South Africa Avoids Recession with Surprise Second Quarter Economic Growth

PRETORIA – South African GDP grew more than expected in the second quarter thanks to a recovery in mining and manufacturing, official data showed on Tuesday, in a boost to President Cyril Ramaphosa’s efforts to revive a troubled economy.

A worker cuts steel at the Southern African Shipyards where a tug for the state owned enterprise Portnet is under construction in Durban, South Africa, March 29, 2018. REUTERS/Rogan Ward

Growth in the three months to June was 3.1%, after a revised contraction of 3.1% in the first quarter, Statistics South Africa said. Economists polled by Reuters had predicted an expansion of 2.4% for the quarter.

The second-quarter growth was the highest since the fourth quarter of 2017. Year-on year GDP growth was 0.9% compared with zero previously.

The data showed mining output grew by 14.4% in the second quarter, after declining by 10.8% previously. Manufacturing output rose 2.1%, rebounding after declining 8.8% in the first quarter.


“There was a strong rebound in iron prices in the months leading to this quarter … and remember with mining in the first quarter there were challenges with electricity supply and those have eased a bit,” said Mike Manamela, chief director for national accounts at the statistics office.

Growth in Africa’s most industrialised economy hinges heavily on saving state power firm Eskom, which is drowning in debt and at the beginning of the year implemented nationwide power outages that triggered a slowdown across most sectors in the first quarter.

South Africa’s growth numbers came just after data showed that year-on-year growth in Nigeria, Africa’s biggest economy, slowed to 1.94% in the three months to the end of June.

(Reporting by Mfuneko Toyana; Writing by Olivia Kumwenda-Mtambo; Editing by John Stonestreet and Andrew Cawthorne)