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Economic Outlook 2019

Economic stagnation requires action, but will it be delivered in an election year or will the system continue to crack? Beyond the obvious headlines and current rhetoric, this conference examines the fundamentals, opportunities, inherent weaknesses and prospects for the South African economy in 2019.

Tied to this, of course, is the impact of politics and historical constraints, especially inequality and economic exclusion. Based on the structure of the South African economy, and the twin burdens of large skill gaps and high rates of unemployment, we ask if economic growth alone can answer South Africa’s challenges. 

This conference will unpack the following issues: 

  • The impact politics is likely to have in an election year;
  • The economic outlook for 2019 and the next few years;
  • The near-term and longer-term wins that would help leapfrog our economy to join the fast-growing African economy;
  • How to ensure that the country plays best its competitive advantage, and the implications if it fails to do so;
  • Attracting investment and its impact on growth;
  • Geo-politics and it's effect on emerging markets which are directly impacted by policy and trade decisions;

  • China in Africa;

  • The land debate.


Prof Adrian Saville, GIBS faculty.


Jacko Maree,  chairman Liberty Holdings, Presidential Investment Envoy;

Joel Netshitenzhe,  executive director and board vice-chairperson of the Mapungubwe Institute for Strategic Reflection (MISTRA)

Themba Baloyi, founder and executive director of Discovery Insure;

Judge Dennis Davis, serving Judge of the High Court, member of the Commission of Enquiry into Tax Structure of South Africa;

Lungisa Fuzile, chief executive officer and executive director at Standard Bank of South Africa;

Stephen Grootes, political commentator and award-winning journalist;

Dr Azar Jammine, director and chief economist, Econometrix;

Professor Ruth Hall,  sits on the President's advisory panel on land reform and  researcher and professor at the University of the Western Cape’s Institute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies (PLAAS);

Dennis George,  general secretary, The Federation of Unions of South Africa; 

Tanya Cohen, chief executive, Business Unity South Africa (BUSA);

Gina Schoeman, SA economist, Citibank Global Economists Team;

Ann Bernstein, executive director, Centre for Development and Enterprise;

Prince Mashele, author and political analyst;

Prof Tinyiko Maluleke, leading political commentator, University of Pretoria and board of the National Research Foundation (NRF);

Annabel Bishop, chief economist, Investec;

Michael Sassoon, CEO: Sasfin Holdings Limited;

Kamal Ramburuth-Hurt is the co-founder and Chairperson at Rethinking Economics for Africa at Wits University;

Xhanti Payi, economist and head of research at Nascence Advisory and Research;

Seamus Duggan, senior analyst, Control Risks;

Kobus van der Wath, founder & group managing director, Axis Group International / The Beijing Axis and

Ndoni Mcunu, CEO, Black Women in Science (BWIS)

Click here to view programme

Discounts: Book for 5 people or more and receive a 20% discount

Companies wishing to sponsor this conference can contact Katie Kilpatrick on


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  • Abdullah Verachia is a sought-after global speaker, board and EXCO advisor and practice strategist. He has  served in senior executive and board roles, has crafted competitive strategies for leading companies and governments around the world, lectured at some of the top ranked business schools and built and run successful companies. Abdullah also serves on a number of boards. Abdullah fuses practice, education, insight, empathy, and experience into a beautiful tapestry that adds massive value at all levels. 

    He serves as the founder and CEO of The Strategists ( In this role he leads a team that assists companies and organizations craft competitive future strategies and build innovation functions. He has significant expertise in strategy, innovation, and disruption - facilitates several high-level strategy sessions and breakaways for companies and governments, as well as speak globally in this area. 

    Abdullah has led strategy, innovation, and consulting assignments in an array of sectors including banking, mining, finance, asset management, construction, insurance, legal, audit, FMCG, telecoms, retail and automotive. He and his team have consulted and guided over 200 global multinationals, listed and non-listed firms to build disruptive, ambidextrous organizations with a focus on building present and future success.  He has also built several disruptive and truly innovative companies.  

    He led the team that crafted the 2017 - 2030 Gauteng Economic Development Strategy with the Premier and Executive Council. He also led the 2017 Mauritius Competitiveness foresight strategy and has also played a role in assisting the Presidential State-Owned Enterprises Council (PSEC) on Governance in South Africa. Abdullah also plays a lead role on the Oxford University and Gates Foundation program on South Africa in a Digital Age. 

    Having presented and consulted in over 60 cities globally he has been recognized as a leading speaker, disruptor, strategist and thought leader on competitiveness and the interplay between strategy and disruption, His experience makes him a sought-after global speaker in these areas. In December 2017, he received a standing ovation at the acclaimed TEDx Euston in London. Abdullah was also asked to be the keynote speaker at the 2018 World Speech Day. 

    Abdullah has presented around the world to leading listed firms, international organizations and governments including in Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzen, Mumbai, Bangalore, Dubai Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong, Accra, Dar Es Salaam, Nairobi, Frankfurt, Munich, Copenhagen, Madrid, Paris, London, and New York. He has been asked to present at some of the world's leading institutions including the School of Public and International Affairs at Colombia University in New York, TEDx Euston, the OECD Paris and Casa Asia in Madrid amongst others. 

    He is a regular media commentator for several publications including CNBC Africa, BBC, CCTV, CNN, SABC, Moneyweb, Business Day, SAFM, 702, Al Jazeera, New York Times, Financial Times, Reuters, and the Sunday Times. He authored the book Disruption Amplified: Reset, Rewire, Reimagine everything. He also co-authored a book on the commercial corridor between Africa and India as well as contributed to "The Book every business owner must read." 

    Verachia has a passion for education and serves as faculty at GIBS as well as program director for the Harvard Senior Executive Program on Africa. He has won several awards for excellence in teaching. He is also the recipient of the Harvard Business School Deans scholarship for leadership and innovation and was also selected for the Brightest Young Minds in South Africa

    Abdullah serves on several boards. Companies and organizations have found his unique blend of legal, business, emerging market, digital, strategy, innovation, academic and human capital experience to add incredible value to their organizations. He is globally sought after for his ability to advise and guide senior leaders and teams to build disruptive and ambidextrous organizations. 


    • PhD Innovation, Strategy (GIBS) - still in progress 
    • MIM-cum laude (MM) (WBS)  
    • LLB (UJ) 
    • GMP (Harvard Business School)
    • Strategy and Shared value (Harvard Business School)
    • EDP (Oxford University: Said Business School)
    • Executive Program in Broadcast technology (CU)



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