The South African disaster: No businesses for the unemployed

Is there a bigger disaster on earth than SA’s unemployment rate?
South Africa's ability to employ people is its soft underbelly, the standardised unemployment number alone indicating a dire situation. Picture: Moneyweb

South Africa’s weakest economic vital measurements are inequality and unemployment by many a mile.

Unemployment, in my view, is the prime cause of inequality as well as poverty. But unemployment is not something where one can just put a policy or two in place and have it decline overnight.

Unemployment is a complex problem on so many levels, and one that government on its own cannot fix.

Looking at international statistics, it’s clear that some of the causes of unemployment lie within the ability of the South African economy to nurture, grow and attract businesses. Enterprise data indicates that South Africa has one of the lowest rates when it comes to getting businesses to start becoming viable.

Maybe government and the people who study employment need to try to find the reason why South Africa has no ‘animal spirits’ – a term used by economist John Maynard Keynes (1883-1946) to describe the instincts, tendencies and emotions that drive human behavior, and which can be measured in terms of aspects such as consumer confidence. Keynes believed most of our decisions to do something positive are the result of ‘animal spirits’ – a spontaneous urge to action rather than inaction.

The concept of animal spirits has been known and encouraged for hundreds of years by successful countries around the world.

Government wants to be a developmental state, but what it means is that it wants to fulfil the role of the animal spirit – which, frankly, is a disaster. Rather than new viable enterprises, South Africa is attracting corruption ghosts that leach onto animal spirits, turning government into a kleptocracy that succeeds only in stealing jobs.

Colouring in the full scale of the disaster

South Africa is the country with the world’s highest unemployment rate at over 27%! Never mind the fuller picture with the expanded definition, South Africa has this dubious distinction based only on the standardised rate.

An unemployment rate of 20% often leads to political changes in government, but South Africa is now entering its 22nd consecutive year with an unemployment rate of over 20%.

Interestingly, the only neighbour of South Africa not to be inside the highest 15 countries is Zimbabwe, but we all know believability is not the best part of Zimbabwean economic data.

Five of the highest six unemployment rates in the world belong to South Africa and its neighbours. The whole region is an unemployment nightmare. Rates this high for this long are seemingly the norm in southern Africa.

Unemployment takes away people’s dignity and hope, and often their ability to develop or even acquire food for survival.

Is there a bigger disaster on earth than SA’s unemployment rate?

And does it lead to other indicators, such as very high crimes rates and governments that remain in power for decades?

Are South African men lackadaisical? 

It is not only unemployment rates that should be looked at, as countries have different ways of measuring unemployment, besides which unemployment does not give the full picture of the ability and tendency of people to earn an income.

One way of getting a broader picture is to look at the rate of adults employed. Since there are religious and cultural differences to factor in, I have compared male employment ratios only (in some countries, for example, women are not encouraged to work; the nations with the 15 lowest female participation rates are all Islamic countries).

South Africa has the fifth lowest male employment ratio. Using International Labour Organisation (ILO) data from 2017, one can see that only 4.5 out of 10 South African adult males are in work. Are South Africa men just lazy, or is something else taking place – or is the answer more complex?

The other reason I use male employment ratio is that it is often the men  who travel to cities and other places of economic activity to find jobs while females are left in rural areas to look after children.

The employment ratio of males is also unusual in that South Africa’s neighbours are also on the lowish side of things. Eswatini (Swaziland) and Namibia fall in the lowest 12 countries regarding male employment while Lesotho and Mozambique are in the lowest 30.

South Africa’s ability to employ people is its soft underbelly. The standardised number alone indicates a very dire situation in the country. Almost all of the bottom 40% of households have no one in full-time employment.

South African workers get paid regularly – others not so much

However, when it comes to paying, South Africa has a very high number of employed who receive a regular salary or wage. This little-known fact is a significant statistic in the whole employment and unemployment debate that gets overlooked.

