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Marié Kirsten.
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In this edition:
GTAC's annual report

GTAC’s third annual report, which covers its work from April 2016 to March 2017, was tabled in Parliament recently. This was an exciting year for GTAC, and the annual report uses interviews with unit managers to reflect on achievements, project stories and the challenges that lie ahead. Tumisang Moleke, head of the Transaction Advisory and PPP unit, discusses the Gautrain and the Parks Board to show how the PPP unit can provide temporary capacity to entities where it does not make sense for them to invest in their own capacity. He says, ‘The best capacity building comes from actually working with GTAC on your PPP. You get exposed to the whole project cycle, and participate actively in the steps within each stage.’ GTAC’s Public Expenditure Review and Policy Analysis unit prepared summaries of all its completed reviews this past year, including reviews of the National Skills FundArtisan Development and Government rental office accommodation. All of the summaries are available on the GTAC website. According to Ronette Engela, head of the unit, the reliable numbers provided by the reviews augment the ‘understanding of the fiscal implications of policy and implementation decisions’.

The seventh edition of Rand Merchant Bank’s investment attractiveness index has just been published. The report, called Where to invest in Africa, assesses economic activity and the relative ease of doing business in different African countries. Lower levels of economic activity in several countries are reflected in lower scores on the index this year. For example, both Nigeria and Algeria lost their top-10 positions, with Nigeria falling from 6th to 13th and Algeria from 10th to 15th. Ethiopia and Rwanda, on the other hand, gained three and four places respectively. South Africa lost its first place for the first time since the inception of the report, ceding its position as Africa’s most attractive investment destination to Egypt.
See also this report in Business Day Live.
For the previous six reports, please click here.

The latest issue of
Development Southern Africa is now available. Interesting articles in this issue include: 

Is there a trade-off between the employment and wages of unskilled African South Africans?’, by Gareth Roberts & Volker Schöer.
Infrastructure implications of a green economy transition in the Western Cape Province of South Africa: A system dynamics modelling approach’, by Theodore Anthony York, Alan Colin Brent, Josephine Kaviti Musango & Imke Hanlu de Kock.
South African trends in medical aid coverage and stated healthcare-seeking preferences: 2004–14’, by Kehinde Omotoso & Steven F Koch. 

What defines the middle class?

Business Day reported this week on the findings of a NIDS research paper published August 2017 – ‘Social stratification, life chances and vulnerability to poverty in South Africa’, by Simone Schotte, Rocco Zizzamia and Murray Leibbrandt. Using NIDS data, they define five main social classes: the elite, the stable middle class, the vulnerable middle class, the transitory poor and the chronic poor. Only one in four South Africans are part of the first two classes – the stable middle class and the elite. A further 14% fall into the vulnerable middle class and about 13% could be classified as part of the transitory poor. The rest — about half of the population — are chronically poor, with scant chance of moving into the middle class. 
The results show that the key determinants of economic stability for households are the level of education of the household head and access to stable income from the labour market. From this the authors conclude that improving access to quality higher and tertiary education, easing access to the labour market, and improving both the quantity and quality of employment opportunities would be important prerequisites for spurring the growth of a larger and more stable middle class in South Africa.

Reducing the non-labour cost of private employment

In his 2015 think piece ‘Labour and unemployment in South Africa: Towards a “grand bargain’, Professor Ravi Kanbur says that the problematics of the South African situation are clear: high unemployment, high inequality and low growth, combined with a lack of consensus on what to do. So how can we reduce unemployment significantly in the short run (a time horizon of 3–7 years) without lowering the real wage or increasing the public sector wage bill? His suggestion is that within the current fiscal constraints, South Africa’s medium-term strategy should be to build up human capital through investment in education and health, while the crucial short-term strategy should be to reduce the non-labour cost of private sector employment. Non-labour costs can be as high as 30% of the total cost of employment, and could be reduced through a number of policy responses. These include improving public infrastructure for enterprises, providing financial inducements for enterprises to move to areas where unemployment is high, reducing the high ‘reservation’ wage induced by the high cost of transportation to work, increasing competition on the output side, and reducing regulatory and other constraints on small-scale informal activities.

Mandela Washington Fellow

The Mandela Washington Fellowships are now open and close on 11 October. Link for information and the application:

Chemonics: Project Development Coordinator
Chemonics International is seeking an exceptional candidate to serve as Project Development Coordinator for the USAID-funded South Africa Low Emissions Development Project (SA-LED). SA-LED supports the government in its efforts to expand ‘green growth’ in South Africa. The Project Development Coordinator will be responsible for coordinating the project management office’s efforts in guiding municipalities through the LED project development process. Closing date: Wednesday, 11 October 2017.
ISO Lomso Fellowships: Call for Applications 2017

Three of the first cohort of Iso Lomso fellows in residence at STIAS,
from left, John Ganle, Tolu Oni and Uchenna Okeja

