South Africa’s decline in 13 graphs

 ·29 Oct 2021

Chief economist at the Efficient Group, Dawie Roodt, has published a series of graphs showing how South Africa’s economy has steadily declined over the last three decades.

While Roodt noted that it was the job of economists to measure things over time, it was less common to directly compare two countries – or in this case, South Africa and the rest of the world.

“The single most important variable, as far as I am concerned, is life expectancy,” Roodt said.

“Life expectancy correlates with everything that is good: Low levels of crime, quality education, wealth, and so much more. Although I have used these variables, I have also considered a few others.”

Roodt noted that, globally, citizens have never had it this good – with improvements seen in nearly every area of their lives over last 30 years.

“The past two years were a bit of a hiccup, but the trends remain firm. Income, crime levels, war, child mortality. Just about every variable is either at its best levels ever or getting better. Even the giant panda is not critically endangered anymore,” he said.

However, the same can not be said for South Africans.

“The only conclusion that I can draw is that the ‘reason’ for our dismal performance has to do with the destructive ANC government. Today, the ANC – in fact, the whole tripartite alliance – is a giant blob that lives off of the state. And the results are there for all to see. But let the numbers paint the picture that is worth a thousand words.”


Since 1994, South Africa’s per capita GDP, compared to the rest of the world, deteriorated by approximately 20% in relative terms, Roodt said.

“In 1994, our per capita GDP was close to 85% of the world’s per capita GDP. Today, it is closer to 60%.”

“Even when compared to the rest of Africa, we have deteriorated. In 1994, our per capita GDP was 2.6 times that of the rest of Africa. Today, we are still much richer than the rest of Africa, but less so than in 1994.

In 1994, South Africa’s per capita GDP was 4.5 times that of China. China’s GDP is now double that of South Africa’s, Roodt said.



The shocking power statistics explain a lot about South Africa’s inferior economic performance, said Roodt.

He noted that in 1994, South Africa generated more electricity on a per capita basis than the rest of the world. Today, the country generates close to 60% of the world’s average – indicative of a catastrophic collapse.

“In 1994, we generated nearly six times as much electricity on a per capita basis as China. Today, we generate half of theirs. Is our economic performance surprising then?”


Life expectancy typically correlates with ‘everything that is good’, Roodt said.

“In 1994, our average life expectancy was close to the world’s average. Today, it is about 85% of the world’s average. But take note of the trend: Because of the ANC’s disastrous AIDS policies under Mbeki, there was a dramatic fall in life expectancy. This was turned around by Zuma – probably the only good thing he did as president.”

“Compared to Africa, our life expectancy today is lower than that of the poorest continent in the world.”


Roodt noted that South Africans are not ignorant of the mismanagement, corruption, and incompetence of the ANC and its governance – pointing to a steady decline in perceptions over the past 10 years.

“On the last graph, we see that the middle 1990s was a time of political upheaval and violence. After 1994, there was a dramatic improvement but, in recent years, political instability has returned.

“My picture-story does not show a successful country with a diligent, responsible, and effective government. And despite all the promises of a ‘new dawn’, I do not see things changing. But as they say, a country gets the government it deserves,” he said.

Read: One of South Africa’s biggest companies is making plans to move away from Eskom’s grid and load shedding

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