SA fast facts



Some ‘good news’ facts in amongst the bad

  1. The number of confirmed Covid-19 cases fell to zero on 17 July from 10 017 on 11 May and the peak of 37 875 on 12 December 2020.
  2. Mineral sales rose by 17,6% y/y in May to a record R89,1bn.
  3. Real retail trade sales rose by only 0,1% y/y in May after a revised 4,3% (3,4%) y/y gain in April.
  4. Nominal motor trade sales jumped by 16,0% y/y in May after a 11,4% y/y gain in April and a 20,6% increase in 2021.
  5. The number of full containers exported surged by 34,1% m/m in June.
  6. Bulk exports soared by 62,4% m/m in June after falling by 17,5% m/m in May.
  7. Tractor sales rose by 26,4% y/y in June after surging by 35,7% y/y in May
  8. International air arrivals rose by 209,4% y/y in June to 254 175.

“Source: Helmo Preuss”


S.A. FAST FACTS – 2025 Update

by Steuart Pennington

Every year we update S.A Fast Facts in the following categories:
Steuart Pennington - SA Fast Facts - sa-good-news


Our major source of information is the Annual Global Competitiveness Report, the Economist Pocket Book and

In the most recent 2019 GCR Report South Africa ranks as the 60th MOST COMPETITIVE out of 140 countries, an improvement of 7 places over 2018 where we were placed 67th out of 144 countries. Source: WEF Global Competitiveness Report.

NOTE: There are 205 countries globally, but only 140 have sufficient information for data to be collected and compiled.

The Global Competitiveness report compares 12 ‘pillars’ of competitiveness using 120 measures (see Section 14)

We try an update these figures every year, unfortunately the Global Competitiveness Report and the Economist Pocket World in Figures have not been published over the past two years (COVID), is posted daily.

Many of our other sources are irregular, some only every five years.

We invite you our readers to contribute, either to correct the figures we have, or to add others that we don’t have!

1. Political

South Africa is the 24th largest country geographically, has the 25th largest population, the 33rd largest economy by GDP, the 30th largest by purchasing power parity (PPP) and ranks 19th in terms of foreign debt (Economist Pocket World 2020 – comparing 190 countries).

Military: Nuclear arsenals: There are 9 countries which are widely understood to have a stockpile of deployable nuclear weapons, they are: the USA, Russia, the United Kingdom, France, China, Israel, India, Pakistan and North Korea. The USA and Russia have comparable stockpiles, owning between them over 90% of the world’s nuclear weapons.

Election Watch: The ANC has 980 000 members in good standing. These are divided into 3 800 branches (branches with 100-249 members get one delegate to the National Elective Conference) However, in each branch, for every additional 250 members another delegate may be appointed. It is estimated that there will be 4731 delegates attending the NEC. The winning candidate needs to secure 2 800 delegate votes. (Source: Sunday Times Oct 29)

According to the Open Budget Index 2019, South Africa has the most transparent budget in the world (1st) behind New Zealand and Sweden.
South Africa is the only African country that is a member of the G20.

Voting Beyond Borders

This past weekend, votes were cast by approximately 78,000 South Africans living overseas. In contrast, only 19,882 South Africans abroad voted in the 2019 general elections.

Sources: onetwo

SA VOTING POPULATION: 1/3 decides for the rest.

48 000  000 adult citizens over the age of 18
27 672 264 registered to vote or 57% of the adult population
16 227 015 actually voted = 58.64% of the registered voters, but 33.8% of the total adult population

Economic Freedom - SA Fast Facts - sa-good-news

The 2021 Economic Freedom of the World report ranks SA at 112th. There are 87 “free” countries, 59 ‘partially free’ and 49 ‘not free’


Annually, Reporters without Borders ranks 180 countries on Press freedom as ranked by Journalists worldwide

The table below gives the positions of South Africa, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, Hong Kong, USA, and China in terms of their positioning on the World Press Freedom Index











We invite you to place the countries in the box that reflects their global ranking.

The answers using Roman Numerals: United Kingdom (XXVI), Hong Kong (CXXXX), Australia (XXVII), South Africa (XXV), USA (XXXXV), China (CLXXIX), Canada (XV)


Rights Leaderboard

In 2023, South Africa was ranked 48th best globally, out of 142 countries, for the adherence to fundamental rights by the World Justice Project’s Rule of Law Index. The Scandinavian countries—Denmark, Norway, Finland, and Sweden—occupied the top four spots.

Source: one

2. Economic

Public ‘service’ cost

The public sector wage bill accounted for over 35.4% of total government expenditure in the fiscal year 2018/2019 according to the SA Treasury. (In the UK the figure is 39%, Australia 35%, NZ 41%) Public sector wage expenditure has grown faster than any other budgetary category since 2006/07, except for payments for financial assets. Over 12% of the GDP is directed to the wage bill of the state alone, according to the OECD’s 2020 economic survey of South Africa Source: FMF

It’s not all Skynet

7% of middle income earners in South Africa are afraid of the rise of artificial intelligence (AI). The world economic forum estimated that AI could replace 85 million jobs globally by 2025, while simultaneously creating 97 million new jobs.


SA’s Economic Freedom Index – Not such good news!

SA’s Economic Freedom Index fell to 99/165 countries, that means 98 countries have greater economic freedoms then we do and 66 have less. In 2000 we ranked 52nd. Of the five major measures:

  • Size of Govt: 117/165, of particular note is governments misperception that greater control leads to prosperity, witness the move to NHI, BIG, the ‘Social Wage’, SOE demise etc
  • Legal System and property rights: 56/165. Thank goodness this measure remains fairly good although all the blabber about expropriation without compensation doesn’t help
  • Sound Money: 101/165 most countries suffered here largely as a result of Covid and the printing of money with inflation on the rise in most developed economies
  • Open Economy and International Trade:123/165 our trading infrastructure, ports, rail, airways are in disarray
  • Regulation: 104/165 in particular our one-sided Labour relations legislation counts against us

We rank alongside Tanzania, Morocco, Columbia, but are the same or just ahead of our BRICS counterparts.

This year 146 countries recorded a drop in ‘Freedom







PMI Improves

The S&P Global South Africa Purchasing Managers’ IndexTM (PMI®) rose to a 14-month high of 52.7 in July, up slightly from 52.5 in June, to signal a solid improvement in the health of the private sector economy. Business conditions have now strengthened for seven consecutive months.

Some ‘good news’ facts in amongst the bad

  1. The number of confirmed Covid-19 cases fell to zero on 17 July from 10 017 on 11 May and the peak of 37 875 on 12 December 2020.
  2. Mineral sales rose by 17,6% y/y in May to a record R89,1bn.
  3. Real retail trade sales rose by only 0,1% y/y in May after a revised 4,3% (3,4%) y/y gain in April.
  4. Nominal motor trade sales jumped by 16,0% y/y in May after a 11,4% y/y gain in April and a 20,6% increase in 2021.
  5. The number of full containers exported surged by 34,1% m/m in June.
  6. Bulk exports soared by 62,4% m/m in June after falling by 17,5% m/m in May.
  7. Tractor sales rose by 26,4% y/y in June after surging by 35,7% y/y in May
  8. International air arrivals rose by 209,4% y/y in June to 254 175.


The Role of SME’s, bigger than you think!
SMEs are the lifeblood of any economy. In SA they contribute more than 40% of total GDP and account for nearly 90% of all employment.

No Power to the People: In 2020, rolling outages in South Africa contributed to 2.3% of the decline in GDP; a loss of R75bn, and 450,000 jobs. In 2021 infrastructural uncertainty meant that the country could only produce 65% of its maximum energy generation capability; causing severe disruptions to the national power supply. This resulted in 560 hours of “load-shedding” in the first half of 2021.

Agricultural exports set to reach record levels
High global demand and elevated prices bode well for SA exports
05 September 2021 – The stage is set for another record export year for agricultural products. International demand remains high and prices for our major export products continue to be at elevated levels. The year started off on a high note when South Africa recorded an agricultural trade surplus of $1.5 billion and the second largest export earnings on record of $10.2bn in the first quarter.
Big Ticket Programmes: The total consolidated spending on South Africa’s 2021/22 budget amounts to R2 trillion each year over the medium term. The bulk of the spending is allocated to learning and culture (R402.9 billion), social development (R335.2 billion) and health (R248.8 billion) in 2021/22
Biggest Provincial Loser? South Africa has lost a total of 1.4m jobs since 2019Q4, an 8.5% decrease YoY. About 65% of those jobs losses occurred in Gauteng (528k), KwaZulu-Natal (210k), and the Western Cape (180k). Gauteng and the Eastern Cape had the worst YoY change in employment with each province losing roughly 10.5% since 2019Q4.
Occupations in Trouble; According to the 2020:Q4 Quarterly Labour Force Survey, the absolute number of people employed increased by 333k compared to Q3 (+2.3% QoQ) with “Professional” being the only occupation to shrink, -66k (-6.5% QoQ). However, year-on-year, there has been a decline in employment of -1.4m (-8.5%) with Elementary (-369k), Sales and Services (-262k), and Craft and Related Trade (-247k) as the three occupations that have had the most severe job losses.
2021 Concerns: The South African economy is expected to contract by almost 8% YoY. Real GDP growth forecasts for 2021 range from 2.3% to 3.8%. Blocks to 2021 growth include energy supply challenges, the delayed Covid-19 vaccine roll-out, and unresolved fiscal issues.
The global inflation rate is currently around 3.6%, according to the International Monetary Fund, which incidentally is exactly the same as for SA, announced recently by StatsSA

The Vacation Scale: In Brazil and France employees are entitled to 30 days of annual leave, compared to 5 in China. In the private sector in the USA employees get on average 16 days paid leave, despite not being required by law. Economist John Schmitt found that “paid vacation and holidays don’t appear to have any meaningful impact on [a country’s] macroeconomic outcomes.”
South African National Parks was formed in 1926 and currently manages 19 parks with more than 3.7m hectares, roughly 3% of the nation’s land area. The Kruger National Park takes up half (52%) of this park area. In 2016 SANParks employed about 4,000 permanent and 1,400 temporary workers, and has an annual expenditure of R1.8bn.
Debt by sector: People working in the South African agricultural sector use a higher percentage of their income to pay off debts than people working in other formal sectors. Over the last 3 years the average percentage of income they have been using to pay off debts has averaged between 60% and 70% of income.
Source: Eighty-20 Fact a Day
Government Debt as a % of GDP; SA’s debt to GDP is projected at 70% for 2021, which ranks SA at 20th globally. Japan at 226% is ranked 1st, UK at 115% is 7th, USA at 106% is 9th, Australia at 42% is 29th. SA’s debt to GDP in 2005 was 42%.
The Economist records the JSE the 19th largest Bourse globally at US$865b. NYSE # 1 at $20 679b; Japan 3rd at $5 297b; London SE 7th at $3 638b; Australia 16th at $1 236b
SA’s Services Output ranks 33rd at US$215 billion; USA 1st at $14,400b; China 2nd at $6,300b; Japan 3rd at $3,400b, UK 5th at $1,860b.
SA Agricultural output ranked at 33rd at US$21 billion, China 1st at $969b; India 2nd at $414b; ; USA 3rd at $189b.

