Southern AfricaSouthern Africa

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Contact at AFI team is Du Toit McLachlan
This entry was last updated on 19 September 2022 using IFs v7.63.

In this entry, we first describe the Current Path (CP) forecast for Southern Africa as it is expected to unfold to 2043, the end of the third ten-year implementation plan of the African Union’s Agenda 2063 long-term vision for Africa. 

The Current Path forecast is divided into summaries on demographics, economics, poverty, health/WaSH and climate change/energy. A second section then presents a single positive scenario for potential improvements in stability, demographics, health/WaSH, agriculture, education, manufacturing/transfers, leapfrogging, free trade, financial flows, infrastructure, governance and the impact of various scenarios on carbon emissions. With the individual impact of these sectors and dimensions having been considered, a final section presents the impact of the Combined Agenda 2063 scenario. 

We generally review the impact of each scenario and the Combined Agenda 2063 scenario on gross domestic product (GDP) per person and extreme poverty except for Health/WaSH that uses life expectancy and infant mortality. 

The information is presented graphically and supported by brief interpretive text. 

All US$ numbers are in 2017 values.

Summary

  • Current Path forecast
    • Southern Africa is the continent’s second smallest region with a population of 176.3 million people, closely followed by Central Africa with 175 million people. With about 58.3 million people in 2019, South Africa has by far the largest population in Southern Africa. In 2019, Southern Africa’s average GDP per capita (PPP) was US$6 283. Poverty is still widespread with about 44.7% of the population living below the poverty line of US$1.90. Average life expectancy in Southern Africa was 62.1 years in 2019, the lowest on the continent together with Central Africa. Jump to forecast: Current Path
    • Southern Africa is projected to keep recording fast population growth with its population increasing by more than 53% from 2019 to 2043, and reaching 270.2 million people by 2043. The region will also continue on its path of urbanisation with 53.3% of its population living in cities and towns by 2043. Jump to Demographics: Current Path
    • Robust economic growth is expected in Southern Africa with its GDP (MER) growing from US$678 billion in 2019 to US$1 257.9 billion in 2043 — an increase of 85.5% and an increase in its GDP per capita from US$6 283 in 2019 to US$7 323 by 2043. Jump to Economics: Current Path
    • The poverty rate in Southern Africa is projected to decrease by about 13 percentage points from 44.7% in 2019 to 31.7% in 2043, although the number of people living below the US$1.90 poverty line is forecast to increase from 78.8 million to 81.2 million. Jump to Poverty: Current Path
  • Sectoral scenarios
    • The Stability scenario models improvement in the current average level of stability in Southern Africa and has the potential to reduce the region’s poverty rate from 44.7% in 2019 to 30.2% in 2043, compared to 31.7% in the Current Path forecast. Jump to Stability scenario
    • The interventions in the Demographic scenario will lower Southern Africa’s total fertility rate from 3.6 births per woman in 2019 to 2.1 by 2043 compared to 2.6 births in the Current Path forecast, thereby prolonging the window of opportunity to experience a demographic dividend. Jump to Demographic scenario
    • The Health/WaSH scenario has the potential to increase life expectancy in Southern Africa from 62.1 years in 2019 to 69.9 years in 2043 compared to 68.9 years in the Current Path forecast. Jump to Health/WaSH scenario
    • The Agriculture scenario has the biggest impact on poverty reduction, pushing the poverty rate down to 25.9% compared to 31.7% and also reducing import dependence to 7.3% compared to 29.6% in the Current Path forecast by 2043. The Agriculture scenario will translate into an increase in GDP per capita of US$273 compared to the Current Path forecast by 2043. Jump to Agriculture scenario
    • The Education scenario only translates into a modest increase in Southern Africa’s average GDP per capita: US$7 549 compared to US$7 323 in the Current Path forecast in 2043, with the impact greatest in Seychelles (US$741), Botswana (US$687), Eswatini (US$610) and Mauritius (US$589). Jump to Education scenario
    • In the Manufacturing/Transfers scenario, the manufacturing sector is projected to experience the largest percentage point gain in terms of its relative contribution to GDP, followed by the service sector. Jump to Manufacturing/Transfers scenario
    • The Leapfrogging scenario will accelerate access to electricity and push access rates from 46.9% in 2019 to 78.6% by 2043 compared to 65.6% in the Current Path forecast. Jump to Leapfrogging scenario
    • In the Free Trade scenario, GDP per capita is expected to increase from US$6 283 in 2019 to US$8 020 compared to US$7 323 in the Current Path forecast. Jump to Free Trade scenario
    • In the Financial Flows scenario, FDI inflows are set to account for 4.7% of GDP compared to 3.9% in the Current Path forecast by 2043. Jump to Financial Flows scenario
    • The Infrastructure scenario will improve electricity access rates from 46.9% in 2019 to 71.2% in 2043 compared to 65.6% in the Current Path forecast. Jump to Infrastructure scenario
    • In the Governance scenario, the share of the population living below the poverty line can be reduced to 30.7% by 2043 compared to 31.7% in the Current Path forecast. Jump to Governance scenario
    • In 2019, South Africa was by far the largest carbon emitter in Southern Africa. Looking to 2043, the Free Trade scenario is the most carbon-intensive scenario for Southern Africa. Jump to Impact of scenarios on carbon emissions
  • Combined Agenda 2063 scenario
    • In the Combined Agenda 2063 scenario, carbon emissions will increase from 149 million tons in 2019 to 196 million tons in 2043 compared to 164 million tons in the Current Path forecast. Southern Africa will be brought closer to eliminating extreme poverty by 2043: 12.7% of the population, or 32.5 million people, are expected to live below the US$1.90 poverty line compared to 31.7%, or 81.2 million people, in the Current Path forecast. The region will have an economy valued at US$15 283.2 billion by 2043, which is about 12 times larger than the Current Path forecast. Jump to Combined Agenda 2063 scenario

All charts for Southern Africa

Chart 1: Political map of Southern Africa
Chart
Southern Africa: Current Path forecast

Southern Africa: Current Path forecast

This page provides an overview of the key characteristics of Southern Africa along its likely (or Current Path) development trajectory. The Current Path forecast from the International Futures forecasting (IFs) platform is a dynamic scenario that imitates the continuation of current policies and environmental conditions. The Current Path is therefore in congruence with historical patterns and produces a series of dynamic forecasts endogenised in relationships across crucial global systems. We use 2019 as a standard reference year and the forecasts generally extend to 2043 to coincide with the end of the third ten-year implementation plan of the African Union’s Agenda 2063 long-term development vision.

Southern Africa is the southernmost subregion of the African continent, south of the Congo and Tanzania. With a population of about 176.3 million people, the region is the second smallest on the continent. Southern Africa comprises 12 countries: Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. The 12 countries of Southern Africa are members of the Southern African Development Community (SADC). Eswatini, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Seychelles, Zambia and Zimbabwe are also members of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA). Seychelles is classified as a high-income economy; Botswana, South Africa and Namibia as upper middle-income economies; Eswatini, Zambia, Lesotho and Zimbabwe as lower middle-income economies; and Mozambique, Malawi and Madagascar as low-income economies. With about 58.3 million people in 2019, South Africa has by far the largest population in Southern Africa.

The climates in Southern Africa are seasonal, ranging from arid to semi-arid and from temperate to tropical. The seasonality is an important control on plant growth and a regulator of river flows. Droughts are common in much of the region. Four main types of vegetation are found: savanna woodlands in the north; a series of dry woodlands to the south; arid and semi-arid grassland, scrubland, and bushland in the Namib and Kalahari deserts and their environs; and Mediterranean vegetation along the southern coast.[1SE Marks, Southern Africa, Britannica]

Southern Africa is home to a number of river systems. The largest rivers are the Zambezi and the Limpopo. The Zambezi is the longest river in the region, and its catchment includes much of Zambia, and Zimbabwe and it flows into the Indian Ocean on the coast of Mozambique. The only major river flowing into the Atlantic Ocean is the Orange, which flows through parts of Lesotho, South Africa and Namibia.

