The past decade has seen a growing consensus re-emerging on the importance of industrialisation, as well as on the relatively poor performance of African countries in this regard, including South Africa. To better understand the challenges of industrialisation, the Industrial Development Think Tank (IDTT) was established in 2017 at UJ under an MoU with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI). The IDTT is housed in CCRED, in partnership with the SARChI Chair in Industrial Development, and supported by the DTI. The IDTT will build on existing research undertaken by CCRED and the SARChI Chair in order to provide analysis and advice, build capacity and inform the wider debate on industrialisation.

Download the IDTT's full report Structural transformation in South Africa: Moving towards a smart, open economy for all

Click here to view current IDTT research on a Digital Industrial Policy Framework for South Africa.


Governance of the IDTT is exercised through a Project Steering Committee (PSC) that is convened and chaired by a representative of the DTI. The PCS considers and approves research priorities, allocates and approves budgets, considers and approves reports, and provides overall guidance to the work of the IDTT. The PSC consists of the following members: 

  • Nimrod Zalk: Chairperson and Industrial Development Policy and Strategy Advisor, Department of Trade and Industry

  • Stephen Hanival: Chief Economist, Department of Trade and Industry

  • Garth Strachan: Deputy Director-General: Industrial Development Policy, Department of Trade and Industry

  • Ilse Karg: Chief Director for Future Production Technologies & Industry 4.0, Department of Trade and Industry

  • Fiona Tregenna: South African Research Chair (SARChI Chair) in Industrial Development, and Professor in the College of Business and Economics at the University of Johannesburg

  • Simon Roberts: Executive Director, Centre for Competition, Regulation and Economic Development, and Professor in the College of Business and Economics at the University of Johannesburg


The IDTT’s multi-year industrial development research examines structural transformation of the South African economy, with emphasis on diversification, value-addition and employment-stimulating industrialisation of the sub-region. 

The work programme in the first year is anchored by an overview study on post-apartheid structural transformation. This involves an overview paper and three separate industry studies. The selection of the industry studies include: a sector where policy has been largely within the purview of the DTI (auto); an industrial grouping where interventions stretch across minerals, energy (metals) and manufacturing (metals and machinery); and, a grouping which covers the links from agriculture through manufacturing to retail (agro-processing and food). 

The overview study, therefore, combines an analysis of the structure of manufacturing in South Africa, including an analysis of linkages, productivity and capabilities, and how these have evolved over time, with three detailed case studies of industrial policy. 

Digital Industrial Policy Framework

Advances in technologies are disrupting production processes in unprecedented ways across industries around the world. These changes are bringing new opportunities for improving productivity and competitiveness in various sectors but are also bringing new challenges. History has shown that successfully managing the structural changes driven by technology is crucial for ensuring wider benefits. It is therefore critical to understand the nature of the disruptions for different industries. The Industrial Development Think Tank (IDTT) supported by the Department of Trade and Industry (dti) is working on a programme of research deepening understanding of processes of technological change in the context of industry 4.0. This will inform a digital industrial policy framework and a policy issues paper.

Read more

flagship report

  1. Executive Summary

  2. Full Report

  3. Presentation

industry studies

  1. Agriculture and Agro-processing Value Chain

  2. Structural Transformation in the Auto Sector

  3. Structural transformation along metals, machinery and equipment value chain

  4. Comparative Study: Stuck in the middle: Premature Deindustrialisation and Industrial Policy

Policy Briefs

  1. Concentration, profits and investment: Let’s focus on the structure of the economy, not “cash hoarding”

  2. Structural transformation to grow high-value exports and jobs: the case of fruit

  3. Structural transformation, competition and economic power

  4. Structural transformation: The impact of municipal electricity pricing policy on the foundry industry

  5. The auto industry needs regional integration – can it happen?

  6. Localisation and Supply Chain Development in the SA Auto Industry

  7. Structural transformation in agro-processing: Addressing concentration levels and greater market access in dairy and sugar value chains

  8. Upstream strategies and support in the metals and machinery value chain: Industrial policy lessons

  9. Recommendations for Structural Transformation and job creation in South Africa: Towards a Smart, Open Economy for All

  10. Rewriting the rules governing the South African Economy: A new political settlement for industrial development

  11. Stuck in the Middle: South Africa in the New Global Industrial Landscape

  12. Industrial Policies for Middle-Income Countries

idtt in the news

  1. Structural transformation, competition and economic power: the need for better policies

  2. South Africa’s economy is badly skewed to the big guys: how it can be changed

  3. Call made for ‘broad coalition’ to reverse South Africa’s premature deindustrialisation

  4. A "New Dawn" is upon us

  5. Scrap 'naive' inflation targeting

  6. Cherry-pick high-value exports by supporting fresh fruit farmers

  7. Shake up the economy, say think-tank

  8. How to get SA going

  9. Cyril Ramaphosa’s ‘new dawn’ needs vision and smart programmes for reindustrialisation

  10. South Africa’s municipal electricity tariffs are hurting the economy


  1. South Africa’s economy is badly skewed

  2. SA can achieve robust economic growth, here’s how

  3. A new vision required to re-industrialise South Africa’s economy


  1. Public Platform: Structural transformation in agriculture and agro-processing value chains

  2. Public Platform: Structural transformation along the metals, machinery and equipment value chain

  3. Public Platform: Structural transformation in the auto sector

  4. Report Launch: Structural transformation in South Africa: Moving towards a smart, open economy for all

  5. Public Lecture: Stuck in the middle: Premature deindustrialisation and industrial policy? South Africa's challenges in an international context

Knowledge base

The work of the IDTT builds on previous projects undertaken by CCRED that are directly relevant to structural transformation and industrial development. 


This study focuses on assessing the impact and effectiveness of government interventions for industrialisation focusing on the orientation and interests of large firms and their decisions, strategies and responsiveness to government interventions.



This project seeks to provide a deeper understanding of the economy of Johannesburg and the ways in which City of Johannesburg can best use the tools at its disposal to drive the city towards an inclusive, job-intensive, resilient and competitive economy.