SA Gold production ranked 7th largest at 137 tonnes; China 1st at 420; Australia 2nd at 292; Russia 3rd at 270; USA 4th at 236.
SA Platinum production ranked 1st at 143 tonnes; Russia 2nd at 21; Zimbabwe 3rd at 14.Source:Economist
Domestic inflation: In South Africa, the highest inflation rate to date was recorded in January 1986, at 20.7%. That year the average inflation rate was 18.7%. South Africa’s average inflation during the global credit crunch in 2008, was 11.5%. In June 2022, the latest official monthly inflation rate was 6%.
On the move: According to Statistics South Africa’s latest mid-year population estimates report, South Africa is estimated to receive a net immigration of 1.02 million people between 2016 and 2021. The majority of international migrants are estimated to settle in Gauteng (48%), followed by the Western Cape (12%) and Limpopo (11%), while the least will settle in the Northern Cape (1%).
Growth spurts: Harvard’s Center for International Development (CID) predicts that the three fastest growing economies until 2026 will be India, Uganda, and Egypt, growing at 7.89%, 7.46%, and 6.63% respectively. In contrast, South Africa is projected to grow at 4.9% annually until 2026, despite current projections of less than 1% growth in 2018.
Back to school: Dress code: A survey of three school uniform suppliers found that the cost of a generic school uniform (not school specific items) would cost between R300 and R863. For schools that require school specific items (branded items sold only at specific suppliers), a full uniform would cost approximately R1,600. If sportswear is required this will cost an additional R1,300 (excluding sports shoes)
Trade and Industry: Wine time: South Africa is the seventh largest wine producer in the world, producing 3.9% of the world’s wine. In 2016, South Africa produced 898.4 million litres of wine, of which two thirds was white wine and one third was red wine.
The Economist Pocket World in Figures (2020) ranks South Africa 22nd out of 190 countries in terms of Cinema Attendance with 20.9 million ‘visits’ per annum. India is # 1 with 1,950 million visits per annum followed by China with 1,700 and the USA with 1,300 million visits per annum. Iceland has the most ‘visits’ per person @ 4.3.
Elite: The Africa Wealth Report includes data on high net worth individuals (HNWIs), defined as individuals with net assets of US$1 million or more. In 2019, South Africa was home to the most HNWIs on the continent, at an estimated 40,400 individuals. This is followed by Egypt (around 18,100 HNWIs) and Nigeria (around 12,300 HNWIs).
Givers: According to the OECD, in 2015 the US contributed more than $30 billion in foreign aid, this was followed by Germany which contributed more than $20 billion and the UK which contributed just under $20 billion. However as a percentage of gross national income (GNI), Sweden was the largest foreign aid contributor (1.4% of GNI) followed by the UAE (1.1%) and Norway (1.05%).
In the Economist BIG MAC Index of 2022, a measure of the extent to which currencies are under-valued, SA ranks 3rd (most undervalued) with a 55.5% under evaluation against the US$
Ease of doing business: SA is currently ranked 82nd out of 190 countries. SA was ranked 72 among 189 countries in the 2016 World Bank’s Doing Business Report and 74 out of 190 countries in the 2017 report. 21% of employed people in South Africa are members of a trade union. For the mining and quarrying industries, the percentage is 80%, the highest of all industries.
South African Tax Revenue has increased from R100 billion in 1994 to R1,9 trillion in 2022. South Africa is ranked 19th in respect of foreign debt at 176 US $ Billion, China 1st at !710 US$ Billion
South Africa not ranked in the top 30 countries in terms of household debt as a percentage of disposable income. Denmark 1st at 281%, Australia 4th at 216%UK 11th at 148%.(Economist 2020)
South Africa’s debt to GDP ratio 2020 is 70% (USA 100%, Japan 200%, UK 90%). The World Bank recommends a ratio of 60%.
The South African stock market is ranked 3rd in terms of regulation in the 2019 Global Competitiveness Report.
SA ranks 32nd out of 165 countries in terms of the size of its US$ reserves, ahead of Australia, Sweden and Chile. The Euro Area ranks 1st, USA ranks 2nd, the UK 17th, (Economist 2020)
In a survey of 192 countries, South Africa’s unemployment as a percentage of economically active population ranked 27th.
SA ranks 27th in terms of number of cars produced and 36th in terms of number of cars sold. (Economist 2020).
SA ranks 36th in terms of industrial output and 33rd in terms of services output (Economist 2020).
South Africa ranks 37th out of 192 countries in the Economist’s “Biggest Exporters” Index.(2020).
South Africa ranks 60th in a comparison of tax as a % of GDP of 150 countries worldwide.
South Africa ranks in the top 20 countries for agricultural output.
The sum of investments in SA over the past 20 years has increased by an impressive 86%, but has tailed off dramatically over past three years. This figure allows for the eroding impact of inflation.


South Africa’s new vehicle market shows resilience in the face of economic constraints

Johannesburg, 1 March 2023: Despite odds seemingly skewed against the South African consumer, new vehicle sales continued improvement in performance month after month, and again in February. Total vehicle sales of 45 352 units were 2.6% better than the figure for the same month a year ago. Year-to-date sales are up 4.3% which is encouraging.

Economist Global Measures

Annually the Economist publishes ‘Pocket World in Figures’ ranking 188 countries on a range of measures; some surprising; some unusual; some depressing; some amusing! As Hans Rosling in his book “Factfullness” reminds us; what we often assume to be correct we often get very wrong! “Forming your worldview by relying on the media would be like forming your view about me by looking only at a picture of my foot.” 

In this series I will ask four questions with three possible answers, comparing SA to 188 countries.

  1. Geographically SA is the a) 24th largest; b) 36th largest c) 69th largest globally
  2. SA’s population is the a) 12th largest; b) 24th largest; c) 48th largest globally
  3. SA’s population growth is a) 10th fastest; b) 40th fastest; c) 60th fastest globally
  4. SA’s population grew 2022/2021 by a) 2.24%; b) 1.28%; c) 0.88%

Answers: 1) a); 2) b); 3) c); 4) c) 😊


Economist Global Measures (Guess the Answers!)

Week 17 April (Economic measures)

Annually the Economist publishes ‘Pocket World in Figures’ ranking 188 countries on a range of measures; some surprising; some unusual; some depressing; some amusing!

Here are four questions with three possible answers, comparing SA to 188 countries.

  1. SA’s economy, as measured by GDP is the a) 38th largest; b) 56th largest c) 108th  largest globally
  2. SA’s economy, as measured by PPP (Purchasing Power Parity) is the a) 23rd largest; b) 33rd largest; c) 53rd largest globally
  3. SA’s GDP per Capita is a) US$ 2055; b) US$ 5055; c) US$ 7055 per capita
  4. SA’s Corporate Tax rate is a) 12th; b) 26th; c) 45th highest as a %

Answers: 1) a); 2) b); 3) c); 4) c) 😊


Economist Global Measures (Guess the Answers!)

Week 24 April (Economic measures)

Annually the Economist publishes ‘Pocket World in Figures’ ranking 188 countries on a range of measures; some surprising; some unusual; some depressing; some amusing!

Here are four questions with three possible answers, comparing SA to 188 countries.

  1. SA’s economic growth is ranked a) 125th  lowest; b) 145th lowest c) 185th lowest 2009-2019 globally
  2. SA’s debt to GDP ratio at 70% is a) 18th largest; b) 28th largest; c) 48th largest globally
  3. SA’s Gold Reserves in US$ rank a) 15th largest; b) 25th largest c) 35th largest globally
  4. SA’s Big Mac Index representing over/under value of the Rand currency against US$ at a) -24%; b) -34%; c) -54%

Answers: 1) b); 2) c); 3) c); 4) c) 😊


Economist Global Measures (Guess the Answers!)

Week 1 May (Commodities)

Annually the Economist publishes ‘Pocket World in Figures’ ranking 188 countries on a range of measures; some surprising; some unusual; some depressing; some amusing!

Here are four questions with three possible answers, comparing SA to 188 countries.

  1. SA’s production of Orange Juice is ranked) 5th  largest; b) 15th largest c) 25th largest globally
  2. SA’s production of Gold is ranked) 5th largest; b) 10th largest; c) 15th largest globally
  3. SA’s production of Platinum is ranked a) 1st largest; b) 5th largest c) 15th largest globally
  4. SA’s production of Coal is ranked a) 7th largest b) 12th largest c) 17th largest globally

Answers: 1) a); 2) b); 3) a); 4) a) 😊


Economist Global Measures (Guess the Answers!)

Week 8 May (Social measures)

Annually the Economist publishes ‘Pocket World in Figures’ ranking 188 countries on a range of measures; some surprising; some unusual; some depressing; some amusing!

Here are four questions with three possible answers, comparing SA to 188 countries.

  1. SA’s ‘Media Freedom’ is ranked a) 25th ‘Freest; b) 45th Freest; c) 85th Freest globally
  2. SA’s divorce rate is a) 17% ; b) 27%; c) 47% of the married population
  3. SA’s Prison population is the a) 6th largest; b) 12th largest; c) 18th largest globally
  4. SA’s urban population living in shanty towns is ranked a) 24th highest; b) 54th highest; c) 74th highest globally

Answers: 1) a); 2) a); 3) b); 4) c) 😊


Economist Global Measures (Guess the Answers!)