A regular salary is not as common as many believe. In most countries around the world people are still climbing the ladder to a stable income. A decent job has a regular salary, but many jobs do not start out as decent and while we all prefer regular pay cheques, this is not the case for half of those in the world who are employed!

Source: World Bank

South African employees are among the most regularly paid workers in the world, with over 85% of all employees receiving a regular pay cheque. Only 54% of the world’s employed get paid regularly. In the EU this is 84% and in developing countries it is 47%.

You may think this is a stupid statistic, but it is crucial as most people in the informal sector do not get a regular pay cheque. This number is often also a good indicator as to how many people work in the informal economy or for the greater good of a family business for no pay (think of a spaza shop run by an entrepreneur, with their spouse and children helping for free as the whole family lives off the proceeds.)

It also indicates the number of people who have ‘piece’ work or occasional jobs and therefore don’t get a weekly or monthly wage. We forget that advanced regions such as Europe are the exception, and even here some do not get a regular salary or only have temporary work.

Those employed in South Africa are lucky in that most have regular pay cheques and our new minimum wage as a percentage of per capita income will at the very least be in the top half of countries with minimum wages.

In other countries many people seem to take up self-employment in high unemployment conditions. Many in SA do, but not as many as in other parts of the world. This could act as a nursery school for business formation.

South Africans dream – but there’s much talk and little action

It’s incredible that we rarely measure how many adults employ others.

We measure unemployment, skills, poverty and inequality, but we hardly talk about that strange animal – enterprise.

I would think this an important indicator, especially when one knows that unemployment is a very high – and destabilising – indicator that the country needs to address.

The reason may be that South Africa has the fifth least established business ownership rate per adult among 90 major economies in the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor.

While the world has an average of 9.1 established businesses per 100 adults, South Africa has only 2.15 – which means there are more than 46 adults for every employer in SA.

Source: Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (2014-2017 data)

An established employer is defined as someone who has employed at least one other adult and paid them a wage for 42 months. This is generally seen as an established business, although data from South Africa Labour Force Survey indicates that many of these businesses fail within the next few years.

The new-venture-into-established-business failure rate is never reported on. We more often hear about a business or business owner being amoral or a cheat, but very rarely do we hear about the effort it takes to become an established or successful business.

You would be forgiven for believing that South Africa can afford to vomit on enterprises, but the facts show that the exact opposite is true. Even our business media rarely celebrate successful enterprises and the tenacity that it takes for business people to survive.

Unfortunately dreams turn to bust and dust

South Africa fails to notice that it has business dreamers, or that many of these dreamers enter into nascent business ventures. This happens more often than acknowledged.

What is interesting, however, is that South Africa has a higher number of start-up businesses and business ideas. The world has an average of 14.8 young nascent entrepreneurs and self-employed adults per 100 adults. In Uganda, 28% of all adults are self-employed, leading to 35% that are considered nascent entrepreneurs.

South Africa has nearly 11 adults per 100 who are nascent entrepreneurs or self-employed. This is much better in relative terms than South Africa’s rate of established businesses or enterprising employees.

This little statistic shows that about 70% of new ventures and self-employed go on to become stable employers later in life, according to world data. Perhaps a little less, while established businesses also remain for a while.

The number for South Africa is only about 20%, which tells us that perhaps micro business is unable to convert to small business, and unable to convert into employers.

Put another way it seems South Africans want to be business people but the ideas they have are not translating into employment for others – or, in many of the new ventures, are not progressing to become employers.

While South Africa has the eighth lowest conversion rate from a lowish new venture rate, one has to say something is deeply wrong with the ability of adults in SA to become entrepreneurs.

Other resource-rich countries such as Mexico, Botswana, Qatar and Malaysia also have low conversion rates, which may actually show that the so-called Dutch Disease (negative consequences arising from sudden wealth) is a real factor at play here.

Moreover, high tax countries such as Denmark, Botswana and Namibia, which have a high tax-to-GDP ratio, have even lower new-venture-to-established-business rates.

