What type of economic system does South Africa have
The economy of South Africa is the second largest in Africa, after Nigeria. South Africa accounts for percent of Africa’s gross domestic product (PPP), and it is ranked as an upper-middle-income economy by the World Bank – one of only four such countries in Africa (alongside Botswana, Gabon and Mauritius). Since 1996, at the end of over twelve years of international sanctions, South Africa’s Gross Domestic Product has almost tripled to $400 billion, and foreign exchange reserves have increased from $3 billion to nearly $50 billion creating a diversified economy with a growing and sizable middle class, within two decades of establishing democracy and ending apartheid. In 2016 the top five challenges to doing business in the country were inefficient government bureaucracy, restrictive labour regulations, a shortage of educated workers, political instability, and corruption, whilst the country’s strong banking sector was rated as a strongly positive feature of the economy. The nation is amongst the G-20, and is the only African member of the group.
South African Economic Sectors
South Africa has a comparative advantage in the production of agriculture, mining and manufacturing products relating to these sectors. South Africa has shifted from a primary and secondary economy in the mid-twentieth century to an economy driven primarily by the tertiary sector in the present day which accounts for an estimated 65% of GDP or $230 billion in nominal GDP terms. The country’s economy is reasonably diversified with key economic sectors including mining, agriculture and fisheries, vehicle manufacturing and assembly, food processing, clothing and textiles, telecommunication, energy, financial and business services, real estate, tourism, transportation, and wholesale and retail trade.
Mining has been the main driving force behind the history and development of Africa’s most advanced economy. Large-scale and profitable mining started with the discovery of a diamond on the banks of the Orange River in 1867 by Erasmus Jacobs and the subsequent discovery and exploitation of the Kimberley pipes a few years later. Gold rushes to Pilgrim’s Rest and Barberton were precursors to the biggest discovery of all, the Main Reef/Main Reef Leader on Gerhardus Oosthuizen’s farm Langlaagte, Portion C, in 1886, the Witwatersrand Gold Rush and the subsequent rapid development of the gold field there, the biggest of them all.
South Africa is one of the world’s leading mining and mineral-processing countries. Though mining’s contribution to the national GDP has fallen from 21% in 1970 to 6% in 2011, it still represents almost 60% of exports. The mining sector accounts for up to 9% of value added.
In 2008, South Africa’s estimated share of world platinum production amounted to 77%; kyanite and other materials, 55%; chromium, 45%; palladium, 39%; vermiculite, 39%; vanadium, 38%; zirconium, 30%; manganese, 21%; rutile, 20%; ilmenite, 19%; gold, 11%; fluorspar, 6%; aluminium, 2%; antimony, 2%; iron ore, 2%; nickel, 2%; and phosphate rock, 1%.South Africa also accounted for nearly 5% of the world’s polished diamond production by value. The country’s estimated share of world reserves of platinum group metals amounted to 89%; hafnium, 46%; zirconium, 27%; vanadium, 23%; manganese, 19%; rutile, 18%; fluorspar, 18%; gold, 13%; phosphate rock, 10%; ilmenite, 9%; and nickel, 5%. It is also the world’s third largest coal exporter.
The mining sector has a mix of privately owned and state-controlled mines, the latter including African Exploration Mining and Finance Corporation.
Agriculture and food processing
The agricultural industry contributes around 5% of formal employment, relatively low compared to other parts of Africa, as well as providing work for casual labourers and contributing around 2.8% of GDP for the nation. However, due to the aridity of the land, only 13.5% can be used for crop production, and only 3% is considered high potential land. The sector continues to face problems, with increased foreign competition and crime being two of the major challenges for the industry. The government has been accused of either putting in too much effort, or not enough effort, to tackle the problem of farm attacks as opposed to other forms of violent crime.
Maize production, which contributes to a 36% majority of the gross value of South Africa’s field crops, has also experienced negative effects due to climate change. The estimated value of loss, which takes into consideration scenarios with and without the carbon dioxide fertilisation effect, ranges between tens and hundreds of millions of Rands.
According to FAOSTAT, South Africa is one of world’s largest producers of: chicory roots (4th); grapefruit (4th); cereals (5th); green maize and maize (7th); castor oil seed (9th); pears (9th); sisal (10th); fibre crops (10th). In the first quarter of 2010, the agricultural sector earned export revenues for R10.1 billion and used R8.4 billion to pay for imported agricultural products, therefore earning a positive trade balance of R1.7 billion.