Week 15 May (Leisure)

Annually the Economist publishes ‘Pocket World in Figures’ ranking 188 countries on a range of measures; some surprising; some unusual; some depressing; some amusing!

Here are four questions with three possible answers, comparing SA to 188 countries.

  1. SA’s Cinema attendance in total visits is ranked a) 10th ; b) 25th; c) 45th globally;
  2. SA’s beer consumption, litres per person is ranked a) 1st  ; b) 20th ; c) 30th globally
  3. SA’s tobacco use is ranked a) 5th ; b) 12th ; c) 20th globally
  4. SA’s Cannabis use is a) 15%; b) 7.5% ; c) 3.5% of the population

Answers: 1) b); 2) c); 3) c); 4) c) 😊


Economist Global Measures (Guess the Answers!)

Week 22 May (Tourism)

Annually the Economist publishes ‘Pocket World in Figures’ ranking 188 countries on a range of measures; some surprising; some unusual; some depressing; some amusing!

Here are four questions with three possible answers, comparing SA to 188 countries.

  1. SA’s tourist arrivals are ranked a) 18th ; b) 28th; c) 38th largest globally;
  2. SA’s tourism growth is predicted at a) 2.6%  ; b) 4.6% ; c) 7.6% annually for the next 10 years;
  3. SA’s tourism receipts are ranked a) 5th ; b) 10th ; c) 15th largest in Africa;
  4. Pre-COVID how many people visited SA annually a) 10m; b) 12.5m ; c) 17m?

Answers: 1) c); 2) c); 3) a); 4) c)😊


Economist Global Measures – Interesting Comparisons

Annually the Economist publishes ‘Pocket World in Figures’ ranking 188 countries on a range of measures; some surprising; some unusual; some depressing; some amusing!

Here are four comparisons of Global Positionings that may surprise you

Hong Kong
Population Size 24th 21st 3rd 55th 6th 39th 15th 2nd 11th 104th 7th
Largest foreign born populations 21st 5th 1st 9th 45th 8th 150th 14th 24th 21st 42nd
Biggest economies (GDP) 38th 6th 1st 13th 9th 10th 46th 5th 3rd 36th 27th
Biggest economies by Purchasing Power (PPP) 33rd 9th 2nd 18th 10th 16th 30th 3rd 4th 46th 23rd


Economist Global Measures – Interesting Comparisons


Annually the Economist publishes ‘Pocket World in Figures’ ranking 188 countries on a range of measures; some surprising; some unusual; some depressing; some amusing!

Here are four comparisons of Global Positionings that may surprise you

Individual tax rates, top marginal rate


































Corporate tax, net effective rate


































Biggest deficits/surpluses US$ billion (2019) – 10.6 – 87.5 -480.2

+ 8.3

+ 102.9

+ 49.1

– 44.9

– 29.7

+ 176.8

– 1.5

+ .92

Big Mac Index, local currency under/over valuation against US $

– 55%

– 21% 0

– 12%

– 39%

+ 30%

– 8%

– 53%

– 33%

+ 4%



Countries with the highest number of US$ millionaires leaving

As it has for the past decade, China continues to lose the largest numbers of dollar millionaires each year to migration.

Net exit number 2023;

1st China 13 500; 2nd India 6500; 3rd UK 3200; 4th Russia 3000; 5th Brazil 1200; 6th Hong Kong 1000; 7th South Korea 800; 8th Mexico 700; 9th South Africa 500; 10th Japan 300

Source Henley Private Wealth Migration Report 2023



The top three wealthiest individuals have as much wealth as the 160 million poorest people in the US. Globally, the richest two thousand people have more wealth than the poorest 4.6 billion and the 22 wealthiest men have more wealth than all the women in Africa.

In the UK, 90 per cent of workers have seen their incomes flatline for the past three decades. Whereas the elite or 0.01% of British citizens saw their incomes increase by 277% over the same period.

The fortunes of the world’s richest 500 people grew 25% in 2019. The combined wealth of these billionaires in 2019 was $8.7 trillion, which is equivalent to the total income of the poorest 150 countries.

Inequality is not a remote or abstract threat. It is a real and present danger. It must be reduced if we are to prioritize the well-being of people and our planet.



GG. Alcock in his book ‘Kasinomics Revolution’ and the reprint of ‘Born White Zulu Bred’ has a glimpse into our informal economy (Kasi the colloquial name for a township)

“Growth is happening in SA, we just don’t know where to look”


Type of business


Est. Business Revenue

Spaza Shops

150 000


Kasi Kos

(Fast Food)

50 000




45 000


Kasi Stayela

(Hair Salons)

60 000


Traditional medicine

10 000



250 000


Kasi Mechanics

80 000


Informal business rentals



Backyard Rentals




These figures obviously don’t include all Kasi activities eg; building yards, hardware stores, internet services, leather workers, furniture stores etc.

GG estimates real unemployment (people with no source of income) to be 15%


According to International Finance Corporation (IFC), South Africa’s micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs):

  • constitute more than 90% of all FORMAL business in the country,
  • employ 50-60% of the workforce
  • contribute 34% of GDP.

(See previous Fast Fact for what is happening in the INFORMAL sector)


New research has revealed the countries with the largest uptake of electric vehicles, with South Africa’s increasing by 127% in the past year. 

The study, conducted by Electric Vehicle experts at DriveElectric, looked at EV sales year-on-year to determine the countries that have seen the biggest increase in electric vehicle sales.

The full study is available here:



Rory O’Hagan, principal of the Chas Everitt Hyde Park and Sandton office, has highlighted South African expats are returning, especially to the nation’s economic hub.

“A very large percentage are actually buying homes in Gauteng, and in the northern suburbs of Johannesburg in particular,” said O’Hagan.

“We receive enquiries daily from South Africans of all ages who have been living and working abroad, sometimes for many years, but are now returning to Johannesburg to take up new corporate jobs or to establish new businesses.”

“Most are highly skilled individuals with years of experience, which is a benefit to SA,” O’Hagan said.

Some of the reasons for coming back include:

  • Being tired of unpleasant weather and worried about natural disasters,
  • Missing family and friends,
  • Fears about the fallout from the Ukraine and Middle East conflicts
  • The high and rising cost of living in Europe, the UK and the US, and
  • The realisation that they can purchase a much better property in SA with euros, pounds or dollars than in the adopted countries.



Driven by India

In 2023, 42% of passenger cars sold in South Africa were imported from India, highlighting India’s significant influence in the market. India’s presence in the South African motor industry is notably robust, particularly dominating the lower end, with 75% of car models priced under R300,000 originating from India.

Source: one



In SA we have 150 000 registered NGO’s, the great majority of which do sterling work where government services are lacking.

  • Corporates contribute +/- R12 billion annually to CSI initiatives
  • Citizens contribute +/- R16 billion annually to charitable causes
  • Corporate assisted volunteering is widely practiced with literally millions of volunteers being allowed to make a difference during the work week to causes close to their heart
  • SA ranked in the Top 20 ‘Giving’ societies globally

Global Wealth Growth Rate Almost Halved to Only 4.5% in the Past Decade

Global economic uncertainty, inflation, rising interest rates, trade issues, stock market fluctuation, demographic shifts, and technological changes have all had a major impact on global wealth growth, significantly slowing it down in the past decade compared to the one before.

According to data presented by, the global wealth growth rate has practically halved in the past decade, falling to only 4.5%.

Only the United States and Hong Kong Beat the Negative Trend with a 2% and 1% Higher Wealth Growth

According to the UBS 2024 Global Wealth Report, global wealth growth has significantly cooled compared to the previous decade. Between 2000 and 2010, the average annual growth was 7%. However, this figure has plunged to only 4% from 2010 onwards. Although wealth growth is far from uniform, most surveyed countries saw a similar decline.

3. Business

The International Finance Corporation says in SA small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs) constitute more than 90% of all formal business in the country. They also employ 50-60% of the workforce and contribute 34% of GDP.

The Champion of Beers

The Eighty20 Data Portal shows that approximately 8.3m South African adults (6m men and 2.3m women) have consumed beer in the last week. 19% had a Carling Black Label, making it the most popular beer in South Africa, while Castle Lite came in second with 14%.

Analyse this data yourself on the Eighty20 Data Portal


Hard Times and Soft Skills
Global talent shortage is at a 15-year high, according to the Employment Outlook Survey carried out by ManpowerGroup in Q3 of 2021. In South Africa 46% of employers are having difficulty filling jobs. This is a massive increase from just 34% in 2019 and the Covid-19 pandemic is largely to blame. While Operations / Logistics skills are now most in demand, the pandemic has also sharpened focus on soft skills such as resilience and collaboration.
Cellphones: By the numbers:
Roughly 39m adult South Africans own or use at least one cellphone, and for 27m of them, their most used cellphone is a smartphone. Of these, Vodacom, MTN and CellC, each account for 43%, 34% and 16% respectively. (PAMS 2019)
MySchool MyVillage MyPlanet raised R7 – R8m per month to assist schools, charities, environmental and animal organisations. Hope you have a card!
Game changers: Tax-e: According to the SA National Taxi Council, there are more than 200,000 minibus taxis in South Africa≠ generating over R90 billion each year. The taxi industry in SA has started to adopt an e-ticket fare collection system that will enable commuters to load their FairPay cards via point of sale devices and kiosks at taxi ranks. Apart from being able to process card payments, the equipment installed in taxis also contains a GPS device, and can act as a WiFi hotspot, providing commuters with internet connectivity while they travel.
Out of office: Time out: Sri Lanka is recognised as having the most public holidays of any country in the world, with 25, followed by India with 21. In comparison, South Africa has 12 public holidays, and Mexico has the least with 7.


