Economic powerhouse Gauteng makes more than a third of SA’s money

The manufacturing industry is an important player in South Africa’s economy. Picture: Tom Fisk/Pexels

The manufacturing industry is an important player in South Africa’s economy. Picture: Tom Fisk/Pexels

Published Sep 27, 2023


Gauteng may be the smallest province in terms of size, but it is still South Africa’s economic powerhouse, contributing more than 30 percent of all the money made by the country’s economy.

Unsurprisingly, this province is also perceived to be the best place to find employment and is expected to see the largest growth of migrants in the next few years.

In 2022, Gauteng –whose economy is larger than both those of KwaZulu-Natal and the Western Cape combined – was responsible for R33 of every R100 produced by South Africa’s economy, reveals Stats SA’s provincial GDP estimates for the 2013 to 2022 period.

Buy contrast, the Northern Cape, which is the least populous province, contributes the least to national economic output, driving only 2.2 percent of total production.

KwaZulu-Natal is the second-largest contributor to the country’s GDP, with 15.9 percent contributed to the national GDP, followed by the Western Cape with 13.9 percent.

Considering Gauteng is the country’s biggest economy, Stats SA says it is “no surprise” that it is perceived to be the best place to find work, and estimates that the province will receive the largest inflow of migrants in the 2021 to 2026 period, attracting 1,4 million individuals. The Western Cape is predicted to receive the second-highest number of migrants (0,46 million) from other provinces and abroad.

South Africa’s biggest industries

The structure of each provincial economy is unique with the finance, real estate, and business services industry, for example, the largest in the Western Cape, followed by manufacturing. These industries contributed 30 percent and 16 percent to value added in 2022.

In four provinces, however, mining is the biggest contributor.

Stats SA’s data shows that:

  • Finance, real estate, and business services is the most influential industry in three provinces – Western Cape, Free State, and Gauteng
  • Mining is the largest industry in Northern Cape, North West, Mpumalanga, and Limpopo
  • Personal services, which includes activities related to health and education, was the most significant contributor to the economies of Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal

While not a top industry in any of the nine provinces, manufacturing is an important player, appearing in the top four in the Western Cape, Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng, and Mpumalanga. In fact, these five provinces employed 90 percent of the national manufacturing workforce in 2021.

Provincial economic growth in South Africa in 2022

In addition to being the biggest provincial economy, Gauteng also recorded the highest growth rate last year. South Africa’s GDP expanded by 1.9 percent, with all provinces registering positive growth.

The economy of Gauteng grew by 2.8 percent, mainly pushed higher by finance, real estate, and business services, as well as transport and communication, Stats SA says. These two industries also drove much of the upward momentum in the Western Cape.

The data shows that the Northern Cape, Mpumalanga, and North West recorded growth rates below the 1 percent mark as, although these provinces posted positive gains, the mining industry was a significant drag on growth in all three economies. At a national level, the mining industry contracted by 7.1 percent.

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