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The minerals-energy complex and South African industrialisation


  • Trevor Bell
  • Greg Farrell


In their recent book Fine & Rustomjee argue that the minerals-energy complex (MEC) as a system of accumulation had a determining and retarding effect on South African industrialisation. The evidence on the share of the MEC sectors in the GDP does not support the contention that the MEC as a system of accumulation has effectively increased the economy's dependence on these sectors. Statistical evidence contradicts Fine & Rustomjee s view that South Africa's import-substituting industrialisation did not move from consumption goods to intermediate and then to capital goods, but in the opposite direction. There is no historical evidence to support the contention that the MEC as a system of accumulation prevented diversification of manufacturing industry and thus retarded industrialisation. Manufacturing industry did diversify both between the wars and in the postwar period. It is suggested that state-promoted developments in MEC manufacturing sectors represented important and necessary steps towards full-scale industrialisation, which began in South Africa between the wars.

Suggested Citation

  • Trevor Bell & Greg Farrell, 1997. "The minerals-energy complex and South African industrialisation," Development Southern Africa, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 14(4), pages 591-613.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:deveza:v:14:y:1997:i:4:p:591-613
    DOI: 10.1080/03768359708439989

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    Cited by:

    1. Isaacs, Gilad, 2014. "The myth of “neutrality” and the rhetoric of “stability”: macroeconomic policy in democratic South Africa," MPRA Paper 54426, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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