Swaziland Economy  

BACK TO THE FRONT PAGE
BASIC INFO.
ECONOMY
GEOGRAPHY
GOVERNMENT
HISTORY
HUMAN RIGHTS
LINKS
NEWS
PEOPLE
shadow 
 

SWAZILAND

In this small, landlocked economy, subsistence agriculture occupies approximately 70% of the population. The manufacturing sector has diversified since the mid-1980s. Sugar and wood pulp remain important foreign exchange earners. In 2007, the sugar industry increased efficiency and diversification efforts, in response to a 17% decline in EU sugar prices. Mining has declined in importance in recent years with only coal and quarry stone mines remaining active. Surrounded by South Africa, except for a short border with Mozambique, Swaziland is heavily dependent on South Africa from which it receives more than nine-tenths of its imports and to which it sends 60% of its exports. Swaziland's currency is pegged to the South African rand, subsuming Swaziland's monetary policy to South Africa. Customs duties from the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) account for two-thirds of Swaziland's government revenues, and worker remittances from South Africa substantially supplement domestically earned income. Customs revenues plummeted during the global economic crisis and Swaziland has appealed to SACU for assistance. With an estimated 40% unemployment rate, Swaziland's need to increase the number and size of small and medium enterprises and attract foreign direct investment is acute. Overgrazing, soil depletion, drought, and sometimes floods persist as problems for the future. More than one-fourth of the population needed emergency food aid in 2006-07 because of drought, and nearly two-fifths of the adult population has been infected by HIV/AIDS.

GDP (purchasing power parity):

$5.872 billion (2009 est.)

country comparison to the world: 154
$5.896 billion (2008 est.)
$5.741 billion (2007 est.)
note: data are in 2009 US dollars

GDP (official exchange rate):

$2.929 billion (2009 est.)

GDP - real growth rate:

-0.4% (2009 est.)

country comparison to the world: 111
2.7% (2008 est.)
3.5% (2007 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP):

$4,400 (2009 est.)

country comparison to the world: 150
$4,500 (2008 est.)
$4,400 (2007 est.)
note: data are in 2009 US dollars

GDP - composition by sector:

agriculture: 11.4%
industry: 44.6%
services: 44% (2009 est.)

Labor force:

457,900 (2007)

country comparison to the world: 157

Labor force - by occupation:

agriculture: NA%
industry: NA%
services: NA%

Unemployment rate:

40% (2006 est.)

country comparison to the world: 186

Population below poverty line:

69% (2006)

Household income or consumption by percentage share:

lowest 10%: 1.6%
highest 10%: 40.7% (2001)

Distribution of family income - Gini index:

50.4 (2001)

country comparison to the world: 23

Investment (gross fixed):

21.8% of GDP (2009 est.)

country comparison to the world: 67

Budget:

revenues: $592.2 million
expenditures: $694.8 million (2009 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices):

8.5% (2009 est.)

country comparison to the world: 183
13.4% (2008 est.)

Central bank discount rate:

11% (31 December 2008)

country comparison to the world: 33
11% (31 December 2007)

Commercial bank prime lending rate:

14.83% (31 December 2008)

country comparison to the world: 58
13.17% (31 December 2007)

Stock of money:

$211.8 million (31 December 2008)

country comparison to the world: 113
$244.8 million (31 December 2007)

Stock of quasi money:

$441.5 million (31 December 2008)

country comparison to the world: 115
$529.4 million (31 December 2007)

Stock of domestic credit:

$51.55 million (31 December 2008)

country comparison to the world: 131
$204.1 million (31 December 2007)

Market value of publicly traded shares:

$NA (31 December 2008)

country comparison to the world: 107
$203.1 million (31 December 2007)
$199.9 million (31 December 2006)

Agriculture - products:

sugarcane, cotton, corn, tobacco, rice, citrus, pineapples, sorghum, peanuts; cattle, goats, sheep

Industries:

coal, wood pulp, sugar, soft drink concentrates, textiles and apparel

Industrial production growth rate:

-3.5% (2009 est.)

country comparison to the world: 97

Electricity - production:

441 million kWh (2007 est.)

country comparison to the world: 162

Electricity - consumption:

1.266 billion kWh (2007 est.)

country comparison to the world: 143

Electricity - exports:

0 kWh (2008)

Electricity - imports:

770 million kWh; note - electricity supplied by South Africa (2008 est.)

Oil - production:

0 bbl/day (2008 est.)

country comparison to the world: 120

Oil - consumption:

4,000 bbl/day (2008 est.)

country comparison to the world: 175

Oil - exports:

0 bbl/day (2007 est.)

country comparison to the world: 158

Oil - imports:

4,100 bbl/day (2007 