Year: 2010
Working paper number: 276
Author: Nattrass, Nicoli
Unit: SSU

The South African economy experienced substantial growth and change over the course of the twentieth century. By the time of Union in 1910, gold-mining on the Witwatersrand had already and rapidly transformed what had been a peripheral agricultural economy into an industrialising economy with a strong minerals export sector.  Gold attracted British capital and European immigrants, and made possible secondary industrialisation and four decades of sustained economic growth in the middle of the century. Between the early 1930s and early 1970s, the South African economy grew approximately ten-fold in real terms, and gross domestic product (GDP) per capita rose steadily (see Figure 1).  At the end of the apartheid era, in 1994, South Africa accounted for almost exactly one-half of the total GDP of sub-Saharan Africa (UNDP, 1997: Table 25).

Publication file: wp276.pdf