Employment/Unemployment 1st Quarter 2024

The first quarter saw notable employment gains across various sectors:

  • The agricultural sector added 21 046 jobs.
  • Mining and quarrying saw an increase of 8 630 jobs.
  • The manufacturing sector witnessed a substantial gain of 98 853 jobs.
  • Wholesale and retail trade, motor trade, hotels, and restaurants collectively created 108 881 jobs.
  • Jobs in the transport, storage, and communication sector increased by 38 979.
  • The private household sector saw a gain of 44 138 jobs.

However, several sectors experienced declines in employment:

  • The financial intermediation, insurance, real estate, and business services sector shed 49 803 jobs.
  • The community and social services sector saw a significant decline of 121 959 jobs.
  • The electricity, gas, and water supply sector recorded a loss of 17 233 jobs.
  • The construction sector experienced a notable decrease of 106 394 jobs.

NOTE: these “Official”  figures are based on PAYE and UIF returns, they take no account of the +/-  8 million jobs in the Informal Sector which has an annual turnover of +/- R 1 trillion, roughly 25% of GDP. The “Official” unemployment figure of +/- 32% does not reflect actual unemployment.


4. Tourism

Tourist Arrivals - SA Fast Facts - sa-good-news

A mountain of flowers

Table Mountain National Park is home to ~1,500 plant species and is part of the broader Cape Floral Region. Covering less than 0.5% of the area of Africa, but home to nearly 20% of the continent’s plant species, the Cape Floral Region has the highest density of plant species in the world. Over 9,000 species grow in an area ~90,000km2, almost 70% of which don’t occur naturally anywhere else on Earth.

Sources: onetwo

Always Bright in Bo-Kaap

Lining cobbled streets with every coloured home imaginable, the Bo-Kaap is a neighbourhood located on the outskirts of Cape Town’s City Centre, dating back to the 1760’s. While it is known for its colourful houses, historians have yet to establish how this originated. Many legends circulate the area, the most plausible theory is that they were originally painted to celebrate the end of Ramadan.

Get to know your neighbors better with Eighty20’s Suburb Profiler

Source: onetwo

2 South African hotels ranked one of the Most Romantic Hotels in the World 2022

La Residence in Franschhoek and Lion Sands Ivory Lodge in Mpumalanga, South Africa were both ranked one of The Most Romantic Hotels in the World for 2022
Big 7 Travel has officially released The 50 Most Romantic Hotels for 2022.

Longitude 131º in Australia topped the list last year while Adare Manor in Ireland came in at No.1 in 2020 and Taj Lake Palace in India came in at No.1 in 2019.

Income from tourism accommodation rose by 55,8% y/y in January after a 60,5% gain in 2022 to R22bn.

Source: Helmo Preuss

Passport Power - SA Fast Facts - sa-good-news

Kruger National Park in South Africa was revealed as the 10th ‘Most Popular Selfie Spot in the World’.International car comparison site EnjoyTravel has officially released The 25 Most Popular Selfie Spots in the World.
Selfies are now embedded into our culture and with an average of 93 million selfies taken a day, you can say we take a lot of them. As the Instagram-famous saying goes: ‘Pics or it didn’t happen! For the full list of the Most Popular Selfie Spots in the Worldplease see here
Home is where the Heritage is: South Africa is lucky enough to claim 10 UNESCO World Heritage Sites within her borders, the highest number in any African country. Natural Sites include the Vredefort Dome, Cape Floral Region, and iSimangaliso Wetland Park. Cultural landmarks include Robben lsland, The Cradle of Humankind and the Mapungubwe Cultural Landscape; historical city ruins famous for being the home of an 800-year-old golden rhino statuette.
Most Tourist Arrivals 2017: France # 1 @ 86 million; Spain #2 @ 82m; USA # 3 @ 77m; Saudi Arabia # 21 @ 16m; SA # 36 @ 10m; Australia # 40 @ 8m
Biggest Tourist Spenders China # 1 @ US$ 260 billion; USA # 2 @ US$ 173 b; Germany # 3 @ US$ 97b; UK # 4 @ US$ 71b.
Spring time; Flower kingdom: The Cape floristic region, one of six floral kingdoms in the world, was declared a World Heritage Site in 2004. The biodiversity hotspot has one of the highest concentrations of plant species in the world and is the only floral kingdom to be contained within a single country. It contains around 9,600 species, of which 70% do not grow anywhere else in the world.
South Africa is ranked among the top 3 countries in the world (countries with more than 9 million tourists) in respect of tourism growth (growing at 3 times the global average) -World Tourism Council

  • Pre COVID SA ranked 24th in terms of visitors at 16.5 million, 10.5 million of which are tourists (France 83 million, UK 29 million, Switzerland 8.5 million, India 7.6 million, Australia 8 million). (Economist 2020)
  • Table Mountain was inaugurated as one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature in 2012.
  • Cape Town International is the best airport in Africa, according to the World Airport Awards 2012. O R Tambo International was 2nd and King Shaka International came 3rd. They were ranked 26th, 28th and 30th respectively in the world (2019)
  • TripAdvisor has named Boulders Beach as one of its top 10 truly unique beaches in the world.


South Africa’s booming tourism industry is poised for long term success

South Africa’s tourism industry has emerged strongly from the effects of the pandemic. Within the next 10 years, the sector is expected to contribute 800,000 jobs and R287 billion to the national economy. Furthermore, according to the Department of Tourism, the country hosted more than 2 million visitors in the first quarter of 2023 and more than 5.8 million last year. The first quarter of the year also saw foreign direct spending hit an impressive R25.3 billion, a 143% increase compared to the same period in 2022. The local tourism industry is well positioned to continue witnessing unprecedented growth and by leveraging innovative strategies, key players in the industry will be able to further augment that and help South Africa fulfil its tourism potential. With the industry expected to grow significantly within the next decade, Marc Wachsberger, Shanna Docherty and Samantha Williams share some insights on steps that need to be taken to fuel the industry, starting with e-Visas, addressing supply and demand, air travel, and technological advancements.



In 2022, Airbnb contributed around R23.5 billion to GDP – a 115% increase and remarkable rebound – from pre-COVID levels in 2019. This translates to a total contribution of almost 50,000 jobs.

Inclusive TourismAirbnb’s model makes it easier for hosts to enter the tourism market, and for travellers to find a well-located and affordable place to stay. In 2022, guest nights were up by 34% compared with 2019, with affordability being the main reason reported by guests for using Airbnb.

64% of surveyed hosts identifying as female, compared to a global average of 55%.

Geographic SpreadAirbnb is helping to spread the benefits of tourism. While international demand remains concentrated in the Western Cape and Gauteng, domestic tourism on Airbnb saw growth in other parts of the country. Seven of the ten fastest-growing towns on the platform are outside the Western Cape and Gauteng. This can be a boost to smaller towns: on average, Airbnb guests spend nearly R3000 a day on non-accommodation expenses, and more than half of this spending takes place in local neighbourhoods.


5. Sport

Checking in on the Commonwealth

Remnants of Empire

The first Commonwealth Games event, which took place in Hamilton, Canada in 1930, was called the British Empire Games and started out with 400 athletes and 6 sporting categories. The most recent Commonwealth Games, held in Birmingham, England, has grown exponentially since its inception with more than 4 500 athletes competing across 20 sporting categories.

Source: onetwothree


And the winner is…Olympics 2020. All 5,000 of the medals being dished out in Tokyo were made from old electronic equipment. “6,2m old mobile phones were donated by Japanese electronics shops, schools and the general public, who put their goods in yellow donation boxes at post offices and on street corners.”
Location, location, location: Since 1930, the FIFA World Cup has been hosted in the European Zone 11 times, including the 2018 World Cup in Russia. The zone that has hosted the tournament second most often is the South American Zone, hosting the tournament 5 times. The African Zone has only hosted the tournament once, in South Africa. The 2022 FIFA World Cup is expected to be hosted in the Asian Zone which has only hosted the tournament once before, when Korea and Japan dual hosted in 2002.
Rugby: Fans: 7.7 million South African adults are interested in rugby (20% of adults). 1.4 million say they have attended a rugby game in the past 12 months, and 720,000 people participated in the sport in the past 12 months.
South Africa won the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan, for the third time (tied with NZ) since the introduction of the RWC in 1987.
South Africa was the first African country to host the FIFA Soccer World Cup in 2010. It is only the second country in the world to have hosted the Cricket, Rugby Union and Soccer World Cups, after England.
South Africa is home to the world’s largest individually timed cycle race (the Cape Argus Cycle Race), the world’s largest open water swim (the Midmar Mile) and the world’s largest ultra-marathon (the Comrades Marathon)
5 South Africans hold the world extreme swimming world record for swimming 2.5kms around Cape Horn.
Since the 1940’s, South African golfers have won more golf majors than any other nation, apart from the United States.
Cricket is the third most popular sport in South Africa, with over 7 million adults expressing an interest in it. Soccer is the clear winner with 19.5 million adults (over half the population) expressing an interest in it.
Since being readmitted to international cricket in 1991, South Africa have appeared in all 7 editions of the Cricket World Cup. South Africa have reached the semi-finals of the competition on 3 of those occasions, but have never made an appearance in the finals.

SA has 3 stadiums in the World Top 10



Siya Kolisi, the captain who led South Africa’s Springbok rugby team to two World Cup victories (2019 and 2023), is currently one of the most recognisable sports figures in the world, having been featured in Time magazine’s “100 Most Influential People of 2024”.

Source: one

6. Education

South Africa’s Bill of Rights states that everyone has the right to a basic education and further education. However, according to MAPS data, ~53% of South African adults have not received their Matric certificate, and only 10% have a diploma or degree. While this number is concerning, the 2021 National Senior Certificate results are promising, showing a 24% increase in exam attendance, a 21% increase in bachelor passes, and a 19% increase in distinctions achieved compared to 2020.