The most important agricultural exports of South Africa include: edible fruit and nuts, beverages, preserved food, tobacco, cereals, wool not carded or combed, miscellaneous food, sugar, meat, milling products, malt and starch. These products accounted for over 80% of agricultural export revenue in the first quarter of 2010. The most important agricultural imports, which accounted for over 60% of agricultural import value during the same period, include: cereals, meat, soya-bean oil cake, beverages, soya-bean oil and its fractions, tobacco, palm oil and its fractions, miscellaneous food, spices, coffee, tea, and preserved food.
The dairy industry consists of around 4,300 milk producers providing employment for 60,000 farm workers and contributing to the livelihoods of around 40,000 others.
The food sub-sector is the largest employer within the agro-processing sector – contributing 1.4% to total employment, and 11.5% within the manufacturing sector. In 2006, the agro-processing sector represented 24.7% of the total manufacturing output. Although the economy as a whole gained 975,941 jobs between 1995 and 2006, the agro-processing sector lost 45,977 jobs. The competitive pressures from abroad, particularly from China and India, played a role in the decline of exports for the food, textiles and paper sub-sectors, as firms in these sectors increasingly compete with lower cost producers. Increased exports from the beverages, tobacco, wood and leather sub-sectors over the period are probably due to the presence of large dominant firms within these sectors in South Africa, that have managed to remain competitive.
The manufacturing industry’s contribution to the economy is relatively small, providing just 13.3% of jobs and 15% of GDP. Labour costs are low, but not nearly as low as in most other emerging markets, and the cost of the transport, communications and general living is much higher.
The South African automotive industry accounts for about 10% of South Africa’s manufacturing exports, contributes 7.5% to the country’s GDP and employs around 36,000 people. Annual production in 2007 was 535,000 vehicles, out of a global production of 73 million units in the same year. Vehicle exports were in the region of 170,000 units in 2007, exported mainly to Japan (about 29% of the value of total exports), Australia (20%), the UK (12%) and the US (11%). South Africa also exported ZAR 30.3 billion worth of auto components in 2006.
BMW, Ford, Volkswagen, Daimler-Chrysler, General Motors, Nissan and Toyota all have production plants in South Africa. Large component manufacturers with bases in the country are Arvin Exhaust, Bloxwitch, Corning and Senior Flexonics. There are also about 200 automotive component manufacturers in South Africa, and more than 150 others that supply the industry on a non-exclusive basis. The industry is concentrated in two provinces, the Eastern Cape and Gauteng. Companies producing in South Africa can take advantage of the low production costs and the access to new markets as a result of trade agreements with the European Union and the Southern African Development Community.
After a steep decline of 10.4% in 2009, the manufacturing sector performed well in 2010, growing by 5%, though this rebound was limited to the automotive, basic chemicals, iron and steel and food and beverages industries. The performance of this sector remains curtailed by the low demand in South Africa’s main export markets in the developed world.
Business process outsourcing
Over the last few decades, South Africa and particularly the Cape Town region has established itself as a successful call centre and business process outsourcing destination. With a highly talented pool of productive labour and with Cape Town sharing cultural affinity with Britain, large overseas firms such as Lufthansa, Amazon.com, ASDA, The Carphone Warehouse, Delta Airlines and many more have established inbound call centres within Cape Town as a means of utilising Cape Town’s low labour costs and talented labour force.
South Africa is a popular tourist destination, with around 860,000 arrivals per month (March 2008) of which around 210,000 is from outside the African continent. In 2012 South Africa received 9.2 million international arrivals. In August 2017 3.5 million travellers came to South Africa. According to the World Travel & Tourism Council, travel and tourism directly contributed ZAR102 billion to South African GDP in 2012 and supports 10.3% of jobs in the country. Among the main attractions are the diverse and picturesque landscape, the game reserves and the highly regarded local wines.
South Africa has a sophisticated financial structure with the JSE Securities Exchange, a large and active stock exchange that ranks 18th in the world in terms of total market capitalisation as of March 2009.
The banking industry, overseen by the South African Reserve Bank, is dominated by four local players: Nedbank, ABSA, Standard Bank and First Rand. These banks provide both retail and investment banking services as the sector has become highly competitive with the re-entry of many experienced foreign banks, which returned to the market in the mid-1990s, having left in the late 1980s. Banks operating in South Africa, when left short of liquidity, need to borrow from the SARB at a fluctuating repo rate, which in turn allows the central bank to monitor liquidity positions.
South Africa’s informal sector contributes 8% of the country’s GDP and supports 27% of all working people. The South African Local Economic Development Network values the informal economy at 28% of SA’s GDP. Given the relevance of this input, there is a constant interest in developing actions on an inclusive urban planning for the working poor.