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Discussing economic models for inclusive growth
"The Social Market Economy: A Model for South Africa?"

Trevor Manuel, former Finance Minister of South Africa, was on the panel with Prof Markus Beckmann, Chair, Corporate Sustainability Management, Friedrich Alexander University Erlangen-Nuremberg, for this seminar we co-hosted with our partners from the CPLO in Cape Town.

Eminent experts: SA's former Finance Minister and German Professor

Eminent experts: SA's former Finance Minister and German Professor


With the current worldwide Covid crisis, unemployment and inequality are increasing in South Africa as well. Many see the current situation also as an opportunity to discuss alternative economic models - and these must also focus on the practical role the state and the market should play to achieve inclusive sustainable growth.

Can the “Social Market Economy“ be adapted to the South African context and be successfull here? What is its history, and what are its crucial characteristics? Do they align with the current situation in South Africa?

These were the questions for the panelists and the large audience at the seminar which included many eminent decision makers and other exerts. 

An online room filled with people: huge interest in the event documents relevance of the topic

Huge interest in the event documents relevance of the topic


Professor Beckmann gave a comprehensive overview of the historic situation in Germany during its introduction of the model. Using  graphs and historic and current photographs, he spoke on the generation of the ideas behind the model by economists and other specialists, decision making processes involving diverse stakeholder groups as well as key aspects of the model in theory and practice. 

Trevor Manuel argued the current South African situation differed substantially from the one prevalent in post-war Germany at the time. He also cautioned that, for it to work successfully, the model would require institutional strengths and other societal characteristics not necessarily given here at this point. Moreover, he added that modern challenges of digitalisation, growing inequality and an ageing population in Germany would probably require innovative adaptations of the model there as well. 

The Daily Maverick published a very insightful article by Peter Fabricius about the seminar: "Searching for a blueprint to rescue SA: Tips from Germany’s social market economy model". Read it here.

A full recording of the event has been made available on the website of the CPLO - watch the video.