Overall, many structural challenges to development persist. Those include poor infrastructure connectivity, especially in transport and power; persistent non-tariff barriers to trade; insufficient economic diversification, poorly implemented regional agreements; and weak capacity within the regional economic institutions. Even in the faster growing economies, inclusive growth remains a challenge and inequality persistently hampers poverty reduction efforts.

Chart 1: Political map of Southern Africa
Chart
Demographics: Current Path

Demographics: Current Path

Southern Africa has a relatively young and growing population although the differences across countries are significant and reflective of the variety in levels of GDP per capita and overall development. Coming from a baseline of about 95.6 million people in 1990, by 2019 the region’s population had increased by more than 84% to 176.3 million people. Over the coming two decades, Southern Africa’s population is expected to reach 270.2 million people. Population growth in Southern Africa is mostly driven by natural population growth — in other words, births outstripping deaths.

Southern Africa’s population is young, albeit older than in the rest of sub-Saharan Africa. The region’s median age is 21.6 years compared to 18.6 years in East Africa, and 18.2 and 17.2 years in West Africa and Central Africa, respectively. Only North Africa has a higher median of 26.7 years. In 2019, in Southern Africa 38% of the population were under 15 years old, down from 44% in 1990. In the Current Path forecast, Southern Africa’s demographic structure is expected to continue to change. By 2043, only 31% of the population is forecast to be under 15 years old, down by 7 percentage points. The share of the age cohort between 31 and 65 years is expected to increase from 30% of the total population in 2019 to 37% of the region’s population.

In 2019, average total fertility in Southern Africa stood at 3.6 births per woman. By 2043, it is expected to drop to 2.6 births per woman. However, it needs to be noted that the spectrum across countries is extremely broad, reflecting the significant differences in GDP per capita and overall level of development. In Mozambique, Zambia and Malawi, total fertility rates are as high as 4.8, 4.7 and 4.2 births per woman, respectively. In high-income Mauritius, on the other hand, the population is shrinking at a total fertility rate of 1.4 in 2019 compared to 2.3 births in Seychelles, which is just over replacement level. South Africa had an average total fertility rate of 2.4 births per woman. The higher the fertility rate, the younger the population. Therefore, within Southern Africa, Zambia, Mozambique and Malawi have the youngest populations with median ages that do not even reach 18 years (17.3, 17.5 and 17.9 years, respectively). Mauritius and Seychelles, on the other extreme end of the spectrum, have median ages of 37.2 and 34.1 years, respectively. With a median age of 27.44 years, South Africa has the third oldest population in Southern Africa.

In 2019, Southern Africa’s average life expectancy was 62.1 years. By 2043, the life expectancy of the average Southern African is expected to increase by 6.8 years to 68.9 years. Within Southern Africa, the picture is again very heterogeneous. In 2019, Mauritius has the highest life expectancy, at 75.2 years, followed by Seychelles at 73.6 years. Average life expectancy in Lesotho, however, at 51.9 years is more than ten years lower than the regional average. At 59.2 years, Eswatini has the second lowest average life expectancy in Southern Africa. The exceptionally low average life expectancy in Lesotho and Eswatini is due to the high death rates from HIV/AIDS, 0.4 and 0.3 deaths per 1 000 people, respectively. South Africa also has a high HIV/AIDS death rate but generally better access to healthcare and treatment for HIV/AIDS in particular has helped to combat the disease.[2S Naidu and B Roberts, Confronting the Region: A Profile of Southern Africa, Cape Town: HSRC 2005, 30.]

With 4.5 deaths per 1 000 people in 2019, Southern Africa’s communicable disease burden is the third lowest on the continent, although North Africa’s is 9 times lower. West Africa and Central Africa have communicable disease burdens of 5 and 4.8 deaths per 1 000 people, respectively, and East Africa has a rate of 3.2 deaths from communicable diseases per 1 000 people. Overall, the HIV/AIDS pandemic has placed an exceptionally high toll on life expectancy in Southern Africa. Currently, many countries in the region are already facing the full weight of the double burden of disease, these being high mortality rates from both communicable and non-communicable diseases. By 2025, the death rate for the latter will be about the same as for communicable diseases in Southern Africa: 3.7 deaths per 1 000 people.

Increases in life expectancy will boost Southern Africa’s workforce. By 2043, the region’s working-age population is expected to account for about 63.8% of the population compared to 58.5% in 2019. Indeed, the ratio of people of working age relative to the dependant population is improving. In the Current Path forecast, Southern Africa is expected to enter its demographic ‘sweet spot’ by 2035.

In 2019, 45.7% of Southern Africans lived in cities and towns while 54.3% lived in rural areas. In comparison, urbanisation rates in West Africa and Central Africa were 46.6% and 49.9% respectively. North Africa is the most urbanised region on the continent with 55.9% of its population living in urban areas while in East Africa only 26.8% of the population is urban. Southern Africa will become even more urbanised in the future. By 2043, 53.3% of Southern Africans are expected to live in urban areas compared to 56.7% of West Africans. Typically, the rate of urbanisation is higher in the countries with higher GDP per capita. It is also aligned with the stages of the demographic transition. Within Southern Africa, Malawi is the least urbanised with only 17.1% of its population living in urban areas. Botswana and South Africa, on the other hand, are the most urbanised countries with urbanisation rates as high as 68.6 and 67.3%, respectively.

Even though urbanisation is often associated with increases in productivity and ultimately economic growth, urbanisation on the continent does not necessarily follow this pattern. In fact, in Southern Africa rapid urbanisation is a significant driver of ‘localised depletion of natural resources and discharge of unprocessed waste into the environment.’[3S Naidu and B Roberts, Confronting the Region: A Profile of Southern Africa, Cape Town: HSRC 2005, 37.] Further, municipalities struggle to keep up with the massively increased demand for essential infrastructure needs, including housing, roads, piped water, sanitation and waste disposal. Lastly, the demand for health and education services and facilities is also outpacing supply.[4S Naidu and B Roberts, Confronting the Region: A Profile of Southern Africa, Cape Town: HSRC 2005, 37.]

Southern Africa’s population of about 176.3 million people, in 2019, is unevenly distributed across the countries of the region. With about 58.3 million people, South Africa has the largest population in the region, followed by Mozambique with a population of 30.3 million people. Together, the two countries account for just over 50% of Southern Africa’s population. Madagascar is the third largest country with a population of about 26.8 million people. Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe have populations below 20 million; and Namibia, Botswana, Lesotho, Mauritius and Eswatini below 3 million. Seychelles is a small island country with only 0.1 million inhabitants. The countries of Southern Africa also differ significantly when it comes to population density. In Mauritius, for example, population density is the highest with 6.3 people per hectare in 2019. Namibia, on the other extreme of the spectrum, had a population density of 0.03 people per hectare in 2019, closely followed by Botswana. South Africa has a population density of 0.5 people per hectare. Southern Africa is the third most densely populated region on the continent, preceded by West Africa and East Africa with average population densities of 0.78 and 0.63 people per hectare, respectively.

Chart 4: Population density map for 2019
Chart 4: Population density map for 2019
Source: Source goes here
Economics: Current Path

Economics: Current Path

Between 1990 and 2019, Southern Africa’s GDP more than doubled from US$324 billion to US$678 billion. In 2019, Southern Africa had the third highest GDP on the continent, following North Africa with a GDP of US$900.3 billion and West Africa with a GDP of US$816.4 billion. Both East Africa’s and Central Africa’s GDPs were lower. In 2043, the region is forecast to have the second lowest GDP on the continent at a value of US$1 257.9 billion, almost twice as large as in 2019. The Southern African economy will follow West Africa’s, North Africa’s and East Africa’s economies that are forecast to rank first, second and third, respectively.