Other data from the quarterly Labour Force Survey indicates that South Africa records a high failure rate of even established businesses, which all points to a very fragile enterprise environment.

The average formal private sector business employs about 10 other adults when it needs to employ about 20 adults to bring all aboard in the formal sector.

Clearly even our established firms are small – and while the average is around 10, the median is around three to five people in a formal enterprise.

Many are not in fact as established as they need to be and are often survivalist in nature.

Very little of the activity of the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) represents any of these employers and employees. Neither can Nedlac talk for the self-employed.

In smaller chambers of commerce, Nedlac has been referred to as the Big BUG (Big business, big unions, big government) – all important in their own minds, but screwing the real entrepreneurs where ever they can.

We need to change our thinking to ‘Smuse’ (small, medium, unemployed and self-fmployed) or put in urban slang to be stupidly amused by what real enterprises do and get out of the way of their abilities.

Promote the small and the big will grow out of it.

SMME businesses might not be sophisticated, but they are street-wise, bumping along by the seat of their pants on a road that does not exist.

Many talk a lot about wages and jobs but few know the animal spirits of enterprise. That part is never understood or embraced in the current political climate in SA. Conventional wisdom shouts ‘Jobs, we need jobs’ but no one shouts ‘Business,we need business”. That is just not done. Also, we tend to think of business as ‘big’ or ‘semi’, like government departments.

How stupid can one country be?

If we do not listen and implement behaviour that is inclusive to the needs of the average business, we will see our children export themselves elsewhere into slavery in the decades to come.

Mike Schüssler is an economist at


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Mike, thanks for the great article. Super insights.

Unfortunately, at nearly every turn this government is dead set on doing exactly the wrong thing. Our visa requirements for tourists is a classic own goal, but it’s just one among hundreds.

The mining charter is another. Zero foreign investment in mining.

When it comes to business, business is the enemy of the state. People with capital to get them off the ground are often wealthy (but only by our meagre standards) white, and male. In other words white monopoly capitalists. The biggest bunch of parahias in the world. That’s why they’re leaving the country instead of starting up businesses.

One could go on. Drown small businesses in red tape, clear informal traders out of the city centre, and burn down their shops because they come from another country.

We have done everything possible to kill business in this country and now wonder where the jobs are?

So instead of fixing this, we now have EWC which is hell bent on killing off agriculture, the property industry,pensions, etc, while Eskom kills the mines and anything else still standing with a new round of price increases.

You just can’t make this stuff up. As decision making goes, how could it possibly be worse? Let’s think a bit. How about an attack on medical professionals that sees them leaving the country in droves? But of course we’ve got that one covered too.

Firstly Thank you am feeling I did something right with this latest batch of articles.

Moreover I agree fully with the laws and situations the regulations, laws and stupidity of government puts enterprises in. Often they are jioned by unions who still cannot figure out why their members as a whole are declining.

Do not leave out big business and the people employed their forgeting to pay others on time, or the Fact that in the 1990s early 2000s they did not want small busines to get any exemptions from labour laws even while unions and government would have probably granted a consesion or four. (say businesses up to 10 employees.)

Why small business cannot get exemptions today is similar I think and why we need to rethink the whole mess.

Firstly Thank you am feeling I did something right with this latest batch of articles.

Moreover I agree fully with the laws and situations the regulations, laws and stupidity of government puts enterprises in. Often they are jioned by unions who still cannot figure out why their members as a whole are declining.

Do not leave out big business and the people employed their forgeting to pay others on time, or the Fact that in the 1990s early 2000s they did not want small busines to get any exemptions from labour laws even while unions and government would have probably granted a consesion or four. (say businesses up to 10 employees.)

Why small business cannot get exemptions today is similar I think and why we need to rethink the whole mess.

I have a company with one employee and have just discovered what i need to comply with labour laws(compensation fund and UIF) and tax laws. I am horrified and even contemplating closing shop because I cannot comply. Luckily i still have a job.

