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The Emerging Market in South Africa

Africa has just three emerging markets: Morocco and Egypt on the northern end of the continent and the Republic of South Africa on the southern end. Many nations in the middle are termed frontier markets — less developed than the emerging markets. South Africa is the dominant economy south of the Sahara. Africa has enormous potential, and South Africa shows how economic growth happens.

  • Type of government: Republic

  • Major industries: Electronics, fertilizer, motor vehicles and parts, textiles

  • Currency: Rand

  • English-language newspaper: Mail & Guardian

The apartheid policies of the mid-20th century led to international businesses pulling out of South Africa, not wanting to be associated with the government. Educated people of all ethnicities left the country. By the late 1980s, the South African government realized that if it continued with apartheid, the country’s economy would collapse. It freed political prisoner Nelson Mandela in 1990 and ended the policy of apartheid. Mandela was elected president in 1994 and did a masterful job of bringing the people together and creating a culture of reconciliation. Instead of descending into civil war, South African leaders raised their standards, reassured their citizens, and convinced businesses and consumers all over the world to trade with the nation again. The 2010 World Cup took place in South Africa, bringing in tourist dollars, infrastructure improvements, and positive public relations.

Not that there aren’t problems: The people have a high rate of HIV infection, community crime is a rampant, and educated people of all ethnicities are tempted to leave by opportunities elsewhere.

If South Africa can continue its economic development and solve its crime problems, it may soon graduate from emerging-market status. The ports, soil, climate, and minerals that attracted the colonists are still in place and are still the envy of most of the world.

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