South Africa

South Africa GDP Q1 2022

South Africa: GDP growth records quickest upturn since Q4 2020 in Q1

In the first quarter of the year, the South African economy returned to its pre-pandemic level. GDP growth improved to 1.9% on a seasonally-adjusted quarter-on-quarter basis in the first quarter, from 1.4% in the fourth quarter of last year. Q1’s result marked the best growth reading since Q4 2020, and was chiefly driven by household spending and exports.

Private consumption increased 1.4% in the first quarter, which was below the fourth quarter’s 3.0% expansion. Public consumption sped up to 1.0% in Q1 (Q4 2021: +0.2% s.a. qoq). Fixed investment growth sped up to 3.6% in Q1, from the 1.6% growth logged in the prior quarter.

On the external front, exports of goods and services growth softened to 3.9% in Q1 (Q4 2021: +8.3% s.a. qoq). In addition, imports of goods and services growth moderated to 4.9% in Q1 (Q4 2021: +8.4% s.a. qoq). All said, the external sector deducted 0.2 percentage points from the headline reading.

On an annual basis, economic growth gathered momentum, rising to 3.0% in Q1, compared to the previous period’s 1.7% expansion. Q1’s reading marked the fastest growth since Q2 2021.

Looking ahead, the economy is likely to have taken a hit in the second quarter amid from the destructive April floods in KwaZulu-Natal. The floods are expected to have weighed on private-sector activity as well as household spending in the period as a whole; some damaged infrastructure will not be fully operational again until the end of the third quarter. Furthermore, a lingering risk of power shortages creates additional hurdles.

Analysts at the EIU added:

“After [a] solid to start to 2022 we expect real GDP to contract on a quarter-on-quarter seasonally adjusted basis in April–June, and to remain fragile in July–September, given a higher risk of load-shedding in winter and lingering disruption from April’s floods. South Africa will move closer to its potential growth rate in 2023–2026, provided that structural reforms unlock private investment and jobs.”

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