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This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

7. Conclusion

This summary has suggested that the problem of regional inequality in South Africa is both very serious and worsening. The overriding policy implication is that national policy aimed at broad goals such as job creation or sectoral strategies embodied in industrial policy must consider differential regional effects. Unhappily, taking into account spatial effects of policy reveals weaknesses in otherwise desirable policies. For example, increasing productivity by focusing on high-productivity sectors in manufacturing will advantage the already developed regions, increasing interregional inequality. In agriculture, high value-added crops and those likely to be successful export crops are also disproportionately grown in the richer areas (cane is a partial exception to this generalisation).

Adding spatial factors to the constraints on national policy therefore removes some flexibility in national decision-making. The trade-off between growth and equity characteristic of countries at South Africa's level of development is particularly sharp here, because equity has a strong interregional as well as interclass or interracial component. In this context, the economic and political consequences of overlooking the regional dimension could well make national policy unworkable.

This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. Return to the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory site.