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Joburg students dominate the Nedbank and Old Mutual Budget Speech competition

Joburg students dominate the Nedbank and Old Mutual Budget Speech competition
Budget Speech competition winners, Sandile Mbatha (left), the winner in the postgraduate category on just energy transition insights and Hamzah Mia (right), who won the undergraduate category with an essay on monetary policy and inflation. (Photos: Supplied)

Six enterprising students who entered the Nedbank & Old Mutual Budget Speech competition walked away with R420,000 in prize money last week.

The postgraduate students were tasked with presenting their insights on the concept of the “Just Energy Transition” and its potential ramifications on South Africa’s economy. Their essays delved into the examination of whether this transition could act as a catalyst for the nation’s economic growth agenda or whether it could present headwinds and ultimately fail to deliver the intended outcomes.

University of Johannesburg student Sandile Mbatha who won first place in the postgraduate category with a prize of R150,000 plans to become a researcher. Mbatha says he wants to contribute meaningfully to the country’s economic discussions that seek to address the problems of unemployment, poverty and inequality – be it in academia, the private or the public sector.

In his winning essay, Mbatha notes that potential challenges the Just Energy transition will bring include job losses and economic disruptions that might lead to societal unrest, issues of affordability and political instability. However, he adds, positive impacts could include innovation and technological advancement, local economic development, export opportunities and trade benefits.

Second and third places in the postgraduate category went to Ziyanda Magazi and Irshaad Mayet with prizes of R100,000 and R50,000 respectively.

Wits dominated the undergraduate category, with all three winners hailing from the university. Hamzah Mia emerged as the winner, earning himself the first prize of R60,000, followed by Shuaib Mahomed winning R40,000 in second place and Paula Prinsloo in third place with a prize of R20,000.

The essay topic for the undergraduate category was “analyse the inflation dynamics in emerging markets from 2017 to 2022, focusing on the implications for monetary policy in South Africa.

Mia said winning made every sacrifice, every late night, and every setback feel worth it. “I’m filled with gratitude for this opportunity and a readiness to embrace what lies ahead with newfound confidence and determination.”

He plans to become a data analyst or economist, and judging by his essay, he’s off to a good start. “Prior to inflation targeting, the emerging economy of South Africa attempted to make use of other monetary policy tools, but they had proven to be insufficient. The South African market has aimed for an inflation rate of 4.5% — the midpoint of its inflation range — since its implementation of inflation targeting, but in the past three years, the inflation rate has climbed above its proposed range as a result of myriad factors which have had resounding effects on the economy,” he wrote. DM


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