The Sad Education Funnel: In 2003 there were 1.277m pupils starting school, but by 2015, there were only 687 230 pupils in Matric. This means only roughly half of those grade one students got into Matric without being held back. In 2016 there were 158 891 First time students entering public universities which was largely made up of the 2015 Matric class.
Learning, at a cost: In 2019, the average cost for the first year of university was R64,200 and was expected to rise to R107,600 by 2025 and R165,600 by 2030. This increasing barrier to education was the primary driver behind the #FeesMustFall student protests which argued for free higher education.
More For Education: In 2020 the South African government allocated R387.2bn to Learning and Culture, roughly 19% of the total R2.05tr budget for 2020/21. Now in 2021, government has increased the allocation to R402.9bn, a 4.1% increase in a smaller budget of R2.02tr for 2021/22.
Education spending as a % of GDP, SA 25th at 6%
Iceland 1st at 7.7%; Zimbabwe 5th at 7.5%; Finland 9th at 7.1%;
New Zealand 18th at 6.3%. UK spends 4.4%, USA 4.2%; Japan 2.8%

ECD Centres in SA: There are approximately 28 500 registered Early Childhood Development Centres in South Africa caring for +/- 1 900 000 children, according to figures Released Pretoria. South Africa currently has 30 000 schools of which 23 000 are primary schools and 7000 secondary schools, including 1098 registered independent or privately owned schools. These schools have over 12 million learners, and some 386 600 teachers, approx. 580 000 learners write matric, 50% of the intake in Grade 1.
Literate: The General Household Survey tests the ability to read by asking respondents to indicate whether they have any difficulty reading a newspaper, book or magazine. 1.44 million South African adults (4%) say they are unable to read and a further 490,000 (1% of adults) say they ‘have a lot of difficulty’. For woman aged 60 or more, 20% say they are unable to read and a further 5% have a lot of difficulty reading
Attendance in SA’s 26 Universities is estimated at 1 million enrolled students (622 000 at 25 Universities and 400 000 at UNISA)
The Cost of Education in SA: Education inflation is higher than South Africa’s Consumer Price Index (CPI) and this gap has widened from around 2% in the early 2000s to a probable 4% in 2017. This means that a parent whose child starts grade R in 2017 can expect to pay between *R1 332 112 and R3 011 415 – for public or private education respectively. This rand amount includes primary school, high school and a three year University qualification in 2032”.*
The Rhodes Scholarship, established in 1902 and named after Cecil John Rhodes, is an international postgraduate award. It is widely regarded as ‘the most prestigious scholarship in the world’ with more than 7,000 Rhodes Scholars.
Nine of South Africa’s 23 universities rank in the top 4% of the 20 000 registered universities worldwide, and 11 in the top 8%. None of our Universities rank below 10 000th (QS Survey which involves 60 000 academics and 30 000 business executives worldwide) There are four serious ranking agencies globally, and the rankings differ. Most of the ranking criteria have to do with academic measurements, research published etc. Others are more arbitrary like numerical size, number of faculties offered.

University 2019 QS Global Ranking
UCT 198
WITS 400
UJ 501
KZN 788
UWC 800

With the recent AACSB accreditation, the University of Cape Town’s Graduate School of Business is now one of just 59 out of 13,670 business schools worldwide to be triple-crowned – schools that are accredited by the three largest and most influential business school accreditation associations namely AMBA (the Association of MBAs), European Quality Improvement System (EQUIS) and Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB).

The University of Pretoria’s Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS) 45th and UCT 51st are ranked in the Top 80 business Schools in the world (Financial Times Executive Education rankings 2019)
Some 12 million learners receive free cooked meals as part of the National School Nutrition Programme Annual Report 2018/19/20.
he first MBA programme outside of the United States was started by the University of Pretoria in 1949.
Stellenbosch University was the first African university in the world to design and launch a microsatellite.

Forever Young
According to the Eighty20 National Segmentation, the Students and Scholars segment make up 11% (4.8m people) of the consumer population in South Africa and have an average age of 17.5. They are highly digitally engaged with 71% of the population owning a smartphone, and spending an average of 2.2 hrs on the internet per day.
Source: Eighty20 –


Here’s how your swipes have helped your causes in May 2022.

Thank you for making a difference!

With your swipes we have raised R7 787 928.45 during May 2022 to assist schools, charities, environmental and animal welfare organisations.

We regularly share impact stories to show how these funds are helping to change lives on our blog, Facebook page, and Instagram. Please join our platforms to be part of the conversation.

Make Every Swipe Count!


Empowerment by Degrees

According to the Labour Force Survey, available through Eighty20’s Data Portal, the level of education achieved by South African women has improved remarkably over the past decade. More specifically, the number of women with a tertiary education has increased by 62% from 2013 to 2023.

Analyse this data yourself on the Eighty20 Data Portal


SA’s Schoolin

The proportion of South Africans over 20 years old that have completed secondary school or higher has increased from 29% in 2001 to 50% in 2022, according to the Census 2022.

Source: one



A study commissioned  by Inyathelo, the South African Institute for Advancement, has revealed a significant increase in philanthropic funding for South African universities. However, the research also exposes deep-seated disparities in funding distribution that continue to plague the higher education sector.

South African universities saw a remarkable increase in philanthropic income in 2020, valued at R2.31 billion, nearly double 2019 funding. When Sector Education and Training Authority (SETA) income is also  included (funding from skills development and training organisations), the total reached R2.66 billion.

Now in its eight edition since it was launched in 2013, the Annual Survey of Philanthropy in Higher Education (ASPIHE) provides comprehensive data and analysis on philanthropic support to South African universities.

More donors: Some 11 244 donors contributed to 10 institutions in 2020, compared with 4 355 donors in 2013.

Parity in giving: The proportion of income from international donors, 50%, was matched by South African sources. This suggests  robust levels of civic responsibility by South Africans, says Professor Thaver.


Homework Hurdles

Of the more than a million children who start school every year, in 2023 only 58 out of 100 made it to matric, with 48 passing. Only 19 out of 100 will proceed to any sort of tertiary education.

Read our Back to School blog here

7. Environmental

Now that COP 27 is over, some numbers from JP Landman’ newsletter. South Africa is the 13th largest emitter in the world. Agreement to the Paris accord is voluntary. Each country decides on a reduction target for its Greenhouse gas emissions – a nationally determined contribution (NDC). It is important to note that this target is set by the country itself. It is not imposed from outside. 

In 2021 the South African government set the country’s contribution at 350 million to 375 million tons of carbon equivalent by 2030, consistent with limiting climate change to 1,5 °C. Currently our emissions run at about 450 million tons, so this target requires a reduction in emissions of about 17%.

South Africa is the 13th largest emitter in the world. Our 450 million tons compare to a global average of 172 million tons per country. Per capita we emit about 7,5 tons against a global average of 4,8 tons. Measured per capita, we are the 15 largest in the world. Whichever metric, we are a big emitter. 

The rest of Africa has not contributed much to Greenhouse gasses. When talking emissions some African leaders are indeed quick to say “Africa, South Africa excluded …”. We thus cannot hide behind Africa

Civil Society in SA strong

Environmental activists moved might and main to protect the Wild Coast from the seismic explosions of one of the world’s greatest polluters, Shell. On 28 December they won a historic legal victory with a judgment that ordered a halt to the survey and sent the misnamed Amazon Warrior (no relation to the once famous Greenpeace ship, the Rainbow Warrior) sulking out of South African waters. That a small village on the Wild Coast, Xolobeni and the Amadiba Crisis Committee, could successfully take on one of the world’s most powerful and corrupt companies is testimony once more to the fact that activists, armed with constitutional law, evidence and  social mobilisation can still win.

Waste Crisis According to the State of Waste Report produced in 2018, South Africa produces 54m tonnes of general waste per year, 61% of which is landfilled. This means that nationwide, landfills are becoming overfilled and closing down. In the Western Cape alone, the report stated that 73 of the 152 Waste Disposal Facilities had been earmarked to close, which is causing what many have coined the “Waste Crisis”.
Sources: one
Where did Frosty go? The air temperature of the Antarctic Peninsula has increased by 3°C since the 1950s, 5 times that of the mean rate of global warming. The impact of rising air temperature has resulted in the loss of ~25 000 km² of ice shelf, an area larger than Gauteng, directly impacting both local land and marine wildlife whilst also resulting in the rise in sea levels across the globe.

Decades of Decline: The WWF’s Living Planet Report 2020 reports on the Living Planet Index (LPI) over the period from 1970 to 2016. The LPI tracks 4,392 vertebrate species, and showed an average decline in population size over the period of 68%.

Don’t forget climate change: Global lockdowns in 2020 reduced pollutants such as carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxides by between 10 and 30 percent. However, this temporary behaviour change is unlikely to result in long term impact. Under pessimistic assumptions that travel restrictions continue until the end of 2021, this temporary behaviour change would only prevent 0.01° C of warming by 2030.
A park the size of Iceland: The Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park will join the Kruger National Park to parks in Mozambique and Zimbabwe. It will be a conservation area of almost 100 000 km², supporting 5 different types of vegetation, 147 mammals, 116 reptiles, 49 fish species, 34 frog species, and over 500 species of bird. This area will be larger than nearly 90 countries on the globe.

Our Solutions are in Nature: Although South Africa only accounts for 2% of the world’s land surface it is home to 10% of the world’s plant species and 7% of its reptile, bird and mammal species. Biodiversity contributes approximately R31bn per year to the South African economy through tourism demand and additionally contributes R18bn to the African Traditional Medicine sector.

