It’s official! South Africa, Africa’s most developed economy, now in recession

Jacob Zuma 3

Weak manufacturing and trade sectors have forced Africa’s most developed economy, South Africa, into recession, Statistics South Africa has said.

This is the second time that South Africa’s economy has fallen into a recession since 2009, after it contracted for a second straight quarter in the first three months of the year as all bars two industries shrank.

In the report, released on Tuesday in Pretoria, Statistics South Africa says the former Apartheid country slipped into a technical recession for the first time since 2009 after the economy contracted in the first quarter.

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The country’s statistics body said that the economy contracted by 0.7 percent in the first quarter after shrinking by 0.3 percent in the fourth quarter of 2016.

According to the report, Gross Domestic Product (GDP) receded an annualised 0.7 percent in the first quarter from a contraction of 0.3 percent in the previous three months.

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But the current recession is also occasioned by political uncertainty in the country, which analysts say has hampered implementing reforms aimed at boosting growth.

President Jacob Zuma changed his cabinet and fired Pravin Gordhan as finance minister in March, a move that saw the nation lose its investment-grade status with two ratings companies for the first time in 17 years.

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South Africa finds itself in some good company, including Nigeria, which is in a recession that is the worst in the country’s history since 1987.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) predicted that South Africa would enter recession in 2016 — a prediction that has now been fulfilled, albeit belatedly.

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