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South Africa's economy avoids recession with slim first-quarter growth

Banknotes bearing the image of former president Nelson Mandela, in Pretoria, South Africa, November 6, 2012.   -  
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Denis Farrell/AP

South Africa

South Africa recorded slight growth in the first quarter of 2023, shoving off the spectre of recession, according to data published on Tuesday by the national statistics agency.

Africa's most industrialized country saw its GDP grow by 0.4% in the first three months of the year, following a decline of 1.1% in the last quarter of 2022 (revised figures), StatsSA said in a statement.

"The manufacturing and financial industries were the main drivers of growth on the supply side", it detailed.

Demand was driven in particular by exports.

Growth exceeded analysts' expectations, despite the major power cuts that continue to hinder activities.

The electricity crisis in South Africa has worsened since last year, with scheduled load shedding lasting up to 12 hours a day.

Power outages are expected to reach a record 207 days in 2022, compared with 75 days in 2021.

According to estimates by the Minister of Energy, they generate more than $50 million a day in lost production.

Nevertheless, eight out of ten industrial sectors saw their activity increase in the first quarter, with only agriculture, electricity, gas and water sectors declining, according to StatsSA.

The mining sector, for its part, is back on the right foot after a disappointing end to 2022, it added.

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