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BRICS by Bricks – Part V: South Africa

BRICS by Bricks – Part V: South Africa

By Bitan Bhadra

South Africa is the most recent addition to the BRIC club. It is in fact what changed the former BRIC to BRICS in 2011. It is hard to say why the four powerful BRIC countries decided to partner South Africa when there were offers from other better off economies as well.

The highs and lows of South Africa

The economy of South Africa has not been a great success story but it can be said to moderately good. It is indeed promising. The economy of South Africa is the largest in Africa, almost 24% of Africa’s GDP in terms of purchasing power parity. It is ranked as an upper-middle income economy by the World Bank; making it one of only four such countries in Africa. It has successfully grown its economy from primary sector (agriculture) to secondary (industrialization) to the tertiary (services) sector; something other BRICS members have failed in. This makes south Africa a stable economy. Its tertiary sector is on the rise and while much of the world was hurt from the global financial crisis, South Africa managed to stay on its feet. It has decent fiscal and monetary policies to support the economy. The country has a well developed banking system. It contains abundant natural resources, and proper regulations to use them. Research and development is also being encouraged recently adding power to its established manufacturing industry. Its large minerals cater to a export market and also a well established diamond trading system. It also has a huge tourism industry unlike other BRIC countries. Thus it has developed itself into a diverse economy.

Yet the country is severely reeling from problems of unemployment. Large numbers of people are still not well educated and there remain huge differences in classes of people. Income levels vary widely. While the cities are highly developed and posh, rural areas are not that better off and number of cities is very few unlike its BRIC counterparts. Although the political system is stable, there exists a great deal of corruption and development money doesn’t reach the targeted people.

South Africa has done quite something in all areas yet has not made any of the sectors its main strength, a signature quality among the BRIC countries. It has numerous problems yet is promising. It is a mixed bag of all economic qualities and yet stable.


Bitan Bhadra is a mechanical engineering student from KIIT University. His areas of interest include politics, international affairs, social systems and economics. He is optimistic of India and its future. He has previously written in many platforms on various issues. He is also an avid traveler, trekker and chess player.

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