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Dr. Miriam Altman

Commissioner, National Planning Commission, SA Presidency & Former Chief of Strategy and Regulatory Affairs, Telkom at National Planning Commission, SA Presidency

Profile

Dr. Altman is a part-time Commissioner on the National Planning Commission in the Office of the South African Presidency. She served in its first term, from 2010 to 2015, and was reappointed for a second term in September 2015. This body was established to guide long term planning for South Africa.  Amongst other responsibilities, she chairs a committee focused on infrastructure and State Owned Entity delivery. In her private capacity, she is deeply engaged in driving digital education solutions.

She was Head of Strategy and Regulatory Affairs for the Telkom Group from 2013 to April 2016. Telkom is South Africa’s largest fixed line telecommunications operator. It is fair to say that in 2013 Telkom was disliked by its stakeholders – government, the regulator, shareholders and customers. Dr Altman was positioned to coordinate Telkom’s strategic repositioning and turnaround. The early success of this programme is reflected in its share value rising from $1.2 in May 2013 to $6.6 in August 2015.  Real improvements in company financials, regulatory matters, customer service and market repositioning are evident, as is Telkom’s emergence as Government’s lead broadband agency. 

Dr. Altman was Executive Director at the Human Sciences Research Council in South Africa from 2002 to 2013. She is recognised as a leading economist, strategist and thought leader.  The “Employment Scenarios” programme was her flagship at the HSRC. This drew leaders from government, the private sector, labour and academia together over a period of years to define a vision and practical strategies to address extremely high unemployment in South Africa. The HSRC Employment Scenarios were heavily relied on in the conceptualisation and direction of South Africa’s first National Development Plan.

She has led major public policy and development programmes in urban renewal, and industrial development. She was Head of Economic Development in a multi-billion Rand township renewal programme (Alexandra) and Project Leader of the 1998 Employment Strategy and Presidential Jobs Summit. She regularly advises international, national, provincial, and municipal leaders on policy that advances efforts to stimulate the economy, promote employment and reduce poverty.

She has a BA in economics from McGill University, an MPhil from the University of Cambridge and a PhD in economics from the University of Manchester. Dr Altman has produced more than 100 publications. She was commissioning editor of approximately 400 policy papers and publications in her division at the HSRC, and was guest editor of four special edition journals. She will soon launch her website posting this work, in partnership with South Africa’s National Treasury.