Population (2021): 60.7 million
GDP (2021): US$350 billion (S$473 billion)
World Bank “Ease of Doing Business” Rank (2019): 84
Bilateral Trade with Singapore (2021): S$1.48 billion
South Africa is a populous nation of around 55 million. About 40% of its people are aged 25 to 541, making it a young population that is open to various service and retail segments. The country saw a rapid rise in wealth after the ending of apartheid in 1994, and is now the second largest economy in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Due to its rapid economic growth, the country is one of only four states in Africa that have an upper-middle income economy today, with a growing and affluent consumer class.
In 2017, South African consumers spent around S$96 billion on retail alone, or about S$3,000 per second2. The country is also experiencing a growth in e-commerce, and a rise in social media use. The number of South Africans using Facebook has increased by 14% since 2016 to reach 16 million users3. Singapore’s digital companies can find early opportunities in South Africa, where markets are still far from saturation.
1 CIA World Factbook, 2018
2 “The biggest players in South Africa’s retail industry”, Business Tech, 13 May 2018
3 “Social media deepens its hold on SA - all the stats”, fin24tech, 20 September, 2017
South Africa is a financial hub, and financial services companies from Singapore will find it a familiar environment. The Johannesburg Stock Exchange is the 19th largest stock exchange in the world by market capitalisation (about S$1.3 trillion at end 2013), and is the largest in Africa. Over 400 companies are listed on the exchange4.
More recently, South Africa has also established itself as a prime location for Business Process Outsourcing (BPO)7. The country’s well-developed telecommunications network, combined with a predominantly English-speaking populace and high level of education, is transforming it into an ideal call centre location for multinational companies.
4 “JSE Overview”, Johannesburg Stock Exchange website
5 “3 Facts about the ICT sector”, Statistics South Africa, 19 May 2017
6 CIA World Factbook, 2016
7 “South Africa’s Outsourcing Hotspot Trio”, Deloitte, 2016
South Africa has a long-established reputation as a gold and diamond producer. The country has some of the world’s largest natural reserves of chrome ore, gold, manganese, and platinum group metals. Diamonds and other gemstones are also commonly mined in South Africa. South Africa also has large coal reserves, producing in excess of 252 million tonnes in 20178. 92% of the coal consumed on the continent comes from South Africa. This provides numerous opportunities for investors familiar with the energy sector.
8 Minerals Council, South Africa
South Africa’s location provides easy access to 15 other countries in the Southern African Development Community. This provides a total potential market of over 270 million people.
Due to the sophisticated infrastructure of the country, as well as its relatively young and educated workforce, South Africa is the destination of choice for many multinational companies first reaching into Africa.
South Africa also provides a logistical advantage. City Deep, in South Africa’s Gauteng province, is the largest dry port in Africa. It is the main source of freight to several landlocked African states, including Botswana and Zimbabwe. This can provide a convenient hub for businesses that need to move product into other parts of Africa.
Enterprise Singapore has established an overseas centre in Johannesburg to support your business in expanding into Southern Africa.
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