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Economy and Statistical Overview

KwaZulu-Natal is the second largest economy in the country. It contributes around 16% towards the GDP of the country. The capital city is Pietermaritzburg. Manufacturing, trade, business services and transport communications are the largest and strong growth sectors of the provincial economy.

  • Main cities and towns: Durban, Ulundi, Eshowe, Newcastle, Richards Bay
  • Capital: Pietermaritzburg
  • Premier: Mr Willies Mchunu
  • Population: 11.1mil (2015 mid-year estimate)
  • Languages: isiZulu: 77.8%, English: 13.2%, isiXhosa: 3.4%, Afrikaans: 1.6%, Other: 4%
  • Population density: 116 people per square kilometre
  • Economically active population: 3.31 million (Q4:2015)
  • Area: 94,361 square km
  • Share of total SA area: 7.7%
  • GDPR: R610.1 billion in 2014 (current), or R480.3 billion (real)
  • Contribution to RSA GDP: 16.1% (2014)
  • GDPR growth: 2.1% (2014)
  • Per capita nominal GDPR: R55,870 (2014)
  • Gini coefficient: 0.63 (2014)
  • Gross value added (nominal): R548.82m (2014)  
  • Repo rate: 7% y/y
  • Bank Lending Rate: 10.5% y/y
  • Investment hotspots: Durban, Richard's Bay
  • CPI, Inflation: 6.1% (May 2016)
  • Nominal exchange rate (R/US$): 15.68 (March 2016)

Aluminium conversion and fabricated products, automotive components, conversion (emphasis on export-oriented investment), electronics, engineering, metal works, petrochemicals, wood and wood products.

This province offers a highly competitive advantage in capital intensive manufacturing, transport, storage and communications, as well as finance and business services. It is also well positioned in agriculture, forestry and fishing, agricultural resource-intensive manufacturing sectors; and in the tourism and accommodation sectors.



Boasting the highest export propensity and the highest level of industrialisation in the country, the economic structure in KZN is based on a large manufacturing sector in which growth is driven by the paper and paper products industry, and ferroalloys (such as aluminium) and other chemicals. Further significant subsectors include motor vehicles and component manufacture, printing and publishing, food and beverage production, non-electrical machinery, iron and steel, wood furniture, and textiles and clothing.


KwaZulu-Natal's emergence as a hub of industrial development in sub-Saharan Africa may be attributed to its unmatched natural resource endowments, exceptional productive capacity, well-developed first-world infrastructure and advantageous coastal location. Economic activity is concentrated in the metropolitan areas of Durban, Pietermaritzburg and Richards Bay, with the coastal belts utilised for sugar cane plantations and subtropical fruit and vegetables.

Two of Africa's sea ports are found in KZN, and the world class King Shaka International Airport and the Dube Trade Port, provide a key competitive advantage and ensure the province's importance for economic growth, effectively repositioning the country to increase its share of the global market.