Within Southern Africa, the sizes of the economies are heterogeneous. South Africa alone, with an economy valued at US$503.7 billion, accounts for 74.2% of the regional economy. The next largest, even if significantly smaller, economies are Zambia at US$35.4 billion, Mozambique at US$23.5 billion and Botswana at US$23 billion. Seychelles, on the other hand, is Southern Africa’s smallest economy valued at US$1.6 billion.

Although many of the charts in the sectoral scenarios also include GDP per capita, this overview is an essential point of departure for interpreting the general economic outlook of Southern Africa.

In 2019, Southern Africa’s GDP average per capita was US$6 283. In the Current Path forecast, average per capita income is expected to increase to US$7 323 by 2043. Southern Africa has an economy in each of the World Bank’s income categories. This explains why the range of GDP per capita income is so broad with Seychelles, Africa’s only high-income country, having the highest GDP per capita at US$30 673, essentially almost 24 times Malawi’s GDP per capita, which at US$1 288 is the lowest in the region in 2019. Mauritius had the second highest GDP per capita at US$23 784, followed by Botswana at US$18 138. South Africa has a GDP per capita of US$13 080. At the low end of the scale, both Mozambique and Madagascar had GDP per capita below US$2 000.

In 2019, Southern Africa’s GDP per capita was the second highest on the continent but less than half of North Africa’s average GDP per capita which stood at US$13 113. West Africa, Central Africa and East Africa came third, fourth and fifth, respectively. In the Current Path forecast, average GDP per capita in Southern Africa will reach US$7 323 by 2043, and remain the second highest on the continent, closely followed by West Africa.

In 2019, Southern Africa’s informal sector equated to 17.3% of GDP. By 2043, the region’s informal sector is forecast to account for 19.9% of GDP. Within Southern Africa, Zimbabwe has the largest informal sector accounting for 52.8% of GDP, followed by Malawi with an informal sector that accounts for 34.6% of GDP. Mauritius and Seychelles, on the other hand, have much smaller informal sectors representing 8.6% and 9.7% of GDP, respectively. In South Africa, the informal sector accounts for 13% of GDP. Overall, the higher the GDP per capita, the smaller the informal sector relative to the country’s GDP. Interestingly, South Africa’s informal sector is the only one that is expected to become larger as a share of GDP and reach 16.1% by 2043.

The IFs platform uses data from the Global Trade and Analysis Project (GTAP) to classify economic activity into six sectors: agriculture, energy, materials (including mining), manufacturing, services and information and communication technologies (ICT). Most other sources use a threefold distinction between only agriculture, industry and services with the result that data may differ.

In 2019, Southern Africa’s service sector accounted for 58.5% of the region’s GDP, followed by the manufacturing sector which represented about 20.7% and the materials sector at 5.8%. The agriculture sector only accounted for 4.4% of GDP in 2019. In the future, the service sector is expected to remain the most important contributor to Southern Africa’s GDP although its share is set to drop to 55.5% by 2043. At the same time, the contribution of the manufacturing sector is forecast to gain 2 percentage points and reach 22.7% of GDP. The contribution of the materials sector to GDP is also forecast to increase by about 2.6 percentage points to 8.4% in 2043. In 2019, the contribution of the ICT sector accounted for 5.4% of Southern Africa’s GDP and is expected to represent 5.6% of GDP in 2043. The importance of the energy sector is set to remain fairly stable as well, accounting for 5.2% of GDP in 2019 and 5% in 2043. The share of the agriculture sector, on the other hand, is going to drop from 4.4% in 2019 to 2.9% in 2043.

In absolute terms, all sectors of the Southern African economy are going to grow. In 2019, the service sector was worth US$396.3 billion. By 2043, it will be 76% larger and worth US$697.7 billion. The manufacturing sector will more than double in size from being worth US$140 billion in 2019 to US$285.1 billion in 2043, and materials is set to experience a large expansion from being worth US$39.4 billion to US$105.2 billion — an increase of 167%. The value of the energy sector will also almost double from US$35.6 billion to US$70.7 billion.

In 2019, Southern Africa had the largest service sector on the continent measured as a share of GDP and the second largest in absolute terms. At a volume of US$426.1 billion, West Africa had the largest service sector on the continent and the second largest as a share of GDP. North Africa had the smallest service sector as a share of GDP but the third largest in absolute terms (US$399.8 billion). By 2043, Southern Africa’s service sector is forecast to be worth US$697.7 billion. It will be significantly smaller than West Africa’s and East Africa’s service sectors, which will be worth US$1 688.4 billion and US$1 003.3 billion, respectively.

Within Southern Africa, in Seychelles the service sector accounted for 78% of GDP and for 69.7% of GDP in Mauritius in 2019. In Eswatini and in Mozambique, on the other extreme of the spectrum, the service sector only accounted for 45.8% and 46.1% of GDP in 2019, respectively. Manufacturing accounted for 35.3% of GDP in Eswatini, the largest share in the region, but only 10.3% in Seychelles.

The data on agricultural production and demand in the IFs forecasting platform initialises from data provided on food balances by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). IFs contains data on numerous types of agriculture but aggregates its forecast into crops, meat and fish, presented in million metric tons. Chart 9 shows agricultural production and demand as a total of all three categories.

In 2019, Southern Africa’s agricultural production amounted to about 161.4 million tons, just short of 6.3 million tons to match demand at 167.7 million tons. Going forward, this gap will widen. By 2043, it will be as large as 84.8 million tons, more than 13 times as large as in 2019. Total production will be up to 200.1 million tons, while demand will be 284.9 million tons.

Southern Africa is the second largest agricultural producer after West Africa with an output of 380.5 million tons in 2019. West Africa is set to experience an even greater gap between agricultural production and demand than Southern Africa by 2043.

Within Southern Africa, the largest agricultural producers are South Africa, Malawi and Mozambique. In 2019, South Africa produced 64.1 million tons, close to 40% of regional production. Malawi and Mozambique are the next largest agricultural producers 25.7 million and 21.6 million tons, respectively. Together, the three countries account for almost 70% of Southern Africa’s agricultural production.

Poverty: Current Path

Poverty: Current Path

There are numerous methodologies for and approaches to defining poverty. We measure income poverty and use GDP per capita as a proxy. In 2015, the World Bank adopted the measure of US$1.90 per person per day (in 2011 international prices), also used to measure progress towards the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 1 of eradicating extreme poverty. To account for extreme poverty in richer countries occurring at slightly higher levels of income than in poor countries, the World Bank introduced three additional poverty lines in 2017:

  • US$3.20 for lower middle-income countries 
  • US$5.50 for upper middle-income countries
  • US$22.70 for high-income countries.

In 2019, 44.7% of the population was living below the US$1.90 poverty line, which corresponded to 78.8 million people. Southern Africa has the second highest poverty rate on the continent, following Central Africa, which has the highest. In the Current Path forecast, the number of Southern Africans living in extreme poverty will increase to 81.2 million people by 2043, although the region’s poverty rate is projected to decline to 31.7% by then.

Within Southern Africa, poverty rates vary greatly between countries. Madagascar, Mozambique, Malawi and Zambia all had more than 50% of their population living in extreme poverty in 2019, while extreme poverty does not exist in Mauritius or Seychelles.

Carbon Emissions/Energy: Current Path

Carbon Emissions/Energy: Current Path

The IFs platform forecasts six types of energy, namely oil, gas, coal, hydro, nuclear and other renewables. To allow comparisons between different types of energy, the data is converted into billion barrels of oil equivalent (BBOE). The energy contained in a barrel of oil is approximately 5.8 million British thermal units (MBTUs) or 1 700 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of energy.

