South Africa: A sunnier outlook for importers?

10 min read
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Like many African nations, South Africa has endured a difficult, turbulent recent history. Following independence from British colonial rule in 1961, the divisive apartheid regime that followed eventually collapsed in 1991. 

As images of Nelson Mandela’s release from prison were beamed around the globe, South Africa was awash with a powerful sense of hope and optimism. 

Today, the promise of better times ahead has been almost fully realized: South Africa is now the continent’s most powerful nation, and a shining example of a country that has overcome division to successfully embrace democracy and stability. 

Challenges remain

Despite all this success, South Africa still has barriers to overcome before it becomes the fully developed nation it wants to be. Economic inequality is a major problem, with 45% of the country’s income earned by 10% of the population. 

The five main urban centers, including the administrative capital Pretoria, and tourist hotspots Cape Town and Johannesburg, are magnets of affluence, leaving large areas of the country in financial hardship. 

Some studies suggest that around a quarter of the country’s 55 million people live in extreme poverty. Reducing inequality and delivering new jobs is a big priority for the South African government – long-term studies indicate it is succeeding. 

Women gathered in tradtional African dress

Good for business

Power outages are common in South Africa, but don’t let that fool you. South Africa’s infrastructure is up to the task of supporting a global import and export market. It has a mature transport and logistics infrastructure, legal framework, and tax system, and it’s an excellent springboard into other African markets. 

South Africa’s economic growth has stalled in recent years. But all signs point to just a temporary road bump. GDP forecasts paint a sunnier, if cautious, picture of the country’s outlook. 

The opportunity for you

E-commerce is growing fast in South Africa, despite comparatively low internet penetration. Slow economic growth shouldn’t discourage any prospective overseas traders. South Africa is very much open for business.

Want to start exporting to South Africa? Our PDF guide gets you on the road to success.

Children running on a South African street

Download the DHL Country Guide to South Africa and discover:

- Why South Africa should be a target market 

- What South Africans want to buy

- Why its prospects look good despite a slow economy

Country Guide: South Africa

Should you export to South Africa? This downloadable PDF guide has the answers!

Country Guide: South Africa
Country Guide: South Africa