Economic Trends/Outlook in South Africa

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Economic Overview

South Africa is the economic giant of the African continent, contributing nearly 40% to the total African GDP. In the secondary sector, 75% of the biggest African companies are South African. Rebonding after the severe international economic crisis and enjoying the benefits of the organization of the World Football Cup in 2010, the South-African economy  has experienced a slight recovery in 2010, with an estimated growth at 3%, with an expectation of a speedier growth in 2011.


The government is mainly focusing on the construction of infrastructure, support of the industry, improvement of labor skills, on speeding up the agricultural reform and reducing criminality. After pursuing the policy of economic stimulus in 2010, the government is planning to tighten its budgetary policy in 2011 and reduce non-priority expenses in order to contain the deficit.

Unemployment, which affects nearly a third of the country's active population and AIDS (infecting nearly 12% of the population) are a cause for major concerns to the country's overall economic development. A third of the population continues to live below the poverty line and social inequalities remain high.

Main Indicators 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
GDP (billions USD) 283.98 357.26e 383.12e 402.49e 423.78e
GDP (Constant Prices, Annual % Change) -1.7 2.8e 3.5e 3.8e 4.2e
GDP per Capita (USD) 5,758e 7,158e 7,585e 7,874e 8,192e
General Government Balance (in % of GDP) -4.8 -5.0e -4.9e -4.4e -3.7e
General Government Gross Debt (in % of GDP) 30.9 35.7e 39.6e 41.7e 42.8e
Inflation Rate (%) 7.1e 4.3e 4.9e 5.8e 5.5e
Unemployment Rate (% of the Labor Force) 24.3 24.8e 24.4e 23.7e 23.5e
Current Account (billions USD) -11.45e -16.32e -22.87e -25.36e -
Current Account (in % of GDP) -4.0e -5.0e -6.7e -7.0e -

Source: IMF - World Economic Outlook Database

Note: (e) Estimated Data


Main Sectors of Industry

South Africa has a subsoil rich in mineral resources. It is the world's largest producer and exporter of gold and platinum and the 5th largest producer of diamonds. The country produces 70% of the world's platinum and also has 60% of the world's coal reserves.

The country has diverse manufacturing industries and is a world leader in several specialized sectors, including railway rolling stock, synthetic fuels, mining equipment and machinery. The services sector is flourishing (almost two thirds of the GNP) and tourism should continue to grow after the stimulus it has received from the World Football Cup.  Agriculture only represents a small part of the GNP but employs 30% of the country's active population. South Africa is the 6th largest producer of wine in the world.

South Africa has a sophisticated financial structure with an active stock exchange that ranks among the world's top 20 in terms of market capitalization. Nevertheless, it has to be pointed out that the Rand weakened considerably during the financial crisis. Consequently, the South African government has put in place funds to support companies to guard against a higher depreciation.

Breakdown of Economic Activity By Sector Agriculture Industry Services
Employment By Sector (in % of Total Employment) 8.8 26.0 64.9
Value Added (in % of GDP) 3.0 31.1 65.8
Value Added (Annual % Change) -3.2 -7.2 1.1

Source: World Bank - Last Available Data.

For more detailed background on Industries in South Africa, click here.

Indicator of Economic Freedom

Moderately free
World Rank:
Regional Rank:

Distribution of Economic freedom in the world
Source: 2011 Index of Economic freedom, Heritage Foundation


Country Risk

See the Country Risk Analysis Provided By Ducroire.


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