In 2019, Southern Africa’s total energy production was about 1 271 million barrels of oil equivalent. By 2043, it is estimated to increase to 1 882 million barrels. The region’s current energy mix is dominated by coal, which accounted for 88% of total production in 2019. Coal was followed by gas at 5%, hydro at 3%, nuclear at 2% and other renewables at 1% of total production.

In the Current Path forecast, coal will continue to be dominant but there will be a significant shift in the energy mix towards a heavier reliance on gas. Coal is set to account for 55% of total energy production by 2043 and gas for 22%. Hydro is forecast to increase its share from 3% to 6% of total production, and renewables will see an increase by 14 percentage points by 2043. Nuclear is set to remain stable.

South Africa alone accounts for the lion’s share, this is more than 80% of Southern Africa’s energy production in the region. In 2019, the country produced the equivalent of 1 046 million barrels of oil. In the Current Path forecast, South Africa will produce the equivalent of 1 167 million barrels of oil by 2043. Coal will still dominate the country’s energy mix, but by then only represent 73% of total energy production compared to 96% in 2019. Other renewables will have gained ground, accounting for 24% of total energy production by 2043.

Carbon is released in many ways, but the three most important contributors to greenhouse gases are carbon dioxide (CO2), carbon monoxide (CO) and methane (CH4). Since each has a different molecular weight, IFs uses carbon. Many other sites and calculations use CO2 equivalent.

Southern Africa’s carbon emissions were 149 million tons of carbon in 2019. They are forecast to increase by 10% to 164 million tons by 2043. In 2019, Southern Africa was the second largest carbon emitter in Africa, following North Africa which emitted about 169 million tons of carbon. Within Southern Africa, South Africa is by far the greatest emitter at 132.1 million tons, accounting for more than 88% of regional carbon emissions. South Africa is followed at a great distance by Zimbabwe and Mozambique which emitted 4 million and 3 million tons, respectively, in 2019. Seychelles was the smallest carbon emitter in 2019 at 0.2 million tons.

Stability scenario

Stability scenario

The Stability scenario represents reasonable but ambitious reductions in the risk of regime instability and lower levels of internal conflict. Stability is generally a prerequisite for other aspects of development and this would encourage inflows of foreign direct investment (FDI) and improve business confidence. Better governance through the accountability that follows substantive democracy is modelled separately.

The intervention is explained here in the thematic part of the website.

The Stability scenario reflects significant interventions, including increasing regime stability, lowering levels of internal conflict, improving gender empowerment and addressing high levels of corruption.
In 2019, Southern Africa scored 0.69 on the governance security index, essentially on par with West Africa but higher than East Africa or Central Africa that scored 0.67 and 0.6, respectively. The average score for North Africa was 0.76. In the Stability scenario, governance security in Southern Africa is projected to improve to a score of 0.84 by 2043 compared to 0.75 in the Current Path forecast.

Within Southern Africa, Eswatini and Lesotho have the lowest scores and Mauritius and Seychelles the highest. By 2043, the Stability scenario will improve governance security the most in Madagascar, followed by Mozambique and Zambia and the least in Seychelles and Mauritius.

In 2019, Southern Africa’s GDP per capita was US$6 283. The Stability scenario can lead to a higher GDP per capita of US$7 537 by 2043 compared to the Current Path forecast of US$7 323.

The Stability scenario has the potential to reduce the number of people living in extreme poverty by 3.8 million people compared to the Current Path forecast (77.4 million compared to 81.2 million by 2043).

In the Stability scenario, Southern Africa’s poverty rate could drop from 44.7% in 2019 to 30.2% in 2043 compared to 31.7% in the Current Path forecast. In other words, with the interventions included in the Stability scenario, Southern Africa could speed up its poverty reduction efforts even if not by a great margin. The impact of the intervention will naturally vary across the region. In Madagascar, for example, an additional 1.5 million people could be lifted out of poverty as a result of the Stability scenario in 2043 compared to the Current Path forecast.

Demographic scenario

Demographic scenario

This section presents the impact of a Demographic scenario that aims to hasten and increase the demographic dividend through reasonable but ambitious reductions in the communicable-disease burden for children under five, the maternal mortality ratio and increased access to modern contraception. 

The intervention is explained here in the thematic part of the website.

Demographers typically differentiate between a first, second and even a third demographic dividend. We focus here on the contribution of the size of the labour force (between 15 and 64 years of age) relative to dependants (children and the elderly) as part of the first dividend. A window of opportunity opens when the ratio of the working-age population to dependants is equal to or surpasses 1.7.

Increasing access to modern contraception will bring down Southern Africa’s total fertility rate more quickly than in the Current Path forecast: from 3.6 births per woman in 2019 to 2.1 in 2043 compared to 2.6 births in the Current Path forecast. Lowering the total fertility rate more quickly than in the Current Path forecast would slow down Southern Africa’s population growth and bring about a faster change in the population age structure. The latter will result in a more favourable ratio between people of working age and dependants, especially children. With the interventions in the Demographic scenario, Southern Africa has the potential to accelerate its demographic transition by increasing the ratio of workers to dependants from 1.4 to 1 in 2019 to 2 in 2043 compared to 1.8 in the Current Path forecast.

Within Southern Africa, in 2019 the spectrum for total fertility ranged from 4.8 births per woman in Mozambique to 1.4 births per woman in Mauritius. Other than Mozambique, low-income Zambia, Malawi and Madagascar also had average total fertility rates surpassing 4 births per woman in 2019. After Mauritius, Seychelles and South Africa had the lowest fertility rates at 2.3 and 2.4 births per woman, respectively, in 2019.

The infant mortality rate is the number of infant deaths per 1 000 live births and is an important marker of the overall quality of the health system in a country.

At 43.1 infant deaths per 1 000 live births in 2019, infant mortality in Southern Africa is high, although it has halved since 1990 when it stood at a rate of 86.6. West Africa, however, has even higher infant mortality at 58.6 infant deaths per 1 000 live births. By 2043, Southern Africa’s infant mortality rate will drop by more than 40% to 24.8 infant deaths per 1 000 live births in the Current Path forecast.

The interventions in the Demographic scenario could reduce the rate by an additional 5.1 deaths per 1 000 live births. Within Southern Africa, Madagascar will by far gain the most from the Demographic scenario by 2043, reducing infant mortality rates by an additional 9.3 deaths per 1 000 live births compared to the Current Path forecast. Zimbabwe and Lesotho also stand to make significant gains from the interventions in the Demographic scenario, with reductions of 5.5 and 5 deaths per 1 000 live births, respectively, compared to the Current Path forecast.

In 2019, Southern Africa’s average GDP per capita was US$6 283. By 2043, the Demographic scenario could push it to US$7 639 compared to US$7 323 in the Current Path forecast. The additional gains in GDP per capita as a result of the Demographic scenario accrue from the benefits of the demographic dividend that Southern Africa is set to reap earlier than in the Current Path forecast.

Compared to the Current Path forecast, the Demographic scenario could reduce the number of people living in extreme poverty by 5.7 million people in 2043. An expected total of 75.5 million people, or 29.5% of the population, would be living below the poverty line by 2043 compared to 31.7% in the Current Path forecast.

Health/WaSH scenario

Health/WaSH scenario

This section presents reasonable but ambitious improvements in the Health/WaSH scenario, which include reductions in the mortality rate associated with both communicable diseases (e.g. AIDS, diarrhoea, malaria and respiratory infections) and non-communicable diseases (NCDs) (e.g. diabetes), as well as improvements in access to safe water and better sanitation. The acronym WaSH stands for water, sanitation and hygiene.

