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South Africa's policy of broad-based-black economic empowerment (B-BBEE) is not simply a moral initiative to redress the wrongs of the past. It is a pragmatic growth strategy that aims to realise the country's full economic potential while helping to bring the black majority into the economic mainstream.

In the decades before South Africa achieved democracy in 1994, the apartheid government excluded African, Indian and coloured people from meaningful participation in the country's economy.

Towards broad-based growth

Broad-based black economic empowerment – is not affirmative action, although employment equity forms part of it. Nor does it aim to take wealth from white people and give it to blacks. It is essentially a growth strategy, targeting the South African economy's weakest point: inequality.

"No economy can grow by excluding any part of its people, and an economy that is not growing cannot integrate all of its citizens in a meaningful way," the DTI says.

"As such, this strategy stresses a B-BBEE process that is associated with growth, development and enterprise development, and not merely the redistribution of existing wealth."

Broad-based black economic empowerment is thus an important policy instrument aimed at broadening the economic base of the country – and through this, at stimulating further economic growth and creating employment.

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