Carbon Dioxide Emissions (2015)

In terms of millions of tonnes per annum SA ranked 13th @ 502 m tons, China 1 @ 10 603, USA 2 @ 5 414, India 3 @ 2 151.In terms of tonnes per person SA 30th @ 9.2, Qatar 1 @ 53, Singapore 2 @ 43, Trinidad and Tobago 3 @ 39. China, India not in top 30 countries, USA 14th.
Farming and land Redistribution: Textiles, poultry and sugar farming are labour intensive industries with big scope for emerging farmers. Government has released 167 000 units of land belonging to SOEs (totalling 14 100 ha) for redistribution to citizens. Thirty-year leases on 1 400 farms have also been signed with beneficiary farmers.
At the end of 2018, South Africa entered the world top 10 of countries harnessing renewable energy from the sun, with 15 solar plants contributing 503 MW to the country’s grid.
In 1991, South Africa became the first country in the world to provide full protection status for the Great White shark within its jurisdictional waters. Countries including USA, Australia, Malta and Namibia followed suit later.
Cape Town has the fifth-best blue sky in the world according to the UK’s National Physical Laboratory.
Johannesburg ranks 2nd among countries from Asia/Pacific, Middle East and Africa in dealing with urbanisation and environmental challenges, (MasterCard Insights Report)
South Africa is the only country to house an entire floral kingdom (Fynbos), one of only 6 on the planet.
The Vredefort Dome (or Vredefort crater) in the Free State, is the largest verified impact crater on Earth at between 250 and 300km in diameter and is estimated to be over 2 billion years old.
South Africa has the highest level of international certification of its tree plantations in the world. Over 80% of South African plantations are certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). Paper Manufacturers Association of South Africa
All paper in South Africa is produced from plantation grown trees, recycled paper or bagasse (sugar cane fibre). Fibre is not sourced from the wood of rainforests, indigenous or boreal trees. This is a myth, often wrongfully perpetuated by e-mail footnotes. Paper Manufacturers Association of South Africa
SA’s renewable energy programme is the fastest growing in the world. Private sector investment in renewable energy generation will reach R193bn following the announcement of another 13 preferred bidders for wind and solar photovoltaic (PV) projects.
South African high net worth individuals are found to be the second most financially generous nation behind the United States, and fourth most generous in giving their time after Ireland, India and the USA.
320 major dams in South Africa supply 32,400,000,000 cubic litres of water per annum.

Rhino Slaughter:

So far this year, 231 rhinos have been killed for their horns in South Africa, a decline of 28 animals (11%), compared with last year’s statistics. This left Forestry, Fisheries and Environment Minister Barbara Creecy feeling optimistic.  

Figures show that poaching has continued its trend of moving away from Kruger National Park to provincial and private reserves in KwaZulu-Natal.

The other measures being taken to combat poaching include dehorning, erecting and repairing a fence around the Hluhluwe/iMfolozi Park in KwaZulu-Natal and providing a designated prosecutor to facilitate rhino cases in that province. foot note: This is ‘good news’ but just to point out the decline in population in the Kruger from 10 000 animals to 1500 needs to be taken into account. I was in Kruger of five days last week, not a Rhino to be seen.


Paper Manufacturers Association of South Africa

What do 161 rugby fields and South Africa’s paper recycling have in common?

1.3 million tonnes of paper and paper packaging kept out of SA’s landfills thanks to recycling

JOHANNESBURG – SEPTEMBER 14, 2023 –Thanks to the waste separation efforts of conscientious citizens, businesses, schools and the greater recycling industry, South Africa recycled just less than 1.3 million tonnes of paper and paper packaging in 2022. If baled and laid out, this would cover 161 rugby fields.

 The same amount would weigh as much as 208,553 mature African elephants, or fill 1,502 Olympic -sized swimming pools. “More importantly, it saved 3.8 million cubic metres of landfill[i] space, and ensured that the paper industry could re-use the fibre in cardboard boxes, grocery bags, egg boxes, newspapers, and tissue products,” explains Samantha Choles, communications manager of the Paper Manufacturers Association of South Africa (PAMSA).


Shark Tales

In 1991 South Africa became the first country to protect the iconic great white shark, pioneering global conservation efforts. Overfishing in the 1970s and 1980s in the Atlantic had brought the great white shark population to around 27% of what it was in the early 1960s.

Sources: onetwo


8. Social

The Most Thoughtful Societies Index 2022
Study uses data to reveal the most caring and empathetic societies in the world by considering a range of factors including philanthropy, social equality and support for families.

  • South Africa ranks as one of the most thoughtful societies worldwide (#34).
  • The most thoughtful society in the world is the Netherlands, followed by Canada and Finland.
  • People in Indonesia make the most private donations to charity in the world. Australia and the UK rank second and third.
  • People in the USA do the most volunteering in the world, followed by New Zealand and Indonesia.
  • Saudi Arabian families provide the most support for their elderly members. The United Arab Emirates and Thailand rank second and third.

“Despite the great challenge in the country, there has never been a better time to make a positive impact in honour of Madiba. But there is one pressing issue still remains unresolved – 10 million tonnes of food is wasted each year while 18 million people go hungry every day. Fruits, vegetables, and cereals account for 70% of this wastage. (See “Good deed”s section)
Who owns our homes? In Gauteng only 73% of households own their homes, with the other 27% renting. Across South Africa, this number improves to 81% owned and 19% rented, with 95% of all homes electrified. In the Western Cape, 98% of homes have electricity, but this declines to 90% in both the Northern Cape and the North West.
Untold Crime: According to MAPS 2020 roughly 2.2m (5%) South African adults reported having been a victim of violent crime in the last year. Of these, just over half reported this crime to the police.
Analyse the MAPS data yourself with a free Data Portal trial.
The Quality of the Rainbow Nation: 75% of South African adults believe that their quality of life is better than their parents/guardians when they were the same age.
Analyse the MAPS data yourself with a free Data Portal trial.
Kwanzaa: Kwanzaa is an African-American tradition celebrating African heritage. The holiday was created in 1966 as a means of promoting a sense of African-American community and combines traditions from all over Africa. The celebrations start on 26 December and continue for six days. Each day a candle is lit, symbolizing a different value such as unity and self-determination. The holiday culminates in gift giving on January first.
Who knows the truth? In a 40 country survey of 80,000 people’s media usage, 56% expressed concern about their ability to separate what is real from what is fake on the internet . In South Africa this number is significantly higher, at 72%, due to higher social media use.
Diversity in our Language: Zulu (24%), Xhosa (14%), Afrikaans (14%), English (12%) and Sepedi (10%) make up the top five of the more than 20 languages spoken most often at home in South Africa. (PAMS 2019)
Research for us all?
Women account for only 29.3% of the world’s researchers (professionals engaged in the conception or creation of new knowledge), according to the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS). In South Africa it was estimated that women accounted for 45.1%.
Language non-binary:
Being merely bilingual is not enough in a country with 11 official languages; the average South African uses 2.84 languages. isiZulu is the first language for the most people (11.6 million people), as well as the most common second language (15.7 million people). The least commonly spoken of the national languages are Tshivenda and isiNdebele (1.2 million and 1.7 million respectively). This year, President Ramaphosa added a twelfth official language: Sign Language (used by 0.5% of South Africans).

The First South Africans:
The San People, a diverse group of skilled hunter-gatherers who number about 100,000 and share historical and linguistic connections, are the oldest inhabitants of Southern Africa where they have lived for at least the past 20 000 years. Interestingly, the San have no formal leader, chief or figure of authority, but govern themselves by group consensus.
( #AfricaMonth
Crime: SA ranks 7th in homicides per 100 000 population; El Salvador # 1, Venezuela # 3. (In SA 75% of victims know their attackers by name)SA ranks 6th in robberies per 100 000 population; Belgium # 11, UK # 18; USA # 20; NZ # 24.SA ranks 24th prisoners per 100 000 population; USA # 1; Russia # 10; Brazil # 14; China # 20.Source: Economist
Cost of Living: The Economist Cost of Living Index measuring 185 countries ranks SA # 168 ‘lowest’. ‘Highest’ is France at # 1; Switzerland # 4; Australia # 10; UK # 15; New Zealand # 22. Lowest is Venezuela at # 185.
Divorce rates: According to the Economist, Russia has the highest divorce rate at 4.7 divorces per 1000 population; Denmark 11th at 2.6; USA 14th at 2.5. According to StatsSA the divorce rate in SA per 1000 pop is 0,4 (amongst the world’s lowest) with 25 390 finalised divorce forms processed during 2018.
Housing: Just over 80% of South African households lived in formal dwellings in 2019, followed by 14% in informal dwellings, and 6% in traditional dwellings. The highest percentage of households that lived in informal dwellings were observed in North West (20%) and Gauteng (20%). Traditional dwellings were most common in Eastern Cape (22%) and KwaZulu-Natal (14%).
Unquenchable Thirst: According to a statistical update from the World Health Organization, pure alcohol consumption in South Africa was at 11.5 litres per capita per year in 2017. This pushes South Africa up to the third biggest drinking nation in Africa and the 19th biggest drinking nation in the world. Among the drinking population (excluding abstainers), South Africans consume in the region of 27 litres of pure alcohol per capita per year. 60% of adults don’t consume alcohol.
Fast Fact: 6 Positive ways in which SA has developed over the last 15 years
Every year Stats SA releases its General Household Survey (GHS). The survey is conducted in the preceding year from January through to December.
1) Education
The percentage of people with no formal schooling has dropped by 6.7 percentage points nationally between 2002 and 2017.
2) Literacy
Nationally, the literacy rates of people over the age of 20 have consistently remained over 90% between 2002 and 2017 and even increased from 91.9% in 2002 to 94.3% in 2017.
The highest literacy percentages were observed in the Western Cape (98.1%), Gauteng (97.8%) and the Free State (94.2%). The metropolitan areas of the City of Cape Town, Nelson Mandela Bay and the City of Johannesburg all saw a literacy rate of 99%.
3) Health

The overwhelming majority of South Africans reported their health as being good or better. Of those surveyed, 39.9% reported their health as being good, 21.5% reported their health as being very good and 30.9% reported their health as being excellent.
4) Electricity

The percentage of households connected to electricity mains has increased from 76.7% in 2002 to 84.4% in 2017. The Eastern Cape made the biggest jump of all provinces by increasing from only 55.3% in 2002 to 85.4% of households in 2017.

