South Africa’s economy grew by 1,3% in 2015, down from 1,5% in 2014 and 2,2% in 2013, according to preliminary estimates of real gross domestic product (GDP) published by Stats SA. Overall economic growth in 2015 was characterised by two of the main industry groups shrinking in size, while the other eight experienced some growth.

gdp SA 2015

The main contributor to the slowdown in 2015 was agriculture1. Severe drought conditions saw the industry contracting by 8,4%, 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%.

Growth in manufacturing was almost flat in 2015, with the industry expanding marginally by 0,1%.

Growth figures of less than 2% were recorded for government (+0,9%), personal services (+1,1%), transport2 (+1,4%), trade3 (+1,4%) and construction (+1,9%).

The finance4 industry expanded by 2,8%. 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% annual rise in GDP.

The mining industry recorded the highest growth of all ten industries, expanding by 3,0%. 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% in 2015 compared with 20145. Of the four major minerals (i.e. PGMs, iron ore, gold and coal), the PGM group was the only one to record a production increase in 2015.

GDP is widely used to measure the size of an economy and its performance over time. In 2015 South Africa’s GDP was almost R4 trillion (that’s 12 zeros).