Q: Can you introduce us to the University of Johannesburg’s Centre for Competition, Regulation and Economic Development?
A: The Centre for Competition, Regulation and Economic Development (CCRED) is a leading university research group established as a locus of knowledge and information on competition, regulation and economic development. CCRED is headed by Prof Simon Roberts. CCRED was established in 2011 at the University of Johannesburg, initially known as the Centre for Competition Economics (CCE). The Centre’s scope broadened to include not only competition economics, but also analysis of economic regulation and economic development across southern and East Africa. This led to the Centre changing its name in 2013 to the Centre for Competition, Regulation and Economic Development (CCRED).
Q: What are the most pressing issues that you seek to elevate through your work at CCRED? / What interesting research and projects has CCRED been involved in recently?
A: In the past two years CCRED has focused on three main research areas: local industrial development, barriers to entry and regional industrialisation and value chains. The research areas have had a local, national and regional perspective emphasising the importance of linkages between South Africa and the region. In 2014, CCRED conducted a pilot study to understand industrial activity in the City of Johannesburg commissioned by the City of Johannesburg Metropolitan. The study of the remaining twenty-six industrial areas in Johannesburg was then carried out between 2015 and 2016. The project was driven by the desire to not only understand the main economic activities in Johannesburg, but also to create a database recording critical information relating to firm performance. The Gauteng Department of Economic Development (GDED) is concerned with deindustrialisation and recognises the need to increase competitive local production as a basis for exports, jobs, and sustainable services growth. Early 2016, GDED identified six sectors for this project (capital equipment and machinery, plastics and chemicals, automotive, furniture, food and beverages, and information and communications technology). The research studies provided a sector profile for each of the identified sectors and determined the capacity, growth potential and development needs of the Gauteng province. The apartheid legacy of South Africa has shaped the economy of the country and thwarted the ability of new firms to enter the market. A plethora of structural and strategic barriers to entry have been identified as key factors hindering inclusive growth. The project on Barriers to Entry, funded by the National Treasury in 2015, highlighted the main barriers by focusing on sector- and firm case-studies. The sectors studied were agro-processing and telecommunications; while the case studies analysed Soweto Gold (beer), Fruit & Veg City (supermarkets), Capitec (retail banking), liquid fuels and mobile money. Understanding the role of South Africa in the context of the region is important and was better understood through a study that United Nations University World Institute for Development Economics Research commissioned February 2015. The focus of the study was to understand potential linkages between South Africa and its neighbouring countries: Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe. In this study, the value chains analysed were:
(1) animal feed to poultry,
(3) mining inputs and the development of capabilities in machinery and engineering services and
(4) intra-regional transport. All these are sectors pivotal to regional development.
Q: What do you enjoy most about your work on a day-to-day basis?
A: CCRED is a growing organisation with experienced economists which enables the sharing and transfer of knowledge amongst employees. We work with a number of public institutions and research organisations across southern and East Africa. The various projects the organisation undertakes provides exposure to key regional and national economic questions. Above all, working for CCRED is interesting in that research carried out generally contributes to better understanding of regional and national economic growth, proposing policy recommendations that promote competitiveness and encourage wider participation in the economy.