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South Africa South Africa

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South Africa – Quick View
ECR score59.2 (Mar 2011)
ECR rank48 (Mar 2011)
GDP 2010USD 363.19 billion
GNI per capita PPP 2010USD 9,812.1
FDI inflow 2009USD 5,696 million
Inflation 20104.3%
Central bank assets (Dec. 2010)USD 43,604.91 million
Tax revenue (2008-2009)USD 78,878.36 million
Government typeParliamentary Democracy
Recent political crisisNA
Economic freedom score74th
Freedom of information score38th
Corruption perception index54th
Birth rate21.33%
Population balanceBelow 14 years – 31%
Population balanceAbove 60 years – 7.6%
Life expectancyMale – 53.3 years
Life expectancyFemales – 55.2 years
Mortality rate13.9%
Internet access10.8%

[Top] Economic Overview

South Africa’s economy is based on manufacturing, mining and financial services. The macro-economic indicators like interest rates and the strength of the Rand of the country are critical for the economic progress of the nation.

Gross domestic product (GDP)

The country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) at current prices in 2010 amounted to ZAR 2,662.76 billion, as compared to ZAR 2,395.97 billion in 2009. The nominal GDP grew by 11.3% in 2010, as compared to a growth of 5.36% in 2009.


(Source: National Statistics)

Major industries contributing to the GDP in terms of their nominal value in 2010 were:

  •  Finance, real estate and business services – 21.2%
  • General government – 16.1%
  • Manufacturing – 14.6%

Real GDP growth

The real GDP growth in 2010 was 2.8%, as compared to a decrease of 1.7% in 2009. The real GDP growth was stable in from 2005 to 2007. Howver, in 2008, the GDP growth dipped to 3.6% and then further to -1.7% in 2009.


(Source: National Statistics)

GDP per capita, PPP

South Africa’s GDP per capita in terms of PPP in 2010 was projected to be USD 4,489.1, as compared to USD 4,490.8 in 2009.


(Source: africaneconomicoutlook.org)

Gross national income (GNI) per capita

The country’s GNI per capita PPP in 2010 was USD 9,812.1 as compared to USD 9,603.3 for the year 2009.


(Source: UNDP)

At the end of third quarter of 2010, total exports of goods and services in South Africa amounted to ZAR 189,887 million, while the imports were valued at ZAR 193,356 million. Hence, the country reported a trade deficit of ZAR 3,469 million.

(Source: Central Bank)

Tax rates

Personal income tax is levied at rates ranging from 18% to 40%.


Income Slabs, ZAR (2008 – 2009)

Tax Rates (%)

Below  122,000


122,001 to 195,000


195,001 to 270,000


270,001 to 380,000


380,001 to 490,000


Above 490,001


(Source: South Africa Revenue Service)


For March 2009

Tax Rates (%)

Corporate Income Tax


Value Added Tax


Secondary Tax on Companies


Donations Tax


Estate Duty


Transfer Duties


Securities Transfer Tax


(Source: South Africa Revenue Service)

Inflation rate

Inflation rate in South Africa at the end of December 2010 was 3.5%. The average inflation rate for 2010 was 4.3%, as compared to 7.1% in 2009.



(Source: National Statistics)

Foreign direct investment (FDI) inflow

The FDI inflow in 2009 amounted to USD 5,696 million, as compared to USD 9,006 million in 2008.

(Source: UNCTAD)

Banking sector assets

The table below displays the assets of the South African Reserve Bank, the country’s central bank.

South African Reserve Bank – Total assets (ZAR)


December 2010

November 2010




SDR holdings



Foreign exchange reserves (excl. SDRs)



Total gold and foreign assets



Domestic assets:


Fixed assets



Loans and advances:





Accommodation to banks:


Repurchase agreements



Utilisation of cash reserves











Other assets

594 787 388


Total Assets



 (Source: Central Bank)

[Top] Financial Indicators & Government Financial

Consumer price index (CPI)

The consumer price index in South Africa is on steady rise. The index figure for December 2010 was 113.0. The annual CPI index figure for 2010 is 111.7, as compared to 107.1 in 2009.