Early-career African researchers who have completed their doctoral studies in the last seven years are invited to apply for the Iso Lomso Fellowship. For the 2017 call, at least five candidates will be awarded a three-year fellowship. Fellows will spend various periods of residency at the STIAS Wallenberg Research Centre in Stellenbosch to pursue their research projects. They will also receive support to attend international conferences, convene workshops, and visit sister institutes for advanced study elsewhere in the world. All disciplines are considered.
Application deadline: 15 November 2017
Contact: Dr Christoff Pauw, STIAS Programme Manager, +27 21 808 9331,

UCT offers a
new master's degree in data science with a specialisation in financial technology

Information technology is becoming pivotal for the financial services industry, which needs changing skills to deal with an increasingly complex regulatory framework and growing competitive pressure from fintech start-ups. To this end, the University of Cape Town (UCT), through the departments of Statistics and Computer Science, the African Institute of Financial Markets and Risk Management (AIFMRM) and the UCT Financial Innovation Lab, has developed a new interdisciplinary master’s degree. The degree is based on an existing MSc in Data Science, and is convened by the Department of Statistics. AIFMRM will offer the new specialisation in financial technology through three elective courses, as well as a 60-credit dissertation convened by the Financial Innovation Lab. All information about the degree can be found here (not everything is on the UCT website yet). Convener: Dr Co-Pierre Georg (

Postgraduate Diploma in Survey Data Analysis for Development
University of Cape Town, one-or two-year course

The UCT School of Economics, together with SALDRU and DataFirst, is running a new Postgraduate Diploma in Survey Data Analysis for Development. The course, which aims to equip individuals to use and critically evaluate survey data, is run in blocks to accommodate students who are already employed. The course can be taken full-time over one year or part-time over two years. Applications are now open and will close on 31 October 2017. To apply online, click here
For more information, please see:
For information on DataFirst’s stand-alone, week-long courses, please see:

PARI launches a groundbreaking institutional case study on Locating South African Politics in Local Government: The ‘Mogalakwena Local Municipality’ report

11 October 2017, 16:30-18:30
Graduate Centre Seminar Room, South West Engineering building (off Yale Road), East Campus, Wits University.

Speakers include the authors, Joel Pearson and Mosa Phadi, with Susan Booysen as discussant. A photographic essay by Leon Sadiki will also be on exhibit.

RSVP: Mpho Mohapi at

Executive education courses

Social Entrepreneurship & Systems Change is a new executive education course at UCT’s Graduate School of Business. Convened by the Bertha Centre for Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship, this course will promote local and global networking among senior-level participants and leading speakers, providing a unique community of practice that will serve participants far beyond the duration of the course. Scholarships are available. The application deadline is 16 September 2017.

9-13 October 2017
Managing Power Sector Reform and Regulation

This course has been updated in view of developments in renewable energy auctions, distributed generation and micro-grids. Prof. Ignacio Perez-Arriaga will talk about important research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology on the ‘Utility of the Future’.

The PASCAL Centre for Africa presents the 14th PASCAL International Conference: 
Trends2017 – Between cities and the rural: The role of universities in developing our societies

17-19 October 2017
Villa Africa Boutique Hotel, Pretoria

Trends2017 is a meeting place for thinkers to rethink and reinvent education, government, jobs, products and services using new trends in the economic, social, demographic and technological fields.

Impact Investing in Africa is an executive education course targeted at wealth managers, consultants, funders, lawyers and other financial intermediaries. The course provides an understanding of the rapidly emerging field of impact investing and its ecosystem globally, with a specific focus on Africa. It is structured around case study-based workshops led by a diverse group of leading experts. Two scholarships are available to government officials; more information can be obtained from the course website. Applications close on 13 October 2017.


TIPS Development Dialogue Colloquium on the retail sector: An opportunity for industrialisation?

Tuesday, 24 October 2017, 9:00-13:00
TIPS Boardroom, 234 Lange St, Nieuw Muckleneuk, Pretoria 

Large general grocery retailers and supermarkets have greatly increased their market coverage in South Africa both spatially and in terms of customer numbers over the past 20 years. They now control an estimated 90% of formal food sales and over 60% of total retail food sales. South African-owned supermarket chains have also grown exponentially in the rest of SADC. The colloquium will share research undertaken on the impact of supermarkets and their linkages to the manufacturing sector and supplier development, and explore the pros and cons of a code of conduct for the retail sector.
With opening address by Eustace Mashimbye (CEO: Proudly South African) will give the opening address. Presentations by Andrew Mukandila (the dti), Dave Kaplan (UCT and TIPS Research Associate), Tracy Ledger (TIPS Research Associate) and Reena das Nair (CCRED) will be followed by a panel discussion on ‘Does South Africa need a retail sector charter or a code of good practice?’
RSVP by email:

30 October - 1 November 2017
Birchwood Hotel in Boksburg

The South African Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation and the United  Nations – South Africa Monitoring and Evaluation Group are hosting the first Africa Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) Indaba at the Birchwood Hotel in Boksburg. The theme of the Indaba is ‘Opportunities and challenges of using evidence from M&E to accelerate economic development and employment in Africa’. The concept note and draft programme for the Indaba are attached. Please confirm attendance no later than 6 October 2017 by submitting the completed RSVP form to m&

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