5) Sanitation
The number of households with access to improved sanitation saw a massive growth of 20.5 percentage points between 2002 and 2017. The percentage of households with no toilet also decreased from 12.6% in 2002 to 3.1% in 2017.
6). Access to food
The percentage of households who were vulnerable to hunger has decreased from 24.2% to 10.4% over the 15-year period.
Source LEAD SA.
9 million South Africans live with disabilities, yet only one percent have jobs (Source StatsSA)
Population Growth: If a population is to remain stable 2.2 births are required per fertile woman. Niger has the highest fertility rate in the world at 7.6 births per woman which is more than three times greater than South Africa’s fertility rate of 2.3 and more than six times greater than Hong Kong’s fertility rate of 1.2. Europe averages 1.6. Just under 2 million women in South Africa have a child under the age of two. More than two thirds (68%) of them are single (never married and not living together).
South Africa ranks top 10 globally in number of registered NGO’s, with over 100,000 and over 220 000 NPO’s. The corporate sector donates R9 billion to CSI initiatives and ordinary citizens R15 billion.
The current police to population ratio is approximately 1:308. This ranks South Africa as the 9th best globally
Social Wage; In 2021, 19 million South Africans benefited from access to social grants, 14 million of which were children, 3.5 million pensioners and 1.5 million with disabilities at a cost of R140 billion. In 1994, only 2.5 million people had access to social grants, the majority of which were pensioners.
Since 1994, 435 houses have been built each day for the poor.
South Africa is ranked number 21 in terms of language diversity out of 224 countries. Papua New Guinea is ranked as the most linguistically diverse country and the Vatican the least. (Greenbergs diversity
The Global Peace Index (GPI) uses qualitative and quantitative metrics to measure the safety of 163 countries, as well as assess the economic value of peace. According to the GPI, Iceland is the most peaceful country on Earth. South Africa places 127th, USA 128th, Russia 154th, Afghanistan 163rd
South African media ranks 31st out of 180 countries in the Worldwide Press Freedom Index, up 6 places from last year. Norway 1st, UK 33rd, USA 48th North Korea 180th.
SA has the 19th largest prisoner to population ratio (USA is number 1).
South Africa has been ranked 118 out of 163 countries in the 2022 Global Peace Index (GPI), its best rating in 14 years, despite last year’s violent and prolonged July riots, which led to the deaths of more than 300 people.

The GPI data was recorded between 1 April 2021 and 1 March 2022.

In 2020 and 2021, South Africa ranked 123 on the overall index. The country is viewed by the researchers as progressively peaceful, despite being punctured by violence.

Source: Mail and Guardian


South Africa has been named the world’s friendliest nation, by a new global data study

US ranked 15th, UK 18th

9. Infrastructure

Railway Networks, passengers and freight:SA has the 11th longest rail network as measured in 1000kms @ 21 000 kms. USA # 1 @ 151 000kms; Canada # 5 @ 48 000kms; Australia # 7 @ 32 000kms; UK # 16 @ 16 000kms.. Most rail passengers Switzerland # 1; Japan # 2; UK # 10; SA #19. Most Rail Freight Russia # 1; US # 2; SA # 10.
Road Networks: The Economist records that SA has the 9th longest road network @ 891 132 kms. USA # 1 @ 6 853 024 kms, Russia # 5 @ 1 453 200 kms, Australia # 10 @ 872 848 kms, UK # 17 @ 422 310 kms. SA not in top 50 most crowded networks. SA ranks 33rd in terms of fatalities per 100,000 population @ 25.9. Liberia # 1 @ 35,9; Saudi Arabia # 20 @ 28,8.
Three South African cities were voted amongst the world’s top 100 Most Liveable Cities in the 2019 study conducted by Mercer Human Resource Consulting. In Africa, Port Louis (83) was the city with the best quality of living and also its safest (59). It was closely followed for overall quality of living by the South African cities of Durban (88), Cape Town (95) and Johannesburg (96).
Johannesburg is ranked as the 34th largest city in the world with a population of 9.4 million. Tokyo is the largest with a population of 38 million (Economist 2018).
Out of 100 countries surveyed by World Data SA has the 58th highest cost of living; Switzerland # 1, India # 100
South Africa is the 20th largest producer of energy (Economist 2020)

Water Crisis: Dam Deficit

According to the 2022 Census, almost half of households have faced water interruptions for two or more consecutive days. These challenges underscore the urgent need for improved water infrastructure, as highlighted at SONA. However, promises of new dams have largely gone unmet, with only one large dam built in the last 25 years, compared to 18 between 1964 and 1994.

Sources: onetwo

A Dark Winter?

In South Africa, winter electricity demand is expected to be 6,000 MW higher than in summer. However, the demand in 2024 is about 6% lower than in 2023 due to the rise of solar and other alternative energy installations.

Source: one

Roofs & Roots

According to MAPS, available through Eighty20’s Data Portal, 62% of South African households reside in a house (vs a flat, RDP house, etc.). Of these, 86% own the residence, with Limpopo and the Northern Cape having the highest home ownership rates at 93% and 90% respectively.

10. Health

A study has placed South Africa among the top 10 countries with the greatest health freedoms in the world. 

But, where does South Africa rank and what are these health freedoms?

Looking at factors such as access to abortions, euthanasia legality, access to universal healthcare and the legality of medicinal cannabis, the study by William Russell reveals which countries have the greatest and worst health freedoms

Improving Literacy
In March 2021 the Department of Higher Education & Training released a fact sheet on adult illiteracy in South Africa. According to the report the adult illiteracy rate in SA was 12.1% in 2019, a significant improvement compared to the 19.2% in 2009. Although this is a sign that literacy is improving it does point out that there are 4.4 million adults in SA who are still illiterate.
Pineapples and Hospital Beds; As a result of the 2020 alcohol bans, the South African alcohol industry lost R36.3bn in sales revenue, the government lost R29.3bn in tax revenue and the number of pineapples sold tripled. It is also estimated that the number of alcohol-related trauma cases dropped by 60% and freed up thousands of hospital beds for Covid-19 patients.

Effective Vaccines: As of 15 January 2021, the CDC authorises and recommends two COVID vaccines: The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, and Moderna’s vaccine. During clinical trials, these two vaccines were 95% and 94.1% effective at preventing COVID-19 illness in patients who had no evidence of having been infected.
A wors by any other name: The label ‘boerewors’ can only be used on sausages that contain 90% meat (beef, pork or goat are allowed) of which no more than 30% may be fat. It should not contain any offal or mechanically removed meat. (Google ‘mechanically removed meat’ at your own peril).
Viral Infection: Dengue is ranked by the World Health Organization (WHO) as the most important and fastest growing mosquito-borne viral disease in the world today, causing nearly 500 million infections every year. In the last five decades, dengue has spread from being present in a handful of countries to being endemic in 128 countries, where about 4 billion people live.
Life expectancy: In South Africa, the average life expectancy for women is highest in the Western Cape at 72 and lowest in the Free State at 62. Similarly, for men, it is also at its highest at 66 in the Western Cape and at its lowest in the Free State at 55. The life expectancy is calculated with the absence of HIV/Aids-related deaths.
According to researchers from Imperial College in London, South Africa has the 76th shortest average height for women in the world at 158 cm, while South African men are ranked 47th overall for the average height of 167 cm. Dutch men and Latvian women are now the tallest people in the world at 183 cm and 170 cm
South Africa has 1 doctor per 1000 population and 3 beds per 1000 population (Spain 3 doctors per 1000 population and 3.4 beds, UK 2 doctors per 1000 population and 4 beds, South Korea 1.4 doctors per 1000 population and 7.1 beds, USA 2.7 doctors per 1000 population and 3 beds). (Economist)
South Africa ranked 4th in terms of HIV/Aids prevalence amongst population behind Swaziland, Botswana and Lesotho. (Economist 2016)
SA ranks 16th in terms of deaths per 1000 of population (15) alongside Russia, Ukraine at # 1 (17), UK ranks 58th (10).
One in five South African adults attend a gym/health club or participate in other exercise (not at a gym/health club), at least monthly.

11. Miscellaneous

The Township with 2 Nobel Prizes

Soweto is South Africa’s largest township. Established in the 1930s south of Johannesburg, it currently has roughly 1.7m inhabitants. It has a rich political history, and is the location where 3,000 delegates assembled to approve the Freedom Charter in 1955 – which formed the basis for the current South African Constitution.

Get to know your neighbors better with Eighty20’s Suburb Profiler

Source: onetwothreefour


Chocolate for your love? A RetailMeNot survey shows that 44% of people would most like to receive chocolate for Valentine’s Day in 2021, compared to the 32% who felt that way in 2020. This year they are planning to spend $46 (R664) on average, which is $20 (R289) more than 2020.
Stealing a Christmas Kiss: The common tradition of stealing a Christmas kiss under the mistletoe can be dated back to Norse mythology where the goddess of love, Frigg, promised a kiss to anyone that passed beneath the plant. The modern tradition started in England and by the 18th century it had been widely accepted as a Christmas celebration.
Satellites in Space by Country of Ownership: 
SA ranks 26th alongside Denmark, Finland, & Malaysia. USA @ 1, China @ 2, Russia @ 3, UK @ 5, Oz @ 15, Switzerland @ 34. Source: Economist.
Oxford Dictionary additions – South African words “Kiff” added To the Oxford dictionary plus 23 other South African words
Mother Tongues: With 11 official languages, South Africa ranks second in the world of countries with the most official languages. While India has 16 official languages, in contrast, Mexico and the Unites States have no official languages.
The only street in the world to house 2 Nobel Peace Prize winners is in Soweto. Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu both have houses in Vilakazi Street, Orlando West. SA ranks 7th in terms of number of Nobel Peace prizes. (Economist 2020).
Two of the world’s most profoundly compassionate philosophies originated in South Africa – Ubuntu (the belief in a universal bond of sharing that connects all humanity) and Gandhi’s notion of “Passive resistance” (Satyagraha), which he developed while living in South Africa.
The Western Deep Level mines are the world’s deepest mines at approaching 4km.
South Africa houses one of the three largest telescopes in the world at Sutherland in the Karoo.
South Africa is the first, and to date the only, country to build nuclear weapons and then voluntarily dismantle its entire nuclear weapons programme.
South Africa ranks 15th in terms of Arms exporters (Economist 2020)
Africa ranks 26 in terms of satellites in space (Economist 2020)
South Africa ranks 19th in terms of emitters of carbon dioxide and per person is 30th (Economist 2020)
Pretoria is ranked the 25th most polluted city (Economist 2020)
SA ranks outside the top 22 countries in terms of beer consumption (Czech 1; Germany 2; Austria 3; Estonia 4).(Economist 2020)
SA has 56 million active cell phones (population 55 million) – ranking in the top 15 globally in terms of cell phone coverage (Economist 2020)
SA has 82 colour TV’s per 100 households, 9 telephone lines per 100 population and 90 mobile telephone subscribers per 100 population. (Economist 23020).
SA ranks 28th in terms of cinema visits per 1000 population. (Economist 2020).
South Africa is ranked 94th out 178 countries in respect of “brain drain”. Somalia 1st, Sweden 178th


Safer Travels

In 2022, the number of road fatalities over the Easter period in South Africa decreased by 31% YoY to 162. While most provinces recorded a decline in fatalities, the Western Cape and Mpumalanga recorded increases of 31% and 28% respectively.

