Economic conditions. – After the 2009 crisis (−2%), South African GDP returned to grow by 2-3% a year, too little to cope with unemployment: to 21.9% in 2009 and 25.2% in 2014, with 50% of young people aged between 15 and 34 without employment. Unemployment represents one of the most important social and political problems of the South Africa, which also manifests itself in protests, strikes, violent clashes, and with tensions between the various political forces and workers’ movements. Among the causes of unemployment in this country, which has one of the lowest labor participation rates in the world (41%), are the inadequate skills of the workforce, some infrastructure and energy shortages and the aftermath of the international crisis. To deal with this situation, the government has prepared a whole series of measures: an extensive public works program with grants to municipalities for job creation; a national development plan; tax incentive measures for those who hire young people. In the energy sector, then, the government is pursuing the completion of the Medupi coal plant, one of the largest in the world.
In any case, South Africa remains the main economy in Africa, with a GDP of $ 341.2 billion in 2014, although officially surpassed in GDP by Nigeria since 2010. The first sector is represented by the tertiary sector, with 70% of the strength work and 68% of GDP. Services account for 25% of GDP; the financial, insurance and real estate sectors are particularly dynamic. But the South Africa is also among the world leaders for mining management, prospecting, ventilation, security, well excavation services. And the tourism sector also plays a major role, with 9,188,000 admissions (2012); important destinations are, in addition to the main cities, also the national and cross-border parks.
On a commercial level, the country represents an important hub both at the regional scale (being part of the Common monetary area, the Southern African customs union and the Southern African development community) and at the world level (the South Africa is among the BRICS, see).
Miner burns a shirt on a torch
For the mining sector, the country supplies washing spirals, underground locomotives, pumps, hydroelectric equipment; for the automotive industry, especially components (seats and catalytic converters). But the weight of these two sectors also affects other aspects. Mining (10% of GDP, 16% of the workforce), with substantial foreign investments, feeds exports (to China, Japan, Germany, India) for 43% and a large part of manufacturing (aluminum, lead, cast iron) . Relative to 2013, South Africa was the first producer of platinum (140,000 kg) and among the first of: coal (259 million t), with 69% of energy production; uranium (540 t), partly a source of nuclear energy; gold (145,000 kg, 2013); diamonds (2.8 million carats); iron (67 million t). The automotive sector (6% of GDP, 12% of exported manufacturing products) has experienced constant growth in foreign investment by groups such as BMW, Ford, General motors and Toyota. In 2013, the government approved the Automotive Production Development Plan to attract further investment, promote the use of local components and increase the production of passenger cars. Among the industrial productions, on a world level, wine, beer and cotton fabrics are also significant. The primary sector (2-3% of GDP) mainly concerns the crops of maize (11.8 million t), sugar cane (17.2 million t), citrus fruit (5.5 million t), sheep farming (24 million head) and fishing (data for 2012). For South Africa 2011, please check internetsailors.com.
Economic and financial policy. – The economic growth that lasted until the first half of 2008 was the result of a combination of economic policies aimed at controlling inflationary pressure, made more effective by the greater credibility acquired by the central institution. Furthermore, an expansive fiscal policy was adopted with public spending directed towards the infrastructure, education, health, welfare and construction sectors, the promotion of administrative efficiency and the quality of services provided by the State and, by revenue side, the removal of some distortions of the municipal tax system.
Evolution of the main economic aggregates
On the labor market, the South African authorities have put in place various measures aimed at reducing high unemployment, encouraging the flexibility of employment contracts, promoting training and training, supporting the development of typically labor-intensive small and medium-sized enterprises.. Other interventions concerned foreign trade, in particular the simplification of the tariff regime seen in the perspective of a gradual liberalization of foreign trade. During the global economic and financial crisis, the government authorities adopted an expansionary fiscal policy both with an increase in current expenditure, mainly aimed at supporting the increase in public wages in real terms, and with investments in infrastructure. In this period, characterized by the general weakening of economic activity, an anti-inflationary monetary policy was adopted to cope with the internal pressures generated by the volatility of the national currency and the prices of energy products, and by wage indexation. The protraction of the crisis forced the government to postpone fiscal consolidation and to maintain the stimulus to the economy guaranteed by counter-cyclical measures until the first half of the decade. In this period, policies in support of public infrastructures were reinvigorated, in particular for electricity generation, transport and ports, and the process of gradually extending coverage of the health system to the entire population was initiated. The government that took office in 2014 has set a significant change in fiscal policy, paying greater attention to the critical issues of the South African economy, pursuing long-term sustainable growth and launching programs to combat the main social scourges, such as unemployment and poverty. In order to make the fiscal consolidation action more effective, the authorities have expressed their intention to encourage a balanced balance plan between consumption, which until then had been considered the driving force of the national economy, investments and exports. Finally, as regards the financial sector, measures have been implemented to promote the development of a stable and safe market, with the strengthening of micro and macroprudential supervision methods.