The intervention is explained here in the thematic part of the website.

The Health/WaSH scenario has the potential to increase life expectancy in Southern Africa from 62 years in 2019 to 69.9 years in 2043 compared to 68.9 years in the Current Path forecast. Southern Africa has together with Central Africa the lowest life expectancy in Africa. At 74.5 years, North Africa has the highest life expectancy on the continent. The average Southern and Central African lives almost 4 years fewer than the average Eastern African. Of course, the picture varies across countries, and average life expectancy within Southern Africa ranges from 75.2 years in Mauritius to only 51.9 in Lesotho. This gap of 23.3 years can be reduced to 16.5 years in the Health/WaSH scenario compared to 17.5 years in the Current Path forecast.

The Health/WaSH scenario would have a positive impact on Southern Africa’s infant mortality rate. The rate will drop from 43.1 in 2019 to 21.7 deaths per 1 000 live births in 2043 compared to 24.8 deaths in the Current Path forecast.

Agriculture scenario

Agriculture scenario

The Agriculture scenario represents reasonable but ambitious increases in yields per hectare (reflecting better management and seed and fertiliser technology), increased land under irrigation and reduced loss and waste. Where appropriate, it includes an increase in calorie consumption, reflecting the prioritisation of food self-sufficiency above food exports as a desirable policy objective.

The intervention is explained here in the thematic part of the website.

The data on yield per hectare (in metric tons) is for crops but does not distinguish between different categories of crops.

In 2019, crop yields in Southern Africa stood at 4.5 metric tons per hectare. According to the Current Path forecast, by 2043 they will modestly increase to 5 metric tons per hectare. In the Agriculture scenario, on the other hand, yields could increase by more than 60% over the same time period and reach 7.3 metric tons per hectare.
Again, the region is very heterogeneous when it comes to agricultural productivity. Crop yields per hectare range from 62.3 metric tons and 43.8 metric tons per hectare in the outliers Mauritius and Eswatini to 1.5 metric tons per hectare in Botswana and Namibia.

Southern Africa performs second best on agricultural productivity measured in crop yields per hectare on the continent, followed by West Africa. North Africa performs the best at 6.5 metric tons per hectare and Central Africa the worst with 3 metric tons per hectare. In the Agriculture scenario, Southern Africa will continue to rank second for agricultural productivity out of Africa’s five regions.[5ASARECA, The Southern African Agricultural Productivity Programme (EAAPP)]

In 2019, net imports accounted for 4.5% of Southern Africa’s agricultural demand. In the Current Path forecast, agricultural demand is increasingly outpacing production which will lead to a dramatic increase in import dependence and food insecurity, which is a concern in Southern Africa. Net imports are expected to account for 30.2% of agricultural demand by 2043. The Agriculture scenario has the potential to increase production and reduce import dependence to meet the rapid increase in demand fuelled by population growth. In that scenario, import dependence in Southern Africa is forecast to stand at 7.2% of agricultural demand.

Within Southern Africa, agricultural import dependence varies a lot among countries. Seychelles, for example, required almost 64% of net imports to cover agricultural demand in 2019, but the country is an outlier together with Lesotho and Botswana where import dependence stood at 57.6% and 51.2%, respectively. The remaining countries were less dependent on agricultural imports, and Eswatini and Zambia had a slight surplus in production, not having to rely on any imports to cover agricultural demand.

The Agriculture scenario is expected to push Southern Africa’s GDP per capita to US$7 596 by 2043 compared to the Current Path forecast of US$7 323. On a country level, Malawi will see the largest percentage increase in its GDP per capita by 2043 compared to the Current Path forecast, with its average income rising to US$4 501. Seychelles will see the smallest increase, of 9.1%, due to its GDP per capita already being the highest in Africa by 2019.

The impact of the interventions in the Agriculture scenario on poverty in Southern Africa is significant. It implies an important reduction in the share of the population living below the poverty line by 2043: 25.9% of the population will live below the poverty line instead of 31.7% in the Current Path forecast. The Agriculture scenario has the potential to prevent about 14.8 million people falling into poverty by 2043 — the anticipated total being 66.4 million people compared to 81.2 million in the Current Path forecast.

Education scenario

Education scenario

The Education scenario represents reasonable but ambitious improved intake, transition and graduation rates from primary to tertiary levels and better quality of education. It also models substantive progress towards gender parity at all levels, additional vocational training at secondary school level and increases in the share of science and engineering graduates.

The intervention is explained here in the thematic part of the website.

Education is key to development but improvements in education typically take a long time to show results. With a mean of 5.2 years of education among the adult population in 2019, Southern Africa’s educational outcomes are above the average for sub-Saharan Africa which had a mean of 6 years in 2019. Women have received, on average, 7 years of education and men have received 7.4 years. In the Education scenario, Southern Africa’s mean years of education will increase to 8.2 years in 2043 (8.2 for women and 8.3 for men). This represents an improvement of 0.2 years compared to the Current Path forecast of 8 years over the same time period. Male education outcomes would still be better than those for female education but the gender gap would have nearly been closed.

Within Southern Africa, country performances vary from a mean of over 10 years in Botswana and South Africa to a mean as low as 3.4 years in Mozambique, preceded by Malawi and Madagascar with means of 5.2 years. In other words, the average citizen from Botswana spends three times the time that the average person from Mozambique spends in school. In the education scenario, the gap between the best and the worst performer reduces to 5 years compared to 6.6 years in the Current Path forecast by 2043.

In 2019, Southern Africa’s primary test score was 35.1, significantly above the average score of 30.9 for sub-Saharan Africa. According to the Current Path forecast, Southern Africa’s performance will improve to 35.8 in 2043 compared to 32.7 for sub-Saharan Africa. The Education scenario is expected to accelerate improvements, pushing average test scores for primary learners in Southern Africa to 41.6 by 2043 — an increase of 5.8 points compared to the Current Path forecast for 2043.

In low-income Mozambique, the country with the worst educational outcomes in Southern Africa, the primary test score was 30.6 in 2019, just slightly below the average for sub-Saharan Africa. In the Education scenario, that score could improve to 38.9 which represents greater improvement than for the region as a whole (8.3 compared to 5.8 points).

In the Education scenario, the test score for Southern Africa at the secondary level could increase by almost 10 points from 37.8 in 2019 to 47.4 by 2043 compared to 39.8 in the Current Path forecast. In both scenarios, Southern Africa will perform above the average for sub-Saharan African.

By 2043, Southern Africa’s GDP per capita will increase to US$7 323 in the Current Path forecast compared to US$7 549 in the Education scenario, a difference of US$226. Malawi will be the only Southern African country to see an increase above 5% in its average income by 2043, compared to the Current Path forecast. The smallest increases will come from those countries who already have high GDP per capita figures, such as Mauritius, Seychelles and South Africa.

In the Education scenario, it is expected that 29.7% of Southern Africa’s population will live in extreme poverty by 2043, compared to 31.7% in the Current Path forecast. This translates to a projected total of 76.2 million poor people in 2043 compared to 81.2 million in the Current Path forecast, or 5 million people escaping extreme poverty.

Manufacturing/transfers scenario

Manufacturing/transfers scenario

The Manufacturing/Transfers scenario represents reasonable but ambitious manufacturing growth through greater investment in the economy, investments in research and development, and promotion of the export of manufactured goods. It is accompanied by an increase in welfare transfers (social grants) to moderate the initial increases in inequality that are typically associated with a manufacturing transition. To this end, the scenario improves tax administration and increases government revenues.

The intervention is explained here in the thematic part of the website.

Chart 30 should be read with Chart 8 that presents a stacked area graph on the contribution to GDP and size, in billion US$, of the Current Path economy for each of the sectors.

