South Africa: Honeymoon in reverse

5 min
Stephane Colliac
Stephane Colliac Senior Economist for France and Africa

After President Ramaphosa’s appointment, South Africa benefitted from a financial boost triggered by lower interest rates and a ZAR appreciation by about +15%. It added to a partial rebalancing of the economy engineered by the corporate sector during the low growth period. These cumulative forces helped reduce inflation to +3.8% y/y in March, the lowest figure in the last seven years. However, the recent oil price increase and renewed ZAR weakness (reverting it to its informal band observed before Ramaphosa’s appointment) have clouded the outlook. Retail sales lost their 2017 momentum and should remain contained in the near term as inflation is set to accelerate to above +5.5% by year-end. The mining sector was hit by new strikes (the gold output decreased by -7.8% y/y). As a result, GDP growth should now need one more year to be back to the +2% mark (forecast in 2019), and our 2018 growth forecast is revised down from +2% to +1.5%.