South Africa CPI

Base year, 2008 = 100

(Source: National Statistics)

Interest rates


Market Rates (As on 28th February 2011)


Rates (%)

Repo rate


Overnight FX rate


Treasury bills - 91 days


Treasury bills - 182 days


Treasury bills - 273 days


Treasury bills - 364 days


NCD's - 3 months


NCD's - 6 months


NCD's - 12 months


Prime overdraft rate


(Source: Central Bank)

Money supply (currency in circulation)

According to the South African Reserve Bank (the central bank), money in circulation as of January 2011, was ZAR 2,102,671 million.



January 2011

December 2010

November 2010

October 2010

September 2010































M3 (Seasonally adjusted)






(Source: Central Bank)

M0 - Deposit of banks, mutual banks with the SARB and notes and coins outside the SARB and SA mint

M1A - Coins and banknotes in circulation outside the monetary sector, cheque and transmission deposit with banking institutions and post office savings bank

M1 – M1A plus other demand deposit with banking institutions

M2 - M1 plus other short term deposits, and all medium term deposits (including savings deposits) with the monetary banking institutions

M3 - M2 plus all long term deposit with monetary banking institutions

Government Expenditure

Government expenditures in South Africa exceeded revenues at the end of December 2010. Specifically, government expenditures totaled ZAR 82,781 million and the surplus was ZAR 722 million.

South Africa Cash-flow expenditure

 (Source: Central Bank)

Central government debt

The total central government debt in January 2011 amounted to ZAR 903,819 million. Of the total debt, foreign debt amounted to ZAR 96,826 million.

(Source: Central Bank)

Official exchange rate

ZAR per dollar rate in January 2011 was registered at 6.9 as compared to 6.83 in December 2010.

South Africa Exchange rate

(Source: Central Bank)

Government finances

Fiscal balance

South Africa Fiscal balance


(Source: Central Bank)

The fiscal balance recorded in January 2011 amounted to a deficit of ZAR 7,153 million, as compared to a surplus of ZAR 722 million in December 2010.

Government Revenue

South Africa Cash-flow revenue

(Source: Central Bank)

The national government revenue in January 2011 amounted to ZAR 48,539 million, as compared to ZAR 82,781million in December 2010.

Tax revenue

Tax revenues for 2008/09 amounted to ZAR 657,679.8 million, as compared to ZAR 599,565 for 2007/08. Of the total tax revenue, about 95% are collected at the national level.

 South Africa Tax revenue

(Source: South African Revenue Service)

Current account balance - surplus/deficit

South Africa has registered a current account deficit for the first three quarters of 2010. The current account deficit for the third quarter of 2010 was ZAR 79.2 billion, as compared to a deficit of ZAR 75.4 billion in the corresponding quarter of 2009.

South Africa Current account balance


(Source: Central Bank of South Africa)

Balance of payments

Balance of Payments (ZAR Billion)



2010 (till Q3)

Merchandise exports



Net gold exports



Merchandise imports



Trade balance



Net service, income and current

transfer payments



Balance on current account



(Source: Central Bank)

[Top] Labour Force and Employment Overview


[Top] Political Stability

Form of Government

South Africa has a multiparty parliamentary democractic system of government. Constitutional power is jointly held between the president and the parliament.

The parliament consists of two houses, the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces. The National Assembly is comprised of 400 members who are directly elected for a term of five years. The National Council of Provinces is made up of 90 statutory members. Of the 90 members, 54 are appointed by political parties in provincial legislatures and the remaining 36 are special delegates representing provincial legislatures.

The president is the head of state. The president's responsibility includes assigning cabinet portfolios and approving bills and he is also the commander in chief of the military. The president performs his duty by working closely with the deputy president and the cabinet.

Jacob Zuma, the leader of the African National Congress, was officially chosen as the President by the newly elected parliament in May 2009.