In the Manufacturing/Transfers scenario, the manufacturing sector will experience the largest gain in terms of its relative contribution to GDP compared to the Current Path forecast. Its contribution is expected to have increased by 0.32 percentage points by 2043 after having reached a peak of an additional 0.65 percentage points around 2038. The manufacturing sector is followed by the service sector with an increase of 0.22 percentage points in its relative contribution to GDP. The ICT sector is set to make a modest gain of 0.05 percentage points. The agriculture sector is forecast to drop in importance losing 0.2 percentage points relative to the Current Path forecast, and materials and energy are set to lose 0.1 and 0.3 percentage points relative to the Current Path forecast, respectively.

The value of Southern Africa’s service sector could be US$61.1 billion larger in the Manufacturing/Transfers scenario compared to the Current Path forecast. The manufacturing sector could contribute an extra US$28 million in this scenario, followed by the materials and ICT sectors at additional US$7.2 million and US$6.6 million, respectively.

In the Manufacturing/Transfers scenario, government to household welfare transfers are forecast to increase from US$116.2 billion in 2019 to US$166.3 billion in 2043 compared to US$135.9 billion in the Current Path forecast. In other words, social transfers would be more than 80% larger than in the Current Path forecast. Compared to the Current Path forecast, additional gains in welfare transfers (as a percentage of GDP) in the Manufacturing/Transfers scenario by 2043 range from an increase of 18 percentage points in Malawi to 0.5 percentage points in Seychelles. South Africa is the only country that would see welfare transfers decline (by 9.3 percentage points).

Southern Africa’s GDP per capita is expected to grow to US$7 748 in the Manufacturing/Transfers scenario compared to US$7 323 in the Current Path forecast. Malawi will benefit greatly from a focus on improving its manufacturing sector, as its GDP per capita rises by 10% compared to the Current Path forecast by 2043 to reach US$4 450. Namibia and Madagascar will see increases above 8%, while Mozambique will not see much growth, with its average income rising by less than 3%.

The Manufacturing/Transfers scenario has the potential to reduce the share of the population living in extreme poverty from 44.7% in 2019 to 29.1% in 2043 compared to 31.7% in the Current Path forecast. This is a 2.6 percentage point improvement that translates to about 6.6 million people escaping poverty in 2043 via the interventions in the Manufacturing/Transfers scenario. Malawi and Namibia will see significant reductions in their poverty rates in the scenario by 2043 compared to the Current Path forecast, of 6.1 and 5.8 percentage points, respectively.

Leapfrogging scenario

Leapfrogging scenario

The Leapfrogging scenario represents a reasonable but ambitious adoption of and investment in renewable energy technologies, resulting in better access to electricity in urban and rural areas. The scenario includes accelerated access to mobile and fixed broadband and the adoption of modern technology that improves government efficiency and allows for the more rapid formalisation of the informal sector.

The intervention is explained here in the thematic part of the website.

Fixed broadband includes cable modem Internet connections, DSL Internet connections of at least 256 KB/s, fibre and other fixed broadband technology connections (such as satellite broadband Internet, ethernet local area networks, fixed-wireless access, wireless local area networks, WiMAX, etc.).

In 2019, Southern Africa had a low fixed broadband rate of 3.1 subscriptions per 100 people. North Africa is the only other region with a higher rate of 7 subscriptions per 100 people, with Central Africa having the lowest rate at 1.7 subscriptions per 100 people. In the Leapfrogging scenario, by 2043, fixed broadband access is set to increase to 49.6 subscriptions per 100 people compared to 28 subscriptions in the Current Path forecast.

Mobile broadband refers to wireless Internet access delivered through cellular towers to computers and other digital devices.

In 2019, Southern Africa had 60.6 mobile broadband subscriptions per 100 people. On the continent, only North Africa has more subscriptions at 77.5 per 100 people. In Southern Africa, the Leapfrogging scenario has the potential to push mobile broadband access to 141.7 subscriptions per 100 people by 2043. However, even in the Current Path forecast the region is expected to reach 139.9 subscriptions by then.

The greatest benefit of the interventions of the Leapfrogging scenario plays out in the medium term when projected subscriptions are indeed tangibly higher than in the Current Path forecast. In other words, mobile broadband subscriptions in Southern Africa are expected to increase rapidly either way but more quickly in the Leapfrogging scenario. Also, countries coming from a lower baseline, such as Eswatini and Madagascar (fewer than 20 subscriptions per 100 people in 2019), benefit more from the scenario interventions compared to those countries that already have high subscription rates, such as South Africa, Zambia or Botswana, which had more than 80 subscriptions per 100 people in 2019 already.

Access to electricity remains a key challenge for Southern Africa. In 2019, 46.9% of the population had access to electricity. In the Current Path forecast, 65.6% of the population will have access to electricity in 2043. This means that Southern Africa as a region will miss the SDG target (Indicator 7.1.1) of universal electricity access (98%) by 2030. In the Leapfrogging scenario, access to electricity is projected to expand much faster, giving 78.6% of the population access by 2043. In urban areas access is expected to be universal under that scenario (91.1%), and in rural areas the access rate is forecast to reach 67.3% compared to 49.5% in the Current Path forecast by 2043.

In the Leapfrogging scenario, Southern Africa’s GDP per capita is expected to experience a larger increase than in the Current Path forecast: from US$6 283 in 2019 to US$7 756 compared to US$7 323 in the Current Path forecast. The Leapfrogging scenario will have a strong impact on Madagascar’s GDP per capita, raising average income by more than 20% compared to the Current Path forecast by 2043. Malawi will also see a significant rise of 13.6%, while Seychelles and Mauritius will only see increases of 1.3% and 1.1%, respectively.

The interventions in the Leapfrogging scenario are projected to have the third largest impact on poverty reduction in Southern Africa after the Agriculture and Free Trade scenarios. The share of the population living below the poverty line will drop from 44.7% to 27.9% by 2043 compared to 31.7% in the Current Path forecast. When assessing absolute numbers, the Leapfrogging scenario would reduce the number of people living in poverty to 71.6 million compared to the projected 81.6 million in the Current Path forecast by 2043. In other words, almost 10 million people would escape poverty in the Leapfrogging scenario.

Free Trade scenario

Free Trade scenario

The Free Trade scenario represents the impact of the full implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) by 2034 through increases in exports, improved productivity and increased trade and economic freedom.

The intervention is explained here in the thematic part of the website. 

The trade balance is the difference between the value of a country's exports and its imports. A country that imports more goods and services than it exports in terms of value has a trade deficit, while a country that exports more goods and services than it imports has a trade surplus.

In 2019, Southern Africa had a trade deficit that accounted for 2.6% of GDP. In the Free Trade scenario, the region’s trade balance is set to improve in the short- and medium term before the deficit starts growing again, eventually arriving at 3.8% of GDP by 2043 compared to 1% of GDP in the Current Path forecast. Essentially, Southern Africa is expected to have a trade deficit by 2043, but in the Free Trade scenario the deficit would be higher than in the Current Path forecast.

However, the implementation of the AfCFTA in the Free Trade scenario would reduce the short- and medium-term trade deficit for Southern Africa compared to the Current Path forecast. Furthermore, increased free trade will have a net positive effect on Southern African countries, as their consumers pay lower prices for goods and producers increase profits from higher regional demand. A trade deficit is sustainable if countries ensure their domestic economies are attractive destinations for foreign direct investment, which offsets a trade deficit and has long-term positive effects for job creation, innovation and welfare of the population.[6A Gaur and R Mudambi, Four fallacies about trade and globalization, YaleGlobal Online, 27 October 2016]

In 2019, only two economies in Southern Africa had a positive trade balance: Mauritius with 8.7% of GDP and Botswana with 0.3%. The countries with the largest trade deficits were Lesotho (27%), Mozambique (22%) and Malawi (20.8%).

