as members of the Presidential Economic Advisory Council and assured them that their insights, critiques and recommendations will ultimately serve to build a sustainable and inclusive economy that meets the needs of citizens and is globally competitive at the same time.