Dear Customer
The required documents are as follows:
· NB! Affidavit must be made in front of the Commissioner of Oath or Police Official by the owner, member of Close Corporation or director (as listed on CIPC documents, copy of which must be attached) of the business.
o Indicate UIF, SARS and CF reference number
o Sworn affidavit from anyone working for the company or affirmed by employer’s accountant or any one working for the company will not be accepted.
o NB! Ensure that sworn stamp/phrase on affidavit is used by the commissioner of oath or police official (it must not be a certifying stamp).
· Audited Financial Statements / Independently reviewed
· Detailed Payroll Report
· UIF number of the business (Unemployment Insurance Fund)
· SARS document ( EMP 501)
· Power of Attorney (Consultants, bookkeepers, accountants, auditors and attorneys)
· 8 to declare the correct earnings

” How stupid can one country be? ” – Well Mike the evidence is all around us. We teach stupid at schools and then reward them with useless qualifications when they pass knowing very little about anything. We then reward them for pro creating recklessly – child grants. Not working – think unemployment grants.

SA also have the right to criticise, chastise, regularise and punish new and large business to such an extent that most of the large corporates money go overseas to a better business climate – and then we bemoan our fate witch is entirely under our own control. Stupid is as stupid does !!!!

Lost me at “animal spirits”…

…risk taking and endurance

Maybe a culture of harvesting in stead of planting, until there is no more to harvest?

These shocking stats on the South African disaster and the situation that is “No businesses for the unemployed” is the culmination of 25 years of ANC rule.

The ANC have created the most dis enabling economic environment for business and employers in the world as shown in the graphs.

The greed of corrupt ANC cadres and ANC mismanagement have hurt the poor of SA terribly.

And while sitting in 3rd place in the global unemployment rankings, King Mswati 111 is focused on changing his country’s name from Swaziland to Eswatini. Wonder what the hungry and unemployed make of that.

Great (and scary) article Mike. Thank You.

Ignorant comment. King Mswati is regularising the name that the Emaswati have always called themselves. And after 50 years, it’s a good time to break from Eswatini’s colonial nomenclature. The name-change also coincided with a new cabinet, (led by younger business leaders – the PM was MD of MTN, the Minister of Finance was a very successful entrepreneur and the Minister of Commerce was an executive with Coca Cola International) and a new Strategic Plan and economic turnaround strategy. Watch this space.

Wow, it only took Swazis 50 years to remove the colonial nomenclature. Well done, guys.

Tell us, for the people that don’t know, how many of Mswati’s relatives are in government?

Also, while you’re here, tell us about Tibiyo TakaNgwane. And the Royal Swazi Sugar Corporation removing people from their land to make way for more of the King’s cane fields.

I’ll listen on the radio.

Swazi …watch this space? Dream on

Long life the King! The way SA is going, it won’t be too long before Swaz….err…eSwatini’s economy will overtake that of SA.

If eSwatini can deliver reliable water supply it’s people going into the future, they may beat SA to it (…which a decade or two down the line, will not function properly without water supply). But have read access to potable water is just as poor in rural areas, as in SA(?) It rains more in Swaziland, so no excuse really.

Good to note they already have a stock exchange (SSE). It indicates there as some parts of the economy not belonging to The King Mswati III 😉

Swazis are famous for their candles. Again, they’re ahead of the curve…SA is in the slow process of changing from electricity to candles (it will happen suddenly), then eSwatini will benefit with waxy sales.

Dear Chop.

Absolutely untrue that that people are being evicted by Tibiyo or RSSC to make way for the Kings fields. I work closely with the formal private sector in Eswatini. This is all a political campaign by unions, and absolutely untrue. Enjoy the music.

Mike thanks for a great article and timely for the budget.

