Industrial Development Think Tank (IDTT)


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.

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 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. 

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

  1. Executive Summary

  2. Full Report

  3. Presentation


IDTT Year 1


The South African economy, since 1994, has suffered from low growth and high levels of unemployment. The main focus of this first year of research was on investigating the structural transformation of the South African economy, with emphasis on diversification, value-addition and employment-stimulating industrialisation of the sub-region. The work programme culminated in an Flagship Report on post-apartheid structural transformation and three separate 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

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  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

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IDTT Year 2


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. A large focus of year 2 has been on developing a Digital Industrial Issues Paper following the hosting of a Colloquium. In addition, a series of industry studies taking account of technological changes has been produced.


  1. Understanding Technological Competitiveness and Supply Chain Deepening in Plastic Auto Components in Thailand

  2. Online Retailing in South Africa

  3. Strategies for Adapting to Online Entry

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  1. Machinery, Equipment and Electronic Control Systems: Leading Reindustrialisation in Southern Africa

  2. Repositioning the Future of the South African Automotive Industry

  3. Technological Developments and the ‘Industrialisation of Freshness’ in Fresh Fruit Supply

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A collaboration between the Centre for Competition, Regulation and Economic Development, the Department of Trade and Industry, South African Research Chair in Industrialisation, and the University of Johannesburg

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