THE DIRECTORS EVENT

FUTURED BY BCX

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We’ve entered a decade where South Africa’s longstanding challenges have now been exacerbated by the COVID-19 crisis which will have a lasting effect on our economy.

Apart from the financial and social strains of the pandemic, we still need to overcome historic hurdles that put us on the back foot during lockdown: the slow pace of government reforms; corruption in both private and state-owned enterprises; the skills-readiness of our workforce to gain employment in Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) jobs; the devastating effects of rapid climate-change in a country already gripped by drought and an energy crisis that’s straining our economy.

The sixth iteration of The Directors Event ‘SA’s biggest board meeting’ – a forum where honest opinions can be shared and are widely encouraged.

Join this live streamed web-conference that aims to debate, brainstorm and recommend solutions to ensure South Africa remains a beacon of hope, and a leader in what can be achieved in Africa.

AGENDA

Andre de Ruyter, Group CEO of Eskom will share his thoughts and insights on what role business can play to successfully resolve South Africa’s energy crisis.

Wendy Lucas-Bull, Chairman of Absa Group, will share her thoughts and insights on what it takes to do business successfully in South Africa and what reform she believes we need to action in this country.

Some people argue that time may be running out for South Africa to fix its deep-seated economic problems, and the COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly placed the country in a greater position of jeopardy. There remains growing pressure on President Cyril Ramaphosa and his government to increase the pace of economic reform.

The slow pace of reform is frustrating many stakeholders who have listened carefully to President Ramaphosa’s promises of a new dawn that would ignite growth. The need for policy certainty cannot be overemphasised but the need for implementing much needed structural reforms has now become more urgent than ever as we deal with the blow from the coronavirus and national lockdown.

As a country, we need to assure investors that business in South Africa will recover and can evolve to become more sustainable and less vulnerable to external forces. Whether we’re looking at issues of energy distribution, infrastructure development, unemployment, skills or inequality, how do we go about making structural changes to build a prosperous future for all?

At no other time has our generation been as challenged to consider the importance of the reliable supply of food, water and electricity. In order to withstand the next global crisis and blunt the effects of future pandemics, we need to consider what can be done to make our country more self-sufficient and less reliant on others, in the face of rapid climate change. South Africa is largely an arid country.

The effects of extreme weather patterns have been visible for all of us to see in recent years. Long spells of drought have raised the question of how to mobilise business to respond to the risks of climate change. Apart from a water shortage, we’re also sitting with an unprecedented energy issue. It is vital that we put the right kind of energy mix in place. Appropriate climate change policies and strategies are also essential to mitigate against the effects of future pandemics.

The coronavirus has highlighted the need to create a fairer, more equal and greener future. Clearly, we are currently not doing enough. What are our options for avoiding an irreversible implosion? How do we move towards a more sustainable way of living?

The global COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically changed the way we approach life and work. For the first time, many businesses were compelled to let their employees work from home – for many it proved to be a technological challenge. The lockdown has also exacerbated the vast economic and resource divides in South Africa. Broadband internet access is only available to a small percentage of the population, and the costs of data are still high.

So how will the country leverage the deployment of 4IR technologies to enable a remote workforce of the future, while improving the job opportunities and job readiness of South Africans? We need to address how digital innovation can reach everyone to take our economy to the next level, as we look to reskill and upskill millions of South Africans to be prepared and effective. We need to act now to maintain South Africa as the centre of innovation and business in Africa.

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