Doing Business in KwaZulu-Natal

  • Economic Overview

Economic Overview

KwaZulu-Natal has the second largest economy in the country. 

It contributes some 16% towards the country's GDP. Manufacturing, trade, business services and transport communications are the largest and strongest growth sectors of the provincial economy, together with aluminium conversion, fabricated products, automotive components, conversion (emphasis on export-oriented investment), electronics, engineering, metal works, petrochemicals 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 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 KwaZulu-Natal is based on a large manufacturing sector in which growth is driven by the paper and paper products industry, ferroalloys (such as aluminium) and other chemicals. Further significant sub-sectors include motor vehicles and component manufacture, printing and publishing, food and beverage production, non-electrical machinery, iron and steel, wood furniture, 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 sub-tropical fruit and vegetables. 

Two of Africa's primary seaports are located in KwaZulu-Natal, while the world-class Dube Trade Port - home to King Shaka International Airport - 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.

Main cities and towns:

Durban, Ulundi, Eshowe, Newcastle, Richards Bay




Ms Nomusa Dube-Ncube


11.5 (mid year 2020)


isiZulu: 77.8%, English: 13.2%, isiXhosa: 3.4%, Afrikaans: 1.6%, Other: 4.0%

Population density:

119 per square kilometre

Economically active population: South Africa

15.03 million (Q4:2020)

Economically active population: KZN

2.46 million (Q4:2020)


94,361 square km

Share of total SA area:


GDPR (SA and Annualised):

R471,09 billion (Q3 2020)

KZN Contribution to RSA GDP:

15.9% (Q32020)

GDPR growth:

62.8% (Q32020)

Per capita nominal GDPR:

R66 254

Gini coefficient:

0.63 (2019)

Gross value added (constant 2010, SA Annualised):

R431,75 billion (Q3 2020)

Repo rate:

3.50 %

Bank Lending Rate:


Investment hotspots:

Durban, Richard's Bay

CPI, Inflation:

4.6 % (February 2020)

Nominal exchange rate (R/US$):

14.75 (February 2021)

Contact Details

  • Mr Sihle Ngcamu
  • Chief Executive Officer (Acting)
  • Investment Promotion
  • 1 Arundel Close, Durban, KZN, 4001
  • +27 31 368 9600
  • Contact Mr Sihle Ngcamu
  • x


  • Document 1
  • Document 2
  • Document 3