Economy and Population

Monday, 12 April 2010 14:22 administrator


For those into useful statistics et al, some information on the economy and population of South Africa follows. For those bored by such weighty stuff (yawn!?), move on!


South Africa is a classic blend of first and third world - of developed and developing - of “north” and “south”. The country is the economic superpower of Africa. It has a mere one twentieth of the total population of the continent, but :

· is responsible for 40% of Africa’s industrial output, and 66% of its steel output

· generates 65% of Africa’s electricity

· produces 45% of the continent’s minerals (it is the world’s biggest producer of gold, platinum, chromium, vanadium and manganese)

· half of the cars in Africa are driven by South Africans

· over one third of the cell phones on the continent ring in South Africa.

On the other hand, it is clear at every turn that South Africa is a country still trying to overcome an historically unbalanced distribution of wealth and ownership. Searing poverty is everywhere; horrific slums are the housing norm for many South Africans; there are too few jobs and services for the rapidly expanding population; educational standards are low, especially among the majority of black South Africans; largely white professionals and skilled workers have deserted the country in droves.

However, on the positive side, these seemingly insurmountable problems are gradually being addressed by government fiscal and economic policy, by labour laws and other legislation. The Redistrubition and Development Programme, at the core of the new government’s economic policy since 1994, has as its primary aim the provision of the most basic essential services to all people. Some progress, if slower than the masses of South Africans would have hoped, has indeed been made : 1.4 million houses have been electrified for the first time; more than 400 000 government-subsidised houses have been built; 2 million people have been given access to piped water for the first time; the inequalities in the education and health systems are being addressed.


The total population of South Africa is 47 million. Of these, blacks of various cultures and languages constitute 36 million; whites of settler descent 7 million; “coloureds” (mixed-descent) 3 million; and people of Indian origin 1 million.

It is a racial and cultural melting-pot. Nobel Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu coined the term ”RAINBOW NATION” which aptly sums up the position. There are 11 official languages in the country; 20 ethnic groups; religious beliefs ranging from monotheism to witchcraft; and cultural manifestations encompassing the ancient rock art of the San people and township mbaquanga and jazz music.


Based on a MARKINOR survey (April 2008)

If South Africa were a village of 100 people, we would look a bit like the following:

Characteristics and behaviour:

• 33 are younger than 16
• 5 older than 65
• 13 would be HIV-positive
• 78 are black; 11 white; 8 coloured and 3 Indian
• 23 have Zulu as their mother tongue; 17 Xhosa; 14 Afrikaans; 10 Tswana; 10 English
• 73 are Christian (52 Protestant or Catholic; 21 ZCC or another independent African church


• 76 homes are electfrified
• 70 have TV
• 68 have potable water in the house or in the yard
• 31 have hot water
• 30 have a car
• 17 have a landline
• 80 own or rent a cellphone (mobile)
• 50 do NOT use banking services
• 41 have a savings account

If the villagers were all adults (over 16):

• 42 are employed
• 26 unemployed and looking for work
• 49 are poor (household income under R2 466,00 monthly)
• 4 earn incomes R300 000,00 or higher annually
• 25 earn R50 000,00 or more annually
• 68 don’t have matric. (i.e. schooling to the end of High School)
• 8 have a tertiary degree
• 39 are married; 9 living together; 7 widowed; 2 divorced / separated; 43 single


• R21,00 in R100,00 on food
• R17,00 in R100,00 on housing and municipal services
• R4,00 on clothing and footwear
• R9,00 on income tax

If the whole village were voters (over 18):

• 63 would vote A.N.C. (the existing government); 13 for the D.A. (the official opposition); 9 for other parties; 15 don’t know or would spoil their ballots
• 45 believe a strong opposition is necessary for survival of democracy
• 72 feel the government promotes gender equality well; 73 feel the government distributes welfare payments effectively (old-age pensions, disability payments & child maintenance)
• 69 feel the government is not doing well in reducing unemployment; 69 say not enough is done to combat crime; 59 feel the same about corruption in government; 54 feel the right people are not appointed in government; 53 feel the government must do more to control the cost of living
• 55 feel the future is bright for the youth
• 77 are fairly confident for a happy future for all citizens

Last Updated on Sunday, 05 February 2012 09:25