There is just one thing I would like to add that government is not getting. Many asset managers would do anything to get a 40% return on assets. The government has a built in system called tax, to get a fabulous return on assets if it promoted small businesses . When you can get 40% return you are prepared to take some loses and still be well off and happy for your investment … especially into your own people. This aspect is lost in the government and they turn to tenderpreneurs. Tenderpreneurs do not add creativity or growth, they mere add cost to the system. This process cannot grow the economy, it will only kill it in time … our current situation.
To grow it Government needs to allow innovation and encourage innovation. They need to get out of the way. They stymie it through regulation. In the end the government is its own worst enemy and is perpetuating the problem.

Government policies cannot create jobs. It can merely incentivize positive behaviour. Socialist policies punish value-adding behaviour and incentivize parasitic behaviour.
Locals actually do have the entrepreneurial spirit. South Africans are innovative entrepreneurs all right. The definition of entrepreneurship is “The capacity and willingness to develop, organize and manage a business venture along with any of its risks in order to make a profit.” The best entrepreneur takes the easiest and shortest route that carries the least risk, to reap the maximum reward. The easiest road to riches in South Africa is a government contract, especially if you are politically connected.

The most popular business model in South Africa is to get the support (promise bribes) of a big enough group of locals in your community. The second step is to use the power of your constituency to put pressure on ANC politicians to ensure a BEE deal for you. This gives you a license to write your own cheque. Why would anybody study for years, borrow money, work long hours, face angry unions and a lot of red tape, to have 30% of their business taken away from hem by BEE laws, if they can simply use the looting mentality of the government in their favour? BEE is parasitic by definition.

The ANC government enables the proliferation of entrepreneurship, and channels all efforts into politically connected ventures. The easiest road to riches, with the least risk, is to become a municipal counsellor or a cabinet minister. This is how socialism destroys the economy and jobs. People with the entrepreneurial spirit take the road of least resistance and join the looters instead of building assets and creating jobs.

An entrepreneur follows incentives. ANC policies incentivize looting and penalizes job creation. This is why we have many looters and few jobs. The fact that only 40% of locals are employed proves the criminal “efficiency” of ANC policies.

When will this looting mentality stop, and when will job-creation start? When it becomes more risky to loot, and less risky to create jobs. We need law and order, criminals must go to jail, scrap BEE laws, tax brackets must be lowered and the power of labour unions should be demolished. In other words – it will never happen under ANC rule.

Well said Mike – no, there aren’t a bigger disaster than SA’s unemployment in the world!

It’s only a matter of time before the bomb explodes!

Moeletsi Mbeki predicted that SA’s “Tunisia Day” will arrive. Tunisia Day is when the masses rise against the powers that be, as happened recently in Tunisia. The year will be 2020, give or take a couple of years. The year 2020 is when China estimates that its current minerals-intensive industrialisation phase will be concluded.

‘’For SA, this will mean the African National Congress (ANC) government will have to cut back on social grants, which it uses to placate the black poor and to get their votes. China’s current industrialisation phase has forced up the prices of SA’s minerals, which has enabled the government to finance social welfare programmes”

‘’The former British prime minister, Margaret Thatcher, once commented that whoever thought that the ANC could rule SA was living in Cloud Cuckoo Land. Why was Thatcher right? In the 24 years of ANC rule, all the symptoms of a government out of its depth have grown worse”
• Life expectancy has declined from 65 years to 53 years since the ANC came to power;
• In 2007, SA became a net food importer for the first time in its history;
• The elimination of agricultural subsidies by the government led to the loss of 600000 farm workers’ jobs and the eviction from the commercial farming sector of about 2,4-million people between 1997 and 2007; and
• The ANC stopped controlling the borders, leading to a flood of poor people into SA, which has led to conflicts between SA’s poor and foreign African migrants.
Methinks the ANC with their BEE structures conglomerates from existing private companies and SOE’s, took all their marginal assets and distributed them amongst politically influential colleges and black people, with the purpose not to transform the economy but to create a black political class that is in alliance with the conglomerates and therefore wants to maintain the status quo of the economy and the way in which it operates.
‘’What is the state distributing? It is distributing jobs to party faithful and social welfare to the poor. This is a recipe for incompetence and corruption, both of which are endemic in SA. This is what explains the service delivery upheavals that are becoming a normal part of our environment’’ The State Capture with nincompoops like the Guptas and Bosasa’s Watsons, methinks are only the tip of the iceberg!

