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Highway or byway? The National Development Plan 2030
24 July 2013

This publication, the first in a series of three, considers the feasibility of the central economic growth target that is set out in South Africa’s National Development Plan 2030. It then explores some of the associated human development targets.

The paper first looks at the core characteristics of the economy. Against that background and analysis we argue that the core economic growth target of 5,4 per cent average gross domestic product, the associated size of the economy and the income per capita targets are very ambitious. With a huge effort, clear leadership and painful adjustments the targets may be achievable, but it is hardly possible to overestimate the effort that will be required from across South Africa’s diverse interest groups and affected communities. Clearly the current capital- intensive nature of South Africa’s economic growth model will not succeed in delivering sufficient jobs without structural changes to the economy and to current policies. Many other targets, for example in education and infrastructure, are achievable with lower rates of economic growth.

This may point to a lack of coherence between the models (and assumptions) used for detailed planning between the different sectors. While economic growth is very important for South Africa, the quality of growth is equally important if the country is to address its deep structural inequality and unemployment challenges.

Planning is inevitably an iterative process subject to continued new insights and data, such as the 2011 census, but this does not detract from the importance of the plan and its targets in setting South Africa on a new development trajectory able to respond to its varied human developmental and sustainable growth challenges.

About the author:

Jakkie Cilliers is the Executive Director of the Institute for Security Studies.

Hanna Camp recently completed her MA in international relations at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver in the US.

This paper was presented by ISS Pretoria at the seminars 'Highway or byway? The National Development Plan 2013' in Pretoria on 14 August 2013 and in Cape Town on 29 August 2013

This paper was also presented at the South African Institute of International Affairs on 12 September 2013, for more information visit

This paper was made possible through the generous funding from the Hanns Seidel Foundation. The ISS is also grateful for the support of the following core partners: the governments of Norway, Sweden, Australia and Denmark.