Major political parties in the country are as follows:

  • African National Congress
  • Democratic Alliance
  • Congress of the People
  •  Inkatha Freedom Party
  •  Independent Democrats
  • United Democratic Movement
  • African Christian Democratic Party
  • United Christian Democratic Party
  •  Pan Africanist Congress
  • Minority Front
  • Azanian People's Organisation
  •  African People's Convention
  •  South African Communist Party

(Source: IPU, BBC, southafrica.info)

Regulatory Environment in South Africa

South Africa Economic Freedom Indices


South Africa’s economic freedom score is 62.7, making its economy the 74th in the 2011 Index of Economic Freedom. South Africa ranks fifth out of 46 countries in the Sub-Saharan Africa region. South Africa’s overall score is higher than the global and regional averages.

Corruption perception

The Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) is a survey to measure the perceived level of corruption across countries worldwide. South Africa is ranked 54th on this list, indicating that corruption levels in public departments in the country is fairly low, especially compared to neighbouring nations such as Swaziland, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Namibia.

South Africa’s CPI ranking has improved since 2009, when it was ranked 55th with a score of 4.6, which indicates the perceived levels of corruption have decreased slightly in the country.


Freedom of information

The country’s constitution provides freedom to the press. Laws, regulation and political control over media are considered to be moderate.

(Source: BBC)

World Press Freedom Index 2010 ranks South Africa at 38th with a score of 12.00.

(Source: rsf.org)


Major newspapers in the country include

  • The Star
  • The Sowetan
  • Daily Sun
  • Beeld
  •  Mail & Guardian
  • Business Day
  •  Financial Mail
  • Sunday Times/The Times

(Source: BBC)

Judicial system

The judiciary is an independent arm of the central government. The country’s constitution assures fair trial to all citizens.

Different judicial courts in South Africa are:

  • Constitutional Court
  • Supreme Court of Appeal
  • High courts
  • Circuit local divisions
  • Other high courts
  • Regional courts
  • Magistrates' courts
  • Criminal jurisdiction
  • Other criminal courts
  • Community courts
  • Courts for income tax offenders
  • Family courts
  • Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) developments
  • Mediation in maintenance matters
  • Domestic violence
  • Sexual offences courts
  • Equality courts
  • Civil jurisdiction
  • Small claims courts
  • Other civil courts

The Constitutional Court is the highest judicial authority. It makes the final decision on whether an act of parliament or a provincial act is legal. The constitutional court is comprised of the chief justice of South Africa, the deputy chief justice and nine constitutional court judges. 

The Supreme Court of Appeal and High Courts along with the constitutional court have the authority to safeguard and control their own processes. The Supreme Court of Appeal is located in Bloemfontein, and is the highest court in respect of all matters other than constitutional. Furthermore, high courts take action in issues where lower courts are not competent to make a proper judgment.

(Source:southafrica.info, info.gov.za)

[Top] Demographic Overview

The total population of South Africa by the mid of year 2010 was estimated to be 49.99 million, increasing at a rate of about 1.36% over the previous year. In the period 2005-2010, the country’s population grew at an average rate of 1%

(Source: National Statistics, UN)


Representation of the gender in the country is almost equal. In the year 2009, females accounted for 51.3% of the total population.

(Source: worldbank.org)

South Africa Population by gender

(Source: worldbank.org)

About 31% of the total population is aged 14 years and below and 7.6% of the total population are above 60 years of age.

(Source: National Statistics)

The average life expectancy in South Africa for males is 53.3 years and for females it is 55.2 years (2009).

The mortality rate of infants (per 1,000 live births) was registered at 47 in the year 2010. The crude death rate of country till mid 2010 was 13.9%, higher than previous year’s death rate of 13.6%.

(Source: National Statistics)

South Africa Births and deaths


(Source: National Statistics)


The number births as well as death decreased constantly over the years in the country. In the year 2010, total number of births was 1,066,401 which is 1.14% lower than year 2009. While the number of deaths increased from 637,301 in 2009 to 654,360 in 2010 by 2.67%. But the number of deaths is lower than the year 2005 (661,664 deaths) by 1.10%.

