Economy in South Africa

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Economy—overview: South Africa is a middle-income developing country with an abundant supply of resources well developed financial legal communications energy and transport sectors a stock exchange that ranks among the 10 largest in the world and a modern infrastructure supporting an efficient distribution of goods to major urban centers throughout the region. Growth has been positive since the historic election of President Nelson MANDELA in the country's first multi-racial elections in 1994 but not strong enough to cut into the substantial unemployment. Daunting economic problems remain from the apartheid era especially the problems of poverty and economic empowerment among the blacks. Other problems are crime and corruption. The new South African Government demonstrated its commitment to open markets privatization and a favorable investment climate with the release of its macroeconomic strategy in June 1996. Called "Growth Employment and Redistribution this policy framework includes the introduction of tax incentives to stimulate new investment in labor-intensive projects, expansion of basic infrastructure services, the restructuring and partial privatization of state assets, continued reduction of tariffs and subsidies to promote economic efficiency, improved services to the disadvantaged, and integration into the global economy.

GDP: purchasing power parity—$270 billion (1997 est.)

GDP—real growth rate: 3% (1997 est.)

GDP—per capita: purchasing power parity—$6,200 (1997 est.)

GDP—composition by sector:

agriculture: 5%

industry: 37%

services: 58% (1995 est.)

Inflation rate—consumer price index: 9.7% (1997 est.)

Labor force:

total: 14.2 million economically active (1996)

by occupation: services 35%, agriculture 30%, industry 20%, mining 9%, other 6%

Unemployment rate: 30% (1997 est.); note—an additional 11% of the workforce is underemployed


revenues: $30.5 billion

expenditures: $38 billion, including capital expenditures of $2.6 billion (FY94/95 est.)

Industries: mining (world's largest producer of platinum, gold, chromium), automobile assembly, metalworking, machinery, textile, iron and steel, chemical, fertilizer, foodstuffs

Industrial production growth rate: 1.2% (1996 est.)

Electricity—capacity: 34.566 million kW (1995)

Electricity—production: 163.56 billion kWh (1995)

Electricity—consumption per capita: 3,559 kWh (1995)

Agriculture—products: corn, wheat, sugarcane, fruits, vegetables; beef, poultry, mutton, wool, dairy products


total value: $31.3 billion (f.o.b., 1997)

commodities: gold 20%, other minerals and metals 20%-25%, food 5%, chemicals 3% (1997)

partners: Italy, Japan, US, Germany, UK, other EU countries, Hong Kong


total value: $28 billion (f.o.b., 1997)

commodities: machinery 32%, transport equipment 15%, chemicals 11%, petroleum products, textiles, scientific instruments (1994)

partners: Germany, US, Japan, UK, Italy

Debt—external: $23.5 billion (1997 est.)

Economic aid:

recipient: ODA, $NA

note: current aid pledges include US $600 million over three years, 1994-96; UK $150 million over three years; Australia $21 million over three years; Japan $1.3 billion over two years ending in 1996; EU $833 million over five years

Currency: 1 rand (R) = 100 cents

Exchange rates: rand (R) per US$1—4.94193 (January 1998), 4.60796 (1997), 4.29935 (1996), 3.62709 (1995), 3.55080 (1994), 3.26774 (1993)

Fiscal year: 1 April—31 March

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