JOHANNESBURG, March 1 (Xinhua) — South Africa’s economy grew by 1.3 percent in 2015, down from 1.5 percent in 2014 and 2.2 percent in 2013, according to the preliminary estimates of real gross domestic product (GDP) published by the Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) on Tuesday.


Overall economic growth in 2015 was characterized by two of the main industry groups shrinking in size, while the other eight experienced some growth, said Stats SA.

The main factor of the slowdown in 2015 was agriculture. Severe drought conditions saw the industry contracting by 8.4 percent, the largest annual fall in agriculture production since 1995. The decrease in 2015 was mainly due to a sharp drop in the production of field crops.

The electricity, gas and water supply industry also shrank in size, contracting by 1.0 percent.

Growth in manufacturing was almost flat in 2015, with the industry expanding marginally by 0.1 percent.

Growth figures of less than two percent were recorded for government (+0.9 percent), personal services (+1.1 percent), transport (+1.4 percent), trade (+1.4 percent) and construction (+1.9 percent).

The finance industry expanded by 2.8 percent. As this is the largest industry, comprising 21% of the entire economy, its increase in activity was the main positive contributor to the 1.3 percent annual rise in GDP.

The mining industry recorded the highest growth of all 10 industries, expanding by 3.0 percent. The increase was mainly a result of increased platinum group metal (PGM) production.

The low base created in 2014 by the PGM miners’ strike saw PGM production rising by 46.2 percent in 2015 compared with 2014.

GDP is widely used to measure the size of an economy and its performance over time. In 2015, South Africa’s GDP was almost four trillion rand (about 256.4 billion U.S. dollars).