Earlier this week, South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa signed into law the national minimum wage bill, a move part of efforts by the government to tackle income inequality in Africa’s most industrialized economy. The National Minimum Wage Act sets South Africa’s minimum wage at 20 rand ($1.45) an hour, equal to 3,500 rand per month. In Nigerian currency, that’s about N126,000 naira, more than four times the minimum wage in Africa’s ‘giant nation.’ The law will come into force on a date to be determined by Ramaphosa, the presidency said.
The Global Wage Report 2018/19 released yesterday reveals that the world’s wage growth also hit a 10-year low, the last of its kind being in 2007. While supporters of the minimum wage say it will reduce inequality and stimulate economic growth as workers spend more, critics argue that it could lead to increased unemployment, already at record highs, because some employers won’t be able to afford higher wage bills. Ramaphosa’s office said in a statement that while the national minimum wage will not end income inequality, it was a first step towards addressing the clamor for a living wage.