Sandton Convention Centre (SCC) was aptly chosen as the location for the 2014 Summit on 20 years of Economic Freedom, ahead of this year’s commemorative celebrations. Situated in the economic hub of Africa, Sandton, the SCC created the ideal platform to discuss the critical issue of whether South Africa’s legal and policy framework helps or hinders true economic transformation.

Sponsored by the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC), the Eskom Development Foundation, the National African Federated Chamber of Commerce (Nafcoc), Glenfiddich and Mail & Guardian, the stage was set for a full day of lively debate when, after the opening proceedings, Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe addressed delegates by detailing how the current democratic state can be proud of what has been achieved but should also recognise its failures.

The Summit was pivotal in highlighting the learnings, successes and failures of the last 20 years, with a view to identifying focus areas for the future, such as the implementation of coherent economic policies, as proposed by Professor Adam Habib, vice-chancellor and principal of the University of the Witwatersrand and moderator of the Summit, and the establishment of a ministry for SMMEs to address the lack of focus in developing the small, micro, and medium enterprise (SMME), highlighted by Reverend Joe Hlongwane, president of Nafcoc. Key issues debated by the panel included economic growth, SMME focus, BBBEE, the need for active participation by communities in the programmes designed to address their needs,  and inflation and debt levels, with insights shared by our country’s opinion leaders.

1.Matifadza Nyazema (Executive Director, Sandton Convention Centre), Mr Trevor Ncube (Chairperson, Mail & Guardian) and Mr Hoosain Karjieker (CEO, Mail & Guardian)

Matifadza Nyazema (Executive Director, Sandton Convention Centre), Mr Trevor Ncube (Chairperson, Mail & Guardian) and Mr Hoosain Karjieker (CEO, Mail & Guardian)

Commenting on the significance of Sandton Convention Centre hosting this auspicious event, Executive Director Mati Nyazema says, “The hosting of an event which reviewed South Africa’s 20 years of transformation ahead of the anniversary of South Africa’s independence in April was fitting in that Sandton Convention Centre could be considered one of the success stories of our country’s transformation.

Twenty years ago the SCC did not exist, and today it is a thriving platform for ideas on critical issues such as health, rejuvenation of the city, environmental awareness, the role of the youth, mayoral interventions such as the C40 Summit and so much more, not to mention providing a venue for cultural events that are tourism drivers. We are extremely proud to be one of the successes of a transformed South Africa and to have hosted an event that highlights South Africa’s journey over the last two decades.”