South Africa Economy - 2021


SOURCE: 2021 CIA WORLD FACTBOOK

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Economic overview

South Africa is a middle-income emerging market with an abundant supply of natural resources; well-developed financial, legal, communications, energy, and transport sectors; and a stock exchange that is Africa’s largest and among the top 20 in the world.

Economic growth has decelerated in recent years, slowing to an estimated 0.7% in 2017. Unemployment, poverty, and inequality - among the highest in the world - remain a challenge. Official unemployment is roughly 27% of the workforce, and runs significantly higher among black youth. Even though the country's modern infrastructure supports a relatively efficient distribution of goods to major urban centers throughout the region, unstable electricity supplies retard growth. Eskom, the state-run power company, is building three new power stations and is installing new power demand management programs to improve power grid reliability but has been plagued with accusations of mismanagement and corruption and faces an increasingly high debt burden.

South Africa's economic policy has focused on controlling inflation while empowering a broader economic base; however, the country faces structural constraints that also limit economic growth, such as skills shortages, declining global competitiveness, and frequent work stoppages due to strike action. The government faces growing pressure from urban constituencies to improve the delivery of basic services to low-income areas, to increase job growth, and to provide university level-education at affordable prices. Political infighting among South Africa’s ruling party and the volatility of the rand risks economic growth. International investors are concerned about the country’s long-term economic stability; in late 2016, most major international credit ratings agencies downgraded South Africa’s international debt to junk bond status.

Real GDP growth rate

0.06% (2019 est.)

0.7% (2018 est.)

1.4% (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 191

Inflation rate (consumer prices)

4.1% (2019 est.)

4.6% (2018 est.)

5.2% (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 171

Credit ratings

Fitch rating: BB- (2020)

Moody's rating: Ba2 (2020)

Standard & Poors rating: BB- (2020)

Real GDP (purchasing power parity)

$730.913 billion (2019 est.)

$729.799 billion (2018 est.)

$724.1 billion (2017 est.)

note: data are in 2010 dollars

country comparison to the world: 33

GDP (official exchange rate)

$350.032 billion (2019 est.)

Real GDP per capita

$12,482 (2019 est.)

$12,631 (2018 est.)

$12,703 (2017 est.)

note: data are in 2010 dollars

country comparison to the world: 128

Gross national saving

14.9% of GDP (2019 est.)

14.9% of GDP (2018 est.)

16.1% of GDP (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 145

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 2.8% (2017 est.)

industry: 29.7% (2017 est.)

services: 67.5% (2017 est.)

GDP - composition, by end use

household consumption: 59.4% (2017 est.)

government consumption: 20.9% (2017 est.)

investment in fixed capital: 18.7% (2017 est.)

investment in inventories: -0.1% (2017 est.)

exports of goods and services: 29.8% (2017 est.)

imports of goods and services: -28.4% (2017 est.)

Ease of Doing Business Index scores

Overall score: 67 (2020)

Starting a Business score: 81.2 (2020)

Trading score: 59.6 (2020)

Enforcement score: 56.9 (2020)

Agricultural products

sugar cane, maize, milk, potatoes, grapes, poultry, oranges, wheat, soybeans, beef

Industries

mining (world's largest producer of platinum, gold, chromium), automobile assembly, metalworking, machinery, textiles, iron and steel, chemicals, fertilizer, foodstuffs, commercial ship repair

Industrial production growth rate

1.2% (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 151

Labor force

14.687 million (2020 est.)

country comparison to the world: 36

Labor force - by occupation

agriculture: 4.6%

industry: 23.5%

services: 71.9% (2014 est.)

Unemployment rate

28.53% (2019 est.)

27.09% (2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 205

Population below poverty line

55.5% (2014 est.)

Gini Index coefficient - distribution of family income

63 (2014 est.)

63.4 (2011 est.)

country comparison to the world: 1

Household income or consumption by percentage share

lowest 10%: 1.2%

highest 10%: 51.3% (2011 est.)

Budget

revenues: 92.86 billion (2017 est.)

expenditures: 108.3 billion (2017 est.)

Taxes and other revenues

26.6% (of GDP) (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 107

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)

-4.4% (of GDP) (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 163

Public debt

53% of GDP (2017 est.)

51.6% of GDP (2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 92

Fiscal year

1 April - 31 March

Current account balance

-$10.626 billion (2019 est.)

-$13.31 billion (2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 191

Exports

$123.864 billion (2019 est.)

$127.055 billion (2018 est.)

$123.79 billion (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 40

Exports - partners

China 15%, United Kingdom 8%, Germany 7%, United States 6%, India 6% (2019)

Exports - commodities

gold, platinum, cars, iron products, coal, manganese, diamonds  (2019)

Imports

$131.721 billion (2019 est.)

$132.365 billion (2018 est.)

$128.141 billion (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 40

Imports - partners

China 18%, Germany 11%, United States 6%, India 5% (2019)

Imports - commodities

crude petroleum, refined petroleum, cars and vehicle parts, gold, broadcasting equipment (2019)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

$50.72 billion (31 December 2017 est.)

$47.23 billion (31 December 2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 39

Debt - external

$179.871 billion (2019 est.)

$173.714 billion (2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 43

Exchange rates

rand (ZAR) per US dollar -

14.9575 (2020 est.)

14.64 (2019 est.)

14.05125 (2018 est.)

12.7581 (2014 est.)

10.8469 (2013 est.)

NOTE: The information regarding South Africa on this page is re-published from the 2021 World Fact Book of the United States Central Intelligence Agency and other sources. No claims are made regarding the accuracy of South Africa 2021 information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about South Africa 2021 should be addressed to the CIA or the source cited on each page.

This page was last modified 16 Dec 23, Copyright © 2023 ITA all rights reserved.