The government, big businesses and South Africans need to buy locally produced goods to support job creation, higher economic growth and address poverty, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa says.
"If we want our economy to grow, then we need to buy more locally made goods," he said at a Proudly SA Buy Local annual summit.
"When you buy locally made goods, it increases the level of employment and it means local people get jobs and then they earn decent wages and in the end this forms an economic zone," Mr Ramaphosa said.
However, Professor Douglas Boateng, Chair of the Advisory Board of the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply says “buying local is a good policy, but if South Africa has ‘Buy SA’ and Kenya has ‘Buy Kenya’ and Ghana has ‘Buy Ghana’, then who is going to buy from whom? A heavy local focus may have disastrous consequences in the future.”
He advocates ‘Buy Africa’ as an initiative that could break down the barriers that are now inhibiting trade between African states.
South Africans could rely less on imports, provided locally produced goods were of "great quality and internationally competitive", said Ramaphosa.
Local producers should also "work harder to reduce the cost of production" and invest in innovation, he said.
The statement comes in a week where it emerged that most of the US chicken products that hit the shelves this month were going to be sold to low-income groups. He‚ however‚ did not touch on the US chicken products.
"But most importantly is that when you buy locally made goods the money that you use to buy the locally made goods stays in the area and those businesses use local resources sustainably.He said SA’s economic growth would remain weak if the country continued to favour imported products.
"We should begin to be choosy‚ be discerning buyers and focus on where things are made and if things are made in SA‚ we should say it is made in our country and this is what we should buy."
Speaking at the same summit, Small Business Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu said small businesses could play an important role in economic growth if given the right support. A R12-billion investment by the government could create 300 small businesses and 300,000 jobs for the youth.
This article first appeared on bdlive