Development ‘report card’ shows where government is failing and succeeding

 ·18 Feb 2021

Economists from the Bureau for Economic Research (BER) have published a new report which aims to measure South Africa’s achievement of its development objectives set out in the National Development Plan (NDP).

The NDP, adopted in 2012, was written to reflect South Africa’s national development objectives and serve as a policy guide to 2030.

While the detail contained in the close to 500 pages of the NDP is necessary for context, insight and policy guidance, it does not allow for effective monitoring and evaluation of progress with achieving the goals set out in the plan, the BER said.

“There is thus a need for a concise set of indicators that can measure progress towards South Africa’s development objectives,” it said.

“To respond to this need, the BER developed, in collaboration with a network of more than 20 partners from 18 institutions, as well as input from NPC commissioners, a set of indicators that are aligned with the Sixth Administration’s seven priorities and each of the NDP chapters.”

The BER said that indicators were chosen to reflect on output as opposed to inputs such as spending and resource allocation.

“The objective of the BER’s NDP Assessment Report is to give a data-driven view of progress with South Africa’s development in as short and concise a format as possible.

“Where inadequate progress is observed, it remains the decision-makers prerogative and responsibility to decide which policy levers to pull and which issues to prioritise.”


The heatmap below provides a summary of South Africa’s progress towards select development objectives.

The BER said it is a visual representation of the direction in which different indicators have trended since 2012.

“Colours illustrate performance measured against NDP targets or, in the absence of explicit targets, against global averages, where relevant.

“This is by no means an exhaustive list of the problems that we need to address or the objectives that we need to achieve.

“It serves to provide an overview of how we are progressing with the NDP’s vision for 2030, and the seven priorities of the sixth administration.”

The BER said that the report shows progress in South Africa’s development in some areas, though outcomes have fallen short of the NDP’s aspirations in several key indicators.

“Delays and shortcomings in implementation of social and economic reforms have contributed to this, alongside failures to adapt plans and programmes to changes in conditions.

“More deliberate efforts to measure and report progress are needed. Clear lines of responsibility and timely consequence management are imperative.”

The BER said that its report aims to contribute to better performance assessment of ministers, premiers and mayors, of executive boards and investment committees, of Nedlac and other joint decision forums and of parliament, provincial councils and municipalities.

“South Africa requires stronger feedback and accountability to ensure improved developmental outcomes.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted and intensified many of South Africa’s developmental challenges. Strong corrective action is needed to realise the priorities of the sixth administration.”

Read: Mboweni needs to avoid walking into a wage bill trap

Show comments
Subscribe to our daily newsletter