(Source: National Statistics)

Migration and Urbanisation

International migrant stock till mid 2010 was recorded at 1.86 million people. This was approximately 3.7% of the entire population.

(Source: UN)

Urban population in the country grew at an annual rate of 1.4% in the period 2005-2010. For the same period, the rural population witnessed a negative growth of 0.7%. About 60% of the total population lives in urban areas.

(Source: UN)

Ethnic Environment

Ethnic groups in South Africa include:

  • Africans
  • White
  • Coloured
  •  Indian / Asian

About 80% of the population are Christians. Other religions followed in the country include Islam, Hinduism, and Judaism.

(Source: SouthAfrica.info)

Human Development Index

The country ranks 110th out of 182 countries on the Human Development index 2010 conducted by the United Nations. The HDI provides a composite measure of three dimensions of human development: living a long and healthy life (measured by life expectancy), being educated (measured by adult literacy and gross enrolment in education) and having a decent standard of living (measured by purchasing power parity, PPP, income). 

(Source: UNDP)

[Top] Soft Infrastructure

The literacy rate of males and females in the 15-24 age group for 2009 was 89% and 93.1% respectively.

(Source: National Statistics)

Schooling is compulsory between the ages of 7 and 15. Though there are 11 official languages in the country, schools and universities generally use either English or Afrikaans as the language of instruction.

In 2009, the country had 32,103 established public and registered independent education institutions. Of these, 25,906 were ordinary schools and 6,197 were other educational institutions, such as public ABET centres, ECD centres, public FET colleges, special schools and public HE institutions.

The total spending on education in 2010/11 amounted to ZAR 165 billion and is the government’s largest sector of spending. The budget allocation for higher education is projected to be ZAR 21.3 billion in 2011/12 as compared to ZAR 15.3 billion in 2008/09.

(Source: info.gov.za, education.gov.za, National Statistics)


Healthcare system in South Africa is primarily dependent on the public sector, although the private sector is expanding at a rapid pace. Majority of the population uses primary healthcare, which is offered free by the state. The standard of healthcare in country is considered to be amongst the best in the African continent.

The Department of Health plans to establish a National Health Insurance (NHI) system. The NHI system is expected to provide funding and create a service-based health care system.

About 11% of the country’s total budget is spent on public health.

(Source: info.gov.za, southafrica.info)

[Top] Hard Infrastructure

Mass public transit

About 80% of South Africans depend on public transport. The country has a well developed transport infrastructure. The air and rail networks in the country are considered as the largest in the African continent. Transport in the country is been seen a significant factor for economic growth and social development.

(Source: southafrica.info)


The country's ports provide a stop for countries shipping to and from Europe, the Americas, Asia, Australasia and both coasts of Africa.

Major ports in South Africa are, Port of Cape Town, Port of Durban, Port of East London, Port of Mossel Bay, Port of Ngqura, Port of Port Elizabeth, Port of Port Nolloth, Port of Richards Bay, Port of Saldanha and the Naval Base Simon’s Town.

(Source:world port source)


The country has a well developed airport infrastructure. The major airports in the country are Johannesburg, and Cape Town. There are about 195 big and small airports. Some of the major airports in the country are listed below.



Airport name

Runway length



8,300 ft

Cape Town

Cape Town Intl

10,500 ft


Durban Intl

8,000 ft

East London

East London

6,300 ft



6,500 ft


Johannesburg Intl

14,400 ft



9,800 ft



7,200 ft


Gateway Intl

8,400 ft

Port Elizabeth

Port Elizabeth

6,400 ft



16,000 ft


Waterkloof Ab

11,000 ft



10,000 ft


Langebaanweg Ab

7,700 ft



7,300 ft

(Source: Air charter world)

Telecommunications networks

In 2009, 5.3 million people, or 10.8% of the total population, used internet services. In 2008, 10.5% of the population used internet.

South Africa Internet users

(Source:internetworldstats.com, National Statistics)

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