Agriculture Lifts South Africa’s Q4 2021 GDP, Grows Economy by 4.9%

Data on Tuesday showed that South Africa’s economy expanded in the final quarter of last year due to recovery in agriculture and manufacturing, a boost for President Cyril Ramaphosa, who is seeking to ignite growth.

Ramaphosa took office in 2018, promising sweeping reforms. However, he has struggled to implement them, with persistent electricity cuts choking growth among other problems.

According to Statistics South Africa, gross domestic product (GDP) grew by 1.2% quarter on quarter in the last three months of 2021 after contracting by 1.7% in the third quarter.

Following a 6.4% contraction in 2020, the economy grew by 4.9% in 2021, according to the statistics agency.

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The agricultural industry grew by 12.2% quarter over quarter, manufacturing by 2.8% and retail trade by 2.9%. Meanwhile, mining contracted by 3.1%, construction by 2.2%, and finance by 0.8%.

Agriculture recovered following a 20.6% decline in the third quarter, mainly because of an increase in livestock production. In the fourth quarter of 2021, manufacturing recovered after falling by 4.2% in the third quarter.

After the unemployment rate hit a record high of nearly 35% last year, Ramaphosa’s government has been under pressure to take corrective measures after the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted his efforts.

Officials and economists have said that the rate of 2.1% expected for economic growth this year is far below what is needed to make a significant impact on unemployment and poverty.

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On a year-on-year basis, the economy grew 1.7% in the fourth quarter, in line with consensus forecasts. GDP expenditures increased 1.3% quarterly.


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