In the Free Trade scenario, Southern Africa’s GDP per capita is expected to experience the largest increase among the sectoral scenarios: from US$6 283 in 2019 to US$8 020 compared to US$7 323 in the Current Path forecast. Malawi, Madagascar, Zambia and Zimbabwe will all see their GDP per capita rise by more than 10% compared to the Current Path forecast by 2043, with Malawi rising by 20.4% to US$4 857.

Trade openness will reduce poverty in the long term after initially increasing it due to the redistributive effects of trade. Most African countries export primary commodities and low-tech manufacturing products, and therefore a continental free trade agreement (AfCFTA) that reduces tariffs and non-tariff barriers across Africa will increase competition among countries in primary commodities and low-tech manufacturing exports. Countries with inefficient, high-cost manufacturing sectors might be displaced as the AfCFTA is implemented, thereby pushing up poverty rates. In the long term, as the economy adjusts and produces and exports its comparatively advantaged (lower relative cost) goods and services, poverty rates will decline.

In the Free Trade scenario, extreme poverty in Southern Africa is expected to decrease more rapidly than in the Current Path forecast from 2033, as the effects of implementing the AfCFTA start to be felt. By 2043, 26.6% of people are forecast to live in extreme poverty in the Free Trade scenario compared to 31.7% in the Current Path forecast. The difference translates into close to 13 million people that would be able to escape poverty in the Free Trade scenario.

Financial Flows scenario

Financial Flows scenario

The Financial Flows scenario represents a reasonable but ambitious increase in worker remittances and aid flows to poor countries, and an increase in the stock of foreign direct investment (FDI) and additional portfolio investment inflows to middle-income countries. We also reduced outward financial flows to emulate a reduction in illicit financial outflows.

The intervention is explained here in the thematic part of the website.

At 2.1% of GDP in 2019, foreign aid played a less important role for Southern Africa than for the average economy in sub-Saharan Africa in which aid accounted for just over 3%. In both the Current Path forecast and the Financial Flows scenario, the contribution of foreign aid to Southern Africa’s economy, just as in all other regions within Africa, is projected to become less significant by 2043 as the continent shifts away from aid towards investment and trade, dropping to 2.1% of GDP in the Financial Flows scenario and 1.9% in the Current Path forecast by 2043. The average for sub-Saharan Africa is expected to be 1.5% of GDP in the Current Path forecast and 1.6% in the Financial Flows scenario. In the latter, aid will play a relatively more important role for the low-income economies in Southern Africa, in particular Malawi and Mozambique with foreign aid accounting for 12.3% and 9.4%, respectively (down from 24.2 and 15.1% in 2019). The decrease in foreign aid as a percentage of GDP is due to the growth of the countries’ economies. Absolute amounts of foreign aid will still likely increase over the forecast horizon.

FDI flows to Southern Africa accounted for about 2.6% of GDP in 2019 compared to the average of 2.7% for sub-Saharan Africa. The COVID-19 pandemic meant a drastic drop in FDI inflows to Southern Africa, down to 0.7% of GDP in 2020. In the Financial Flows scenario, FDI as a share of GDP is projected to recover and surpass pre-pandemic levels. By 2043, flows are set to account for 4.7% of Southern Africa’s GDP compared to 3.9% in the Current Path forecast. The countries in which FDI inflows are forecast to account for the highest share of GDP are Mozambique (16.1%), Seychelles (10.5%) and Namibia (8.5%). In South Africa and Mauritius, on the other hand, FDI is expected to only account for 2.5% and 3.2%, respectively, by 2043.

In 2019, remittances accounted for 0.3% of Southern Africa’s GDP. In the Current Path forecast, this figure will decrease to 0.2% by 2043. In the Financial Flows scenario, remittances are expected to account for 0.24% of the region’s GDP. In absolute terms, remittances will amount to US$2.4 billion in the Current Path forecast and US$3 billion in the Financial Flows scenario by 2043, up from US$1.8 billion in 2019.

In absolute terms, Southern Africa is the region in Africa that received the second lowest volume of remittances after Central Africa. West Africa had an inflow of US$26.6 billion in 2019, 14.7 times the volume received by Southern Africa, due mainly to the impact of Nigeria’s large inflows.

In the Financial Flows scenario, Southern Africa’s GDP per capita is expected to gain US$185 more than in the Current Path forecast reaching US$7 508 by 2043. The scenario generally has a small impact on the average income of Southern Africa’s countries, with the largest increase in Malawi at 6.6% compared to the Current Path forecast by 2043.

The interventions in the Financial Flows scenario have the potential to reduce the share of Southern Africa’s population living in extreme poverty to 30.4% by 2043 compared to 31.7% in the Current Path forecast. This means that 78 million instead of 81.2 million people will live below the poverty line by 2043.

Infrastructure scenario

Infrastructure scenario

The Infrastructure scenario represents a reasonable but ambitious increase in infrastructure spending across Africa, focusing on basic infrastructure (roads, water, sanitation, electricity access and ICT) in low-income countries and increasing emphasis on advanced infrastructure (such as ports, airports, railway and electricity generation) in higher-income countries.

Note that health and sanitation infrastructure is included as part of the Health/WaSH scenario and that ICT infrastructure and more rapid uptake of renewables are part of the Leapfrogging scenario. The interventions there push directly on outcomes, whereas those modelled in this scenario increase infrastructure spending, indirectly boosting other forms of infrastructure, including those supporting health, sanitation and ICT. 

The intervention is explained here in the thematic part of the website.

In 2019, 82.1 million people in Southern Africa had access to electricity, accounting for about 46.9% of the population. In urban areas, the access rate was 69.3%, which was nearly double the rate in rural areas (34.7%). The interventions in the Infrastructure scenario have the potential to increase Southern Africa’s overall electricity access rate to 71.2% by 2043 compared to 65.7% in the Current Path forecast.

Rural areas would benefit more from the interventions in the Infrastructure scenario than urban areas because they are coming from a lower baseline. Access rates in rural areas would increase to 57.7% by 2043 compared to 49.5% in the Current Path forecast. In urban areas, the Infrastructure scenario accounts for an additional improvement of 2.5 percentage points, pushing the expected access rate to 86.3%.

Indicator 9.1.1 in the Sustainable Development Goals refers to the proportion of the rural population who live within 2 km of an all-season road and is captured in the Rural Access Index.

Investments in rural road infrastructure typically have positive socio-economic impacts, such as increased rural incomes and poverty reduction, improved maternal and paediatric health outcomes and heightened agricultural productivity.

In 2019, 61.9% of Southern Africa’s rural population had access to an all-weather road within a distance of 2 km. This is almost 12 percentage points above the average access rate of sub-Saharan Africa. The relatively high baseline explains the relatively modest impact of the Infrastructure scenario on rural road access. By 2043, it is projected that 66% of Southern Africa’s rural population will have access to an all-weather road within a distance of 2 km compared to 64.3% in the Current Path forecast. Southern Africa has the best rural road infrastructure in sub-Saharan Africa and the second best on the continent after North Africa, which had an access rate of 75.8% in 2019.

Improvements included in the Infrastructure scenario are expected to push GDP per capita from US$6 283 in 2019 to US$7 516 in 2043, US$193 above the Current Path forecast for 2043. Zambia will see the largest increase in its GDP per capita, as its average income rises by 7.3% compared to the Current Path forecast by 2043. The countries with the highest GDP per capita in 2019, Seychelles, Mauritius, South Africa, Botswana and Namibia, will all see marginal increases in GDP per capita of less than 2% by 2043.

In the Infrastructure scenario, the share of Southern Africans living in extreme poverty is expected to drop from 44.7% in 2019 to 30.1% in 2043 compared to 31.7% in the Current Path forecast. It means that an additional 4.1 million people will escape poverty over the coming two decades via the interventions in the Infrastructure scenario.

