South Africa

South Africa GDP

South Africa GDP

Economic Growth in South Africa

South Africa's GDP growth from 2013 to 2022 was constrained by structural issues, including high unemployment, violent crime, corruption and electricity supply crises. The COVID-19 pandemic caused a significant contraction in 2020. By 2022, the economy showed signs of recovery, but growth remained tepid by Sub-Saharan African standards

South Africa recorded an average real GDP growth rate of 1.0% in the decade to 2022, below the 3.0% average for Sub-Saharan Africa. In 2022, real GDP growth was 1.9%. For more GDP information, visit our dedicated page.

South Africa GDP Chart

Note: This chart displays Economic Growth (GDP, annual variation in %) for South Africa from 2014 to 2023.
Source: Statistics South Africa.

South Africa GDP Data

2018 2019 2020 2021 2022
Economic Growth (GDP, ann. var. %) 1.6 0.3 -6.0 4.7 1.9
GDP (USD bn) 405 389 338 420 405
GDP (ZAR bn) 5,363 5,625 5,568 6,209 6,629
Economic Growth (Nominal GDP, ann. var. %) 5.6 4.9 -1.0 11.5 6.8

Economy dodges recession in Q4

The South African economy avoided a technical recession by a whisker in the fourth quarter of 2023, when GDP rebounded 0.1% on a seasonally adjusted quarter-on-quarter basis (Q3: -0.2% s.a. qoq). Still, Q4’s upturn missed market expectations. On an annual basis, GDP bounced back, increasing 1.2% in Q4, contrasting the previous period's 0.7% contraction. Accordingly, the economy rose 0.6% overall in 2023, which was in line with the National Treasury’s expectations. However, 2023’s result was notably below last year’s 1.9% growth.

The quarterly rebound chiefly reflected household spending returning to growth, rising 0.2% seasonally adjusted quarter on quarter in the fourth quarter (Q3: -0.2% s.a. qoq), which marked the best reading since Q1. Moreover, fixed investment slid at a milder pace of 0.2% in Q4 from the 3.8% contraction recorded in the previous quarter. That said, government consumption dropped at the sharpest pace since Q3 2023, contracting 0.3% (Q3: +0.5% s.a. qoq). On the external front, exports of goods and services were unchanged at Q3’s 0.6% increase. Conversely, imports of goods and services rebounded, growing 4.0% in Q4 (Q3: -8.7% s.a. qoq).

Our Consensus is for sequential GDP growth to pick up steam in Q1 2024, partly on a low base of comparison. Overall in 2024, our panelists expect the most industrialized economy in Sub-Saharan Africa to roughly double its 2023 GDP expansion. That said, the heavyweight will still post the slowest growth rate in the region. Key elements that will continue to hold the economy back include the port, rail and crippling power supply crises.

Reflecting on 2023’s overall result, analysts at the EIU explained: “Growth would been closer to 1% in 2023 if not for a sharp contraction in agriculture, which shrank by 12.2%, aggravated by the damaging impact of bird flu on the poultry sector. More generally, serious power shortages and freight transport bottlenecks affected most sectors, especially industry.”

Consensus Forecasts and Projections for the next ten years

How should you choose a forecaster if some are too optimistic while others are too pessimistic? FocusEconomics collects South African GDP projections for the next ten years from a panel of 30 analysts at the leading national, regional and global forecast institutions. These projections are then validated by our in-house team of economists and data analysts and averaged to provide one Consensus Forecast you can rely on for each indicator. By averaging all forecasts, upside and downside forecasting errors tend to cancel each other out, leading to the most reliable GDP forecast available for South African GDP.

Download one of our sample reports to visualize what a Consensus Forecast is and see our South African GDP projections.

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