I do also get many predictions that are very negative. Somehow that does not worry our politicians as they think they are not the target. but they will not be able to stop all sort of revolts including when the service deliveries become more coordinated; payment revolts; tax revolt etc. They do need to worry more.
On Borders. We do not let skills in and that is a concern. The unskilled stream here for jobs and our unskilled feel the heat

remember though that most won’t be around when that hour arrives.

The ANC’s idea of job creation is grossly expand the civil service, populated by otherwise unemployable cadres, friends and family members, to the point where it becomes almost completely dysfunctional and open to corruption. For the rest, there are social grants. This is how you make sure they keep on voting for you time after time.

Eventually that bubble is going to burst and the country will plunge into a civil war (or something similar) as the cockroaches scramble to take the biggest piece of the dwindling resource pie. Meanwhile the educated and skilled have largely left the country.

Let’s not forget either that we also have a bunch of virtually useless, lazy and corrupt people in this country all making demands. (Fortunately, it is not all of our people.) They are actually unemployable parasites, always looking for an opportunity to get something for nothing and they will USE THEIR VOTE TO GET IT. The problem is getting tough on them won’t get politicians re-elected into power. Just one example is our domestic cleaner. Her daughter age 21 doesn’t have a job and neither has her boyfriend but they now had a baby. The four of them all live together on her mother’s R250 per day in a wendy house in someone’s backyard. I can get her daughter a job if only she finishes matric but that is way too much work. Some people create their own problems and are responsible for their own poverty.

Again, very insightful and well-researched article, Mr Schussler!

Been wondering, since we all know current (official) unemployment figures in SA, does anyone know what was the unemployment rate for all South Africans during the Apartheid era?

(..maybe the Apartheid stats were only conducted amongst the white population? Who knows. Maybe, currently many Zimbos and Mozzos are part of the local Saffa unemployment stats? Have little idea myself, but would be interesting to know.)

I recalled the economist DAWIE ROODT’s opinion in a personal mail between us a year ago (which is also echoed in his book “Tax, Lies & Red Tape”)


“Our problem is, SA has too few super-wealthy people…” (i.e. SA’s economy is not free)

It was Voltaire i believe, that once said “The comfort of the rich depends upon an abundant supply of the poor ”

This, has not changed.

SA DOES have “animal spirits” but, alas, many animals are now in “flight, freeze of fight” mode. Some are spiriting their wealth offshore, others are part of the investment strikes while some ARE fighting back, as in the threat of a tax revolt.

Ironically, many black would-be “animals” (in the Keynesian sense) would love to start businesses but few have the capital of which social, entrepreneurial/’agency’, skills and “battle-proofing” capitals are the most critical; hence so many are forced to be direct or indirect clients of the state. Adding to inefficiencies, corruptheid, wealth destruction and unemployment.

The same lack of ‘agency’ (“get up and go”, capacity to act independently, make their own free choices and act with power) which “allows” male-on-female gender violence holds back many women from taking charge of their lives economically. Unions and EFF-ANC politicians rely upon this, that workers depend upon “Big Men” vanguardians to negotiate with their bosses and to look out for them.

starting and running a business in this country is a BURDEN. The labour laws and tax laws are just cumbersome for small businesses. Give exemption to businesses turning over below R3mil a year to allow people to build their businesses without compliance burdens. Most startups are one man operation how can they possibly comply with all these things. And if you don’t comply they will come after you.

