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PSG Financial Services has launched the inaugural PSG #ThinkBigSA Competition in collaboration with Economic Research South Africa (ERSA). The competition challenges South Africans to submit academic discussion papers that are aimed at helping the country address one of its greatest challenges: it’s ongoing economic malaise and lack of growth.


2024 marks the country’s thirtieth year as a democracy, and while progress has been made on the integration of society, it has fallen short of expectations on many other fronts. South Africa’s low levels of economic growth have remained a seemingly intractable problem and attempts at economic reform have done little to realise the country’s potential. Low growth is not only stagnating economic development but also exacerbating social issues such as crime and corruption. This negative feedback loop hinders the country’s ability to achieve significant progress.

PSG Financial Services is a proudly South African firm that believes in the power of the country’s people to find solutions to our problems, and in igniting its untapped potential. 

South Africa’s fellow “Big Picture Thinkers” are therefore invited to apply their minds and conceptualise solutions on how to tackle the deeply intertwined challenges that hinder South Africa’s growth potential, with well-reasoned academic-quality discussion papers. The inaugural 2024 topic is ‘Inclusive economic growth in South Africa’. 

Discussion papers will be judged by an expert panel, including minds such as Mamokete Lijane, ERSA Chair and Strategist in Global Markets; and Michael Sachs, Adjunct Professor at the Southern Centre for Inequality Studies at the University of the Witwatersrand. This year’s top three submissions will win prize money to the value of R450 000, with the overall winner awarded a cash prize of R300 000 and the two runners up winning R100 000 and R50 000 respectively. 

In search of solutions-driven economic progress

Francois Gouws, CEO of PSG Financial Services, highlights that “As a responsible corporate citizen, who is contributing to the country’s economic growth, we want to play an active role in helping drive solutions-driven economic progress. With this new competition, PSG Financial Services encourages South Africans to become more involved in devising positive economic solutions for our country.” 

According to Michael Sachs, Adjunct Professor at the Southern Centre for Inequality Studies at the University of the Witwatersrand and panel member:

“It is not simply a matter of ‘any growth’ will do. Growth must be sustainable, and it has to work for society as a whole. It must, above all else, be inclusive, balanced and fair, and help the country make tangible progress when it comes to addressing inequality.” 

“We hope the solutions posed in response to the competition will help to address this challenge, especially when the shortcomings of redistributive policies, more than three decades on, are so painfully obvious”. 

The papers will be judged by an expert panel made up from a diverse collection of high-level executives’ and academics, and provides an indication of the rigour of thinking that will be required to impress the judges. They include:

  • Mamokete Lijane – CFA. Chair – ERSA and Strategist in Global Markets
  • Prof William Gumede – Associate Professor – Political Associate Professor, Public and Development Management, School of Governance, University of the Witwatersrand; and Founder and Executive Chairperson, Democracy Works Foundation
  • Michael Sachs – Adjunct Professor at the Southern Centre for Inequality Studies at the University of the Witwatersrand
  • Gracelin Baskaran – Research Director and Senior Fellow, Energy Security Climate Change Program
  • Prof Philippe Burger – Professor of Economics, and the Dean, Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences at the University of the Free state

Visit the competition portal for all the particulars 

All South Africans are welcome to enter. Full details of the competition, judging criteria and terms and conditions are available via the competition portal at https://www.psg.co.za/think-big-sa-competition. Discussion documents must be submitted via the portal by 30 August 2024 in order to qualify. No late submissions will be accepted and the judges’ decision is final. 

Those wanting to submit articles, are encouraged to support any recommendations with verifiable, quantitative justifications. Qualifying papers should explain potential conflicting policy objectives, binding constraints to be considered and should include the required trade-offs to design optimal inclusive economic growth policies. 

In addition to touching on some (or all) of the issues listed above, the following perspectives may also hold some value: 

  • A focus on medium-term wins, that will help the country achieve notable gains, helping to restore the public’s (and international community’s) faith in our ability to deliver on these challenges. Issues to touch on include economic policy, technological advancement or the role of public/private partnerships.
  • A focus on long-term initiatives that are required to move the country forward. This can include the legislative agenda required to foster inclusive economic growth. Longer lead times apply here, but the
    pay offs, if built around a common purpose, will be extensive.

We encourage using an innovative model to tackle this topic. While optimal control theory stands out, different models can be applied, and all model approaches will be considered.

We look forward to receiving high-quality and well-argued submissions that can positively contribute to economic debate in South Africa. 

Affiliates of the PSG Financial Services Group, a licensed controlling companyare authorised financial services providers. www.psg.co.za.  DM/BM



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