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NC province showed strongest economic growth


Mining was one of the main contributors to the Northern Cape’s strong growth. Agriculture was also a major contributor to the rise

File image: IOL

IN A SURPRISE announcement, Stats SA has confirmed that the Northern Cape was the province in South Africa that showed the strongest economic growth during 2017.

Data published recently by Stats SA provide a portrait of South Africa’s provincial economies.

While South Africa’s smallest province, Gauteng, remains the biggest provincial economy, generating just over a third of South Africa’s gross domestic product (GDP), the Northern Cape’s GDP expanded by 2.8% during 2017, the highest rate of all provinces.

Mining was one of the main contributors to the Northern Cape’s strong growth. Agriculture was also a major contributor to the rise.

The Free State, North West, Limpopo and Mpumalanga also saw growth higher than the national rate due to stronger performance in both agriculture and mining.

Of all the provinces, the Western Cape’s agriculture industry saw the slowest growth in 2017. This was mainly due to the sluggish recovery from drought.

While Gauteng was the province with the highest GDP, KwaZulu-Natal was the second biggest, responsible for R16 of every R100 generated by the national economy.

The Northern Cape, the smallest provincial player, would need to multiply its economic output by 17 in order to square up against Gauteng.

Gauteng’s economic dominance is not surprising. Finance, government, manufacturing, construction and four other industries are heavily represented in the province.

Agriculture and mining are the two exceptions. National agriculture production is mostly concentrated in the Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal. The bulk of national mining activity takes place in the North West, Mpumalanga and Limpopo.

Not only is Gauteng the province with the largest GDP, but it is also the most populous. Gauteng was home to 14.3 million people in 2017, according to data from Stats SA’s Mid-Year Population Estimates report.

The province contributed R1.59 trillion to the country’s GDP of R4.65 trillion (current prices), translating to R111 171 per person. This makes it the top ranking province in terms of GDP per capita, followed by the Western Cape and Free State

The Eastern Cape, on the other hand, was the lowest ranking province. Even if the Eastern Cape were able to double its GDP per capita, it would still be slightly lower than that of Gauteng.

National GDP per capita was estimated at R81 875 in 2017.

Government is the largest industry in the Eastern Cape and Free State, and second in Gauteng and Limpopo. This shows the importance of government as a driver of economic activity. In fact, nationally it is the second biggest industry after finance and business services, contributing 18% to South Africa’s GDP.

Mining is the most important industry in the Northern Cape, North West, Mpumalanga and Limpopo.

Rich deposits of platinum, chromite, gold, uranium and other minerals underpin the industry’s dominance in the North West. Mining contributed 34% to the North West’s GDP in 2017.