The fact that the minister is very much concerned about the so called protocol when the big 5 countries wrote directly to the president (with very valid concerns) tells me just one thing – the anc has still has not grasped the urgency to rectify the pathetic state that the government is in. In stead of taking note of it and understand it, the 5 countries are being wrapped over the fingers for the anc’s concern about protocol. The same minister offers help “where we can” to the imploded zimbabwe (we sit with +/- 1 500 000 zimbabwians,if not more,in south africa due to pathetic border control) when a 150% fuel increase is announced in that country – the anc government can not help South African citizens but offer help to a foreign country. Wonder if anybody in the anc will be able to explain what the term “an arm’s length transaction” actually means. What is the purpose of BEE if my organization complies more than 200% but the municipality “requires” a total different and unknown BEE measurement?????????

Mike, congratulations for what you have been doing, for a long time, to help improve things.

Question – if unemployment means that you have more people – than jobs – why not focus on the other side of the equation – in having less people!

Having less people, by bringing down population growth, costs a fraction of job creation. Also, addressing both sides of the equation can lead to an exponential improvement in employment rates.

Why are our economists and journalists so scared of tackling population growth? It is key to poverty solution.

Kindly tell, how does this proposal alleviate the existing term crisis?

Because the reason we sit with these problems now, is precisely because the politicians and Economists of 20 years ago DUCKED dealing with these issues when they should have faced up to them.

SAME story today!

The silence of today’s Politicians and Economists on this root cause is paving the way for the problem to not only continue, but escalate.

It’s like having a major water leak.

Yes, you have to fix the leak, but you also have to put effort into turning the water off.

It’s not one or the other. It has to be BOTH.

Entitlement AA BBEEE is chasing young budding non-black african entrepeneurs out of the country, these are the people who would start and grow businesses in this country, and believe it or not employ mainly black people who happen to be 90% of the population. some of these employees with entrepeneurial inkling would start their own businesses.
but no this govt prefers to reward a select politically connected few who do not share their wealth but simply live large and continue to pig out at the trough.
remove red tape lower taxes and watch the economy fly

Mike I do not agree my experiences traveling the African continent is that SA has a low unemployment rate and that people do not value their jobs. I picked up a write up in Tanzania (Protea hotel Dar es Salaam) where it was stated that unemployment was 63%. Discussion with a colleague in Malawi indicated that he estimated unemployment to be 75% similarly our HR manager in Zambia put local unemployment at 50% plus.

Honda…. you did not put into your observation, economy of scales of these countries and size of population

The countries you mention also decayed over the years post independence due to no infrastructure maintenance, no social investment, no future planning of the economy

While you may disagree with me the statistics I used here for unemployment come from the ILO. They are guesstimate in some cases as national statistic office may only survey unemployment one every two or three years. The methods are also however compared and check so that a standard unemployment rate methodology is brought right through.

The fact is that in other countries people do things such as sell goods, service car or wash windows etc. The unemployment stats, therefore, are lower than SA

So the data has a source, a method and is a reasonable representation of what is going on. Reading or hearing something is not the same thing as the person who told you considers all informal traders as unemployed for example while the standard world methodogy says they are employed in the sense that they are self-employed. That means I would rather trust the ILO data and the GEM data here comes from their methodogy and they did only get to 90 countries from 2014 to 2017. They also have access to national statistical offices and do their own surveys. They are not as large as the ILO but are an impressive gather of data and resources are funded by many developing agencies such as South Korea, UK etc.

Long and short of it is that I think the data is a very good reflection of situations on the ground. Some countries such as Zimbabwe may be trying to manipulate the data however but I think most are very reasonable if not 100% accurate reflections of what is going on.


This is a fascinating analysis that summarises the bulk of core economic issues. Well done. Pity you were not one of the 30 economists that recently had an opportunity to make a presentation to CR.

Johannes (EOSA)

Two of my grandchildren, one in his 30s and one in her twenties, have recently emigrated to New Zealand. Does that tell you something?

End of comments.




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