Sources: onetwo


Annual study: South Africa has the best digital quality of life in Africa, while ranking 72nd globally

Surfshark’s Digital Quality of Life Index ranks South Africa 72nd in the world in 2023, dropping by six places from last year:

The DQL Index is an annual study that ranks 121 countries by their digital wellbeing based on 5 core pillars: internet quality, internet affordability, e-security, e-infrastructure, and e-government.

Here are the key findings about South Africa:

  • South Africa has the best digital quality of life in Africa.
  • South Africa’s internet quality is just around the global average and ranks 63rd in the world.
    • South Africa’s fixed internet speed (70 Mbps) has improved by 30% since last year, while mobile speed (68 Mbps) has improved by 30%.
    • The internet is affordable in South Africa compared to other countries. South Africans have to work 1 hour 43 minutes a month to afford fixed broadband internet — but this is 6 times more than in Romania, which has the world’s most affordable fixed internet.
    • South Africa performed worst in the e-infrastructure pillar (94th), which would need to improve by 39% to match the best-ranking country (Sweden).

For more information on South Africa’s performance, please see the full press release: 



I Do… I Mean, I Will

There is a shifting landscape in marriage demographics in South Africa, with an increasing number of brides and grooms opting to tie the knot later in life. Between 2015 and 2021, the median age for bridegrooms has ascended from 36 to 37, while brides have seen a corresponding increase from 31 to 33.

Sources: onetwo


Dear Mama

While 32.7% of children in South Africa live with both parents, 21.3% don’t reside with either. What’s particularly striking is that 42% of all children are raised solely by their mothers, leaving only 4% in the care of fathers alone.

Source: one


Size Matters

The 2022 Census reveals a consistent decline in family sizes, dropping from 4.5 individuals per household in 1996 to approximately 3.5 in 2022. Gauteng households have the smallest average size at around 2.8, while KwaZulu-Natal’s are the highest at 4.4.

Read our Changing South African Households blog here


Diapers, Dummies, and Dollars!

According to MiWayLife, first-time parents in South Africa spend an average of R100,000 per year to raise a child.

Source: one


Baby Dip

In 2024, South Africa’s birth rate stands at 18.8 births per 1,000 people, which is approximately half of the rate recorded in 1974, which was 37.5 births per 1,000 people.

Read our Changing South African Households blog here


Emigration Stats

Since 2000, the number of South Africans in the UK has grown from 136,720 to 247,336; Australia from 80,650 to 199,690; and the US from 65,171 to 117,321. New Zealand has almost tripled its SA emigrants, from 25,359 to 73,846 and Canada from 36,949 to 48,093.

In 2011, 45,866 citizens returned (46.2% were male and 53.8% female), but by 2022, the returns had dropped to 27,983 (with an equal split between male and female). 

In 2022, whites accounted for 52.9% of returnees, black Africans for 37.1%,  coloureds 4.9%, Indians/Asians 4.6%, and “other” for 1.9%. 



Electric cars

There are now about 26-million electric cars on the world’s roads, which means the global auto industry has made a $1-trillion commitment to carbon neutrality.  This is a tiny proportion of the total cars in use, but it is a five-fold increase since 2018.



The GINI co-efficient (1 being most unequal, 0 being all equal, calculation reflected as a decimal between 1 and 0) measures the difference of income distribution, and income is invariably measured by a payslip and PAYE returns, not by cash received (8 million cash ‘earners’ in the informal sector). The GINI co-efficient does not measure the contribution that the ‘social wage’ makes to a family’s income. In South Africa 28 million (twenty-eight!) people receive social grants of one sort or another (7 million taxpayers). Assuming a family of five, two children two parents/guardians and a Go-go, the likely value of  the ‘social wage’ is as follows, per month:

  • Child grant at R520 x2= R1040
  • Go-go foster care x 1 = R1180
  • Old age pension x 1= R2080
  • Free schooling x 2 = R1200*
  • Free food at school x 2 = R1000*
  • Subsidised school transport x 2 = R400
  • Subsidised water = R300*
  • Subsidised electricity = R300*
  • Subsidised housing = R1200*

TOTAL = R8700 (not included in GINI co-efficient calculations)

*My conservative estimates of ‘value’.

Factor those numbers in and the picture changes dramatically. To suggest, as the GINI co-efficient does, that India’s co-efficient @ .32 is ½ SA’s @ .63 is not probable!

12. Tax

South Africa is ranked 19 out of 189 economies in the 2018 Paying Taxes study conducted by the World Bank and PwC in terms of how easy it is for a medium-sized case study company to pay its taxes.
According to the study, the total tax rate globally is almost 41%. It takes the average medium-sized company 264 hours to comply with its taxes compared to 200 hours it takes a similar company in SA.
The study showed that a South African company only has seven tax payments, compared to the average of almost 26 payments.
SA has the 40th-lowest total tax rate out of the 189 economies included in the study. (Business Day 2018)

Estimated Tax Freedom Day (TFD) – the day after the country has earned enough money to pay for government – will be on May 14 this year. That is 2 days later than last year’s prediction. 

The prediction is based on the intended level of tax collection for central government mentioned in the Budget Speech. Typically, the actual figure – which is the general government revenue as a percentage of GDP from the Reserve Bank Quarterly – turns out to be 30% more than the intended figure for central government. 

SA’s support for the very poor is well-developed compared to many countries in our middle-income category. Actually that is a massive understatement. The support net has increased from around three million beneficiaries in 1995 to about 18 million now who currently receive state welfare grants, while a further 11 million get the state’s Covid-19 grant, now transformed into a general social relief grant. That is nearly half the population of the country. 

SA spends about R200-billion a year on the social grant system, and a further R44-billion on the social relief grant, which is at the moment around R350 a month.

There are some ten million registered taxpayers in SA, but I think only about 5.2-million actually qualify to pay Personal Income Tax, the largest of SA’s tax income categories.

13. Corruption

Global Corruption Perception Index 2021 - SA Fast Facts - sa-good-news

SA ranks 69 out of 18countries in the Global Corruption Perception Index 2021 (Where 1 is least corrupt and 180 most corrupt). In 2008 SA ranked 50/168. In 2013 SA ranked 72/168. In 2019 China 90, Brazil 110, Russia 146, Zimbabwe 163, USA 25, UK 15.
In the sub-Saharan Africa region, the index ranks South Africa at position four.
Botswana 35/168 remains the top scorer in Africa at 60/100


14. Global Competitiveness

The Good Country Index ranks 149 countries (SA Scores in brackets) on: science and technology (26), culture (58), international peace and security (14), world order (20), planet in climate care (114), prosperity and equality (96), health and well-being (35). SA ranks 41/149.
Mohair: South Africa is the biggest mohair producer in the world. 47% of the world’s mohair comes from our country and about 16% more from Lesotho – which is no small feat considering we’re competing with the US (Texas) and Australia.

South Africa’s Performance in the 2019 WEF Global Competitiveness Index
9 October 2019

1. Highlights
Competitiveness has a direct impact on the reputation of countries for a variety of reasons. It particularly plays a role in framing an understanding of the broader enabling environment(s) that impact on societal productivity, efficiency.

Competitiveness is a major factor that impacts on FDI decisions.

In the 2019 edition of the WEF Global Competitiveness Index (GCI) South Africa shows strong improvements, being:

  • In terms of over-all ranking South Africa improves with seven positions from 67/140 in 2018, to 60/140 nations in 2019;
  • The Institutions pillar improves from 69/140 to 55/141 – this is important due to reputation damage in the area of governance in recent years;
  • Health, also historically a weaker area of SA’s performance, improves from 125 to 118 in 2019;
  • Product Market improves from 74 to 69 in 2019

It is positive for South Africa to improve in its over-all competitiveness profile, and ranking. However, while there are notable improvements in the 2019 GCI, it is also important to note that there are several indicators which show negative movement.

The most salient improvements and declines are explored in the section below. A few high-level achievements to note:

  • According to GCI data South Africa now ranks as number one (1/141) nation for budget transparency. This is a major ranking which clearly illustrates the robustly transparent political governance system of the country, anchored in the constitution of the Republic.
  • This data is also supported by the Open Budget Index wherein South Africa ranks 2/103 nations – clearly underlining the fact that South Africa has extremely high levels of transparency in its political governance system.
  • South Africa’s ranking on judicial independence also improves markedly with fifteen positions on 2018 – currently at 33/141 nations.
  • Interestingly enough, following on 2018, a year wherein local and global media carried extensive (and mostly negative) commentary on South Africa’s proposed Land Expropriation without Compensation policy, South Africa’s rankings in the following areas improved, being: Property rights, as well as Quality of Land Administration!

2. South Africa’s performance per pillar

The WEF GCI is composed of twelve pillars, each covering a unique area of performance that ultimately influences the over-all competitiveness profile of the market. WEF Global Competitiveness Index


South Africa

Pillar 2018 Rank (/140) 2019 (/141)
Over-all rank 67 60
Institutions 69 55
Infrastructure 64 69
ICT Adoption 85 89
Macro-economic stability 57 59
Health 125 118
Skills 84 90
Product market 74 69
Labour market 55 63
Finance system 18 19
Market size 35 35
Business dynamism 56 60
Innovation capability 46 46

SA is the 29th biggest economy globally (PPP), and roughly the same population-wise and geographically. Our rankings should match this. Since 2002 our global political rankings have yo-yo’d considerably. Good to see a significant improvement 2019/2020.


Although we are still considered a premier league country, with overall rankings in the top 60
countries (there are 205 countries in the world, only 80 with populations in excess of 10 million
people) the above rankings:

  • some good
  • some average
  • some bad

Sum up the challenges we have as a country.