Thursday, September 10, 2009

South Africa - the leading economy in the world?

Since the end of apartheid South Africa has become a world economic powerhouse. But how are the country's businesses placed to deal with the global recession? asks CNBC European Business.

Time was, not long ago, when South Africa was a pariah, isolated from the world and cut off from international sport, theatre, music and business. Fifteen years into its new era of democracy, it is back in the fold of the international community.

The same is true for the country's role in the wider business world. Multinational investors are back; but more and more, South Africa is becoming a net exporter of its own companies.

According to African Business magazine, 15 out of the top 16 companies on the continent are South African, as are 54 out of the top 90. And the companies in the former apartheid state are flexing their muscles and finding new markets in Africa and across the world.

"South Africa is probably the leading economy in the world," says Dr Martyn Davies, chief executive of Frontier Advisory, a research and strategy company working in frontier and emerging markets and director of the Centre for Chinese Studies at Stellenbosch University. "No other country of our size and economic ranking has produced as many globally successful Fortune 500 companies as we have. The only comparable country is South Korea. There is a phenomenal ability for South African companies to grow and go global from South Africa. No other comparably sized emerging market has been able to succeed in doing that; not even the Chinese, not even the Indians."