LOCALISATION: What is realistic?

AN INDEPENDENT STUDY PREPARED BY INTELLIDEX
FOR BUSINESS UNITY SOUTH AFRICA & BUSINESS LEADERSHIP SOUTH AFRICA

Presented by Cas Coovadia (CEO Business Unity South Africa) & Busi Mavuso CEO (Business Leadership South Africa)

Localisation has been highlighted by the government as a key policy aim during the recovery of the economy from the Covid-19 crisis. Organised business in Nedlac has been asked to substitute 20% of non-petroleum goods imports for domestically produced goods as soon as possible.

This study assesses whether such a target is realistic through three parts. First, a literature review was conducted, placing such a policy aim within the context of South Africa’s own history of industrial policy and with evidence from other countries. Second, a quantitative study looks at how the import, manufacturing, and capacity data can give us insights on such a target and whether it is possible to
reach it. Third,  125 firms were surveyed across sectors to understand views on localisation and how fast they believe they can localise, what the constraints are, and a range of related matters.

Overall, we found that the 20% substitution target, in the short to medium term, is most likely not realistic – taking the evidence from the three chapters in this report. However, these targets could well be realistic over the longer term with broader reforms in place that stimulate domestic demand and competitiveness.

29 APRIL 2021