An interview with the future Economist, Baneng Naape

Baneng Naape (23) chats to us about his passion for economics and some of his life achievements as an aspiring Economist.

Tenacity Magazine: Tell us who is Baneng Naape?

Baneng Naape: Baneng Naape (23) was born and bred in Lebowakgomo, a township in Limpopo province. He was raised by a single parent (mother) together with his four female siblings. He attended Little Bedford View Primary school, thereby progressing to S.J Vander Merwe Technical High School. He furthered his studies at the University of Limpopo(UL) where he obtained his Bachelors’ degree and Honours‘ degree majoring in Economics in 2016 and 2017, respectively. Given his passion for Economics, he further enrolled for a Masters’ degree in Economics at Wits University in 2018.

Tenacity Magazine: As an aspiring Economic Analyst, what motivated you to take that  path of becoming an Economic Analyst?

Baneng Naape: To be honest, I was not inspired by an individual, the state of the economy nor the amount of money Economists make. To me, my passion for economics is something that I was born with, more like a God given gift and I just went with the flow because it felt right. I have tried many things in life including boxing, soccer, cricket, athletics and the study of other subjects, but none of them yield the same feeling I get when I study economics. Hence, I believe I am commercially gifted, in that, I excel in anything commerce related.

I believe my purpose in life is to impact the lives of people in so many ways, the study of economics being one of them. Through the study of economics, I have managed to acquire knowledge on how best to allocate scarce resources towards different sectors and needs of the economy. I unconsciously fell in love with economics from the early years of schooling. It is like a fire in me, it keeps on burning.

Tenacity Magazine: You won the Nedbank and Old Mutual Budget Speech competition  earlier this year. Please tell us more on that aspect.

Baneng Naape:  The Nedbank and Old Mutual National Budget Speech Competition is one of my recent greatest achievements. Since then, my life changed in so many ways, both in academia and the corporate world. I began participating in 2016 while I was still at UL and I was inspired by Mr. Kwena Matjekana. I participated because I wanted to be part of a group of young bold economics minds who are courageous enough to address the pressing economics issues in South Africa, than just complaining about them and blaming everything on the government.

In 2016, given my best shot I became a semi-finalist, I gave it another try in 2017 and became a Finalist with the help I received from my Supervisors Ntshokwe Tony Matlasedi and Dr. Rufaro Garidzirai and in 2018, inspired by Ms Ntsiki Mbono, I prepared myself enough and won the competition for Wits University. It took a good dose of writing and presentation skills. This came about reading world economic reports and following economics news on a daily basis.

Tenacity Magazine: In 2017, you made the cut to be part of the Top 100 Future Leaders  of South Africa and got a chance to serve as one of the panelists at  the World Youth Forum. How did you feel when you received the news?  And how was the experience like?

Baneng Naape:  Being part of the Top100 Future Leaders was mainly a result of the quality leadership skills I displayed whilst at UL, wherein I formed a progressive organisation for economics students, known as the “Economics Students Association UL”, to create a culture and feeling of excitement about economics. The organisation has grown from just 10 members in 2016 to over 170 members in 2019. I also assisted in other organisations including APAS, Writers Guild and CAE. Representing South Africa at the World Youth Forum was the best experience ever, as I got the chance to engage with like-minded individuals from all parts of the earth, learn about the Arabic culture and contribute towards the implementation of Agenda 2063: The Africa We Want. When I received the news, I got so excited and knew it was God at work.

Tenacity Magazine: You are serving as a global youth ambassador for several  international organizations. Kindly share with us what inspired you to  voluntary serve as global youth ambassador?

Baneng Naape: I was inspired by the World Youth Forum as it gave me a clear picture of how bad conditions are in other African countries and the role we need to play as youth in addressing those issues. I then volunteered at the International Youth Society and World Literacy foundation, where in we work towards closing the literacy gap of African children and building the leadership qualities of African youth to become future leaders of tomorrow. I have been through that path and I want others to experience the same growth.

Tenacity Magazine: What can you tell us about the Economic State of our beloved  country (South Africa) at the moment? Do you think it is in a good  state?

Baneng Naape: South Africa is not in a good state at the moment amid pressing economic issues including the energy, education, unemployment and inequality crisis. However, given the recent numerous steps undertaken by the Honourable President Ramaphosa, the economy is set in the right growth path. As citizens we need to understand that policy making does not happen overnight, we might experience pain in the short-term, but rest assured we will realise positive outcomes in the long-term. All I can say, is that South Africans need to be patient and start lending a hand, complains and government dependency won’t get us far. A good dose of structural reforms, including investments in renewable energy, a shift towards a technologically led education system, more industrialised sectors and upskill of labour, combating corruption and encouraging domestic savings and early retirement to give youth a chance to lead, amongst others, is all we need.

Tenacity Magazine: In your own opinion, how can we measure the issues of inflation in  South Africa?

Baneng Naape: Inflation has been within the target of 3% to 6% as set by the Reserve Bank and this simply entails that the economy is somewhat stable. The mandate of the Reserve bank is to ensure price and exchange rate stability and it has been successful in doing so.

Tenacity Magazine: What advice would you give to someone who want to follow into your footsteps?

Baneng Naape: I would advise them to listen to their intuition at all times. Praying is necessary but one needs to play their part. I believe all things work together the minute one becomes honest with themselves. Success is not just about being committed and dedicated towards your work. It starts with how you treat others, how you see yourself and relate to the environment. It is about the positive aspirations you have, not only for yourself but also for the world.

As I always say, dreaming is necessary, but the true value of an idea lies in its realisation. Hence, execution has always been key for me, and I believe it takes all the little things we hesitate to do to be successful. One needs to invest in themselves so that they can excel in what they do, and as they constantly excel in what they do, they indirectly inspire others to do more and be better.

Tenacity Magazine: What do you want the nation to remember you about?

Baneng Naape:  Well, I want the nation to remember me for all that I would have done, be it good or bad. Everyone has flaws in life, so it is up to the society whether they decide to focus on my good or bad doings. All that I want, is to leave the world a little better place than I found it. I want my success not to be measured by the amount of materialistic objects that I would have acquired (i.e. cars, houses, money etc), but to be measured by the numbers of lives I would have positively touched.

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