Speaking at an Economic Policy Dialogue hosted by the Department of Trade and Industry (dti) on Thursday, TIPS programme manager for trade and industrial policy, Dr Neva Makgetla, said the dti’s Industrial Policy Action Plan (IPAP) should encourage business to innovate new ideas and products.
She emphasised that the identified IPAP sectors and products should be earmarked for sustainability through innovation.
“For people to innovate they need a lot of support, including that of the state. We need to listen to what people need for them to innovate, so that we may be responsive to their needs,” she said.
She highlighted that some of the constraints for innovation were the fact that most of the innovators still lacked access to the markets for their goods and services, and did not have the know-how in terms of information technology. They also did not have access to finances.
Speaking at the same event through a video link, the Korean institutionalist and political economist from the University of Cambridge, Dr Ha-Joon Chang, emphasised the need for developing countries to utilise their industrial policies to ensure that they are competitive.
Chang said industrial policies had a negative connotation globally because countries tend to use them to protect themselves and their industries.
He argued that while vulnerable and infant industries should have short term protection, the goal should be to get industries in a position to become globally competitive.
“We need to tell people that protection has to be part of the industrial policy, but it should not isolate us from the rest of the world, alternatively it should assist us to become globally competitive,” he added.
Lindie Stroebel, who is the manager for economic intelligence and finance at the Agricultural Business Chamber, said both government and the private sector were applying the same theories in different ways in terms of industrial policy and innovation.
The session was attended by academia, organised labour and business, research think tanks, non-governmental organisations, the secretariat of the Trade and Industry Chamber of NEDLAC, as well as government officials.
The dialogue was also hosted in partnership with the African Programme on Rethinking Development Economies (APORDE) and TIPS.