Governance scenario

Governance scenario

The Governance scenario represents a reasonable but ambitious improvement in accountability and reduces corruption, and hence improves the quality of service delivery by government.

The intervention is explained here in the thematic part of the website.

As defined by the World Bank, government effectiveness ‘captures perceptions of the quality of public services, the quality of the civil service and the degree of its independence from political pressures, the quality of policy formulation and implementation, and the credibility of the government’s commitment to such policies’.

Chart 51 presents the impact of the interventions in the Governance scenario on government effectiveness.

Southern Africa’s average score of 2.1 on government effectiveness is the best on the continent. The region performs better than North Africa with a score of 1.9, West Africa and East Africa both with a score of 1.7 and Central Africa with a score of 1.3 in 2019. In both the Current Path forecast and in the Governance scenario, Southern Africa’s government effectiveness quality score is projected to improve to 2.5 by 2043.

Country performances vary greatly across Southern Africa. In 2019, the top five performers were Mauritius with a score of 3.6, Botswana and Seychelles with a score of 3 as well as South Africa and Namibia both scoring 2.7. Mauritius will remain the highest performer by 2043, reaching a score of 3.8 in the Governance scenario. The weakest performers, on the other hand, were Madagascar and Zimbabwe with scores of 1.2 and 1.3, respectively, will reach 1.8 and 1.9 in the Governance scenario.

In the Current Path forecast, GDP per capita is expected to increase to US$7 323 while the interventions in the Governance scenario have the potential to increase GDP per capita from US$6 283 in 2019 to US$7 470 in 2043. The Governance scenario has a marginal effect on the regions’ individual economies: the largest increase will be in Malawi, whose GDP per capita will rise by 4.4% compared to the Current Path forecast by 2043.

In the Governance scenario, Southern Africa could reduce the share of the population living below the poverty line to 30.7% by 2043 compared to 31.7% in the Current Path forecast. The interventions in the Governance scenario could prevent about 7.5 million people in Southern Africa from living in extreme poverty in 2043.

Impact of scenarios on carbon emissions

Impact of scenarios on carbon emissions

This section presents projections for carbon emissions in the Current Path for Southern Africa and the 11 scenarios. Note that IFs uses carbon equivalents rather than CO2 equivalents.

Among the sectoral interventions, it is the Free Trade and Manufacturing/Transfers scenarios that are expected to have the biggest impact on carbon emissions by 2043, resulting in additional emissions of 10 million and 6 million tons, respectively. The Leapfrogging and Demographic scenarios, on the other hand, will reduce carbon emissions to 163 million, 1 million tons below the Current Path forecast.

South Africa, Southern Africa’s largest carbon emitter, will see its emissions decrease from 132.09 million in 2019 to 109.75 million in the Current Path forecast. Among the sectoral scenarios, the Free Trade scenario will also lead to the greatest increase in South Africa’s emissions, followed by the Manufacturing/Transfers scenario.

Combined Agenda 2063 scenario

Combined Agenda 2063 scenario

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The Combined Agenda 2063 scenario consists of the combination of all 11 sectoral scenarios presented above, namely the Stability, Demographic, Health/WaSH, Agriculture, Education, Manufacturing/Transfers, Leapfrogging, Free Trade, Financial Flows, Infrastructure and Governance scenarios. The cumulative impact of better education, health, infrastructure, etc. means that countries get an additional benefit in the integrated IFs forecasting platform that we refer to as the synergistic effect. Chart 55 presents the contribution of each of these 12 components to GDP per capita in the Combined Agenda 2063 scenario as a stacked area graph.

The Combined Agenda 2063 scenario could increase Southern Africa’s GDP per capita by an additional US$3 573, of which US$371 represents a synergistic effect from the interaction of the different scenarios. Among the sectoral interventions, the Free Trade scenario is projected to have the greatest impact on GDP per capita, leading to an increase of US$698 by 2043. The second and third largest impact on GDP per capita could be achieved in the Leapfrogging and Manufacturing/Transfers scenarios with additions to GDP per capita of US$434 and US$425, respectively. The Leapfrogging scenario is unique, as a high increase in GDP per capita is not accompanied by an increase in carbon emissions, in fact emissions decrease over the forecast horizon.

Whereas Chart 55 presents a stacked area graph on the contribution of each scenario to GDP per capita as well as the additional benefit or synergistic effect, Chart 56 presents only the GDP per capita in the Current Path forecast and the Combined Agenda 2063 scenario.

In the Combined Agenda 2063 scenario, Southern Africa’s GDP per capita could increase by an additional US$3 573 and reach US$10 896. In the Current Path forecast, the region’s GDP per capita increases to US$7 323, about 67% lower than in the Combined Agenda 2063 scenario. Two countries, Malawi and Madagascar, will see increases in GDP per capita above 100%, which represents remarkable growth. The lowest increases will be seen in Mauritius and Seychelles, with increases of 17.5% and 20.7%, respectively.

In the Combined Agenda 2063 scenario, Southern Africa can get closer to eliminating extreme poverty. By 2043, 12.7% of the population in the region is expected to live below the poverty line, which translates to 32.5 million people. In comparison, in the Current Path forecast, 31.7% of the population, or 81.2 million people, are projected to live in extreme poverty by 2043.

See Chart 8 to view the Current Path forecast of the sectoral composition of the economy.

In the Combined Agenda 2063 scenario and looking to 2043, the service sector is the only sector that will experience an increase in both relative and absolute terms. Its relative contribution to Southern Africa’s GDP will increase by 3.4 percentage points from 58.5% in 2019 in the Current Path forecast to 61.9% by 2043. This translates to an increase in GDP of US$486 billion attributable to services alone adding to a sector that was worth US$396.3 billion in 2019. The service sector is followed by the manufacturing sector which is set to add an additional US$148.1 billion to GDP by 2043, and the ICT sector will add additional US$37.8 billion, despite its drop in the relative contribution to GDP in the Combined Agenda 2063 scenario.

In the Combined Agenda 2063 scenario, Southern Africa’s GDP (MER) is forecast to expand more than threefold from US$678 billion to US$2 010 billion by 2043. In other words, in the Combined Agenda 2063 scenario, the region’s GDP would essentially be 62.6% larger than in the Current Path forecast where it will be worth US$1 257.9 million by 2043.

In 2019, Southern Africa’s carbon emissions stood at 149 million tons. In the Combined Agenda 2063 scenario, which leads to higher economic growth and increased energy demand, carbon emissions are expected to rise by 31.5% to 196 million tons by 2043. The difference in projected carbon emissions between the Combined Agenda 2063 scenario and the Current Path forecast is 32 million tons.

In the Combined Agenda 2063 scenario, South Africa will by far remain the largest emitter of carbon, with emissions of 114.7 million tons of carbon by 2043.

Endnotes

  1. SE Marks, Southern Africa, Britannica

  2. S Naidu and B Roberts, Confronting the Region: A Profile of Southern Africa, Cape Town: HSRC 2005, 30.

  3. S Naidu and B Roberts, Confronting the Region: A Profile of Southern Africa, Cape Town: HSRC 2005, 37.

  4. S Naidu and B Roberts, Confronting the Region: A Profile of Southern Africa, Cape Town: HSRC 2005, 37.

  5. ASARECA, The Southern African Agricultural Productivity Programme (EAAPP)

  6. A Gaur and R Mudambi, Four fallacies about trade and globalization, YaleGlobal Online, 27 October 2016

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Cite this research

Du Toit McLachlan (2022) Southern Africa. Published online at futures.issafrica.org. Retrieved from https://futures.issafrica.org/geographic/regions/southern-africa/ [Online Resource] Updated 19 September 2022.