South African GDP plunged 51% in second quarter during strict lockdown

Shoppers queue outside a grocery store during a 21 day nationwide lockdown, aimed at limiting the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Soweto, South Africa

South African economic output shrank by 51.0% in the second quarter of 2020, its fourth quarterly contraction in a row, as a strict lockdown to curb the coronavirus pandemic shut down most activity, data showed on Tuesday.

Analysts polled by Reuters had predicted a 47.3% contraction in quarter-on-quarter terms.

“This is the first time in history that the South African economy has contracted for four straight quarters,” Statistician-General Risenga Maluleke told a news conference.

Statistics South Africa data showed gross domestic product shrank 17.1% year-on-year in the April-June quarter.

Most sectors declined steeply apart from agriculture, which grew 15.1% in Q2 from January-March. Mining declined 73.1%, manufacturing 74.9% and construction 76.6%.

The COVID-19 pandemic, which has severely curtailed economic activity worldwide, means the outlook for Africa’s most industrialised economy remains gloomy. Official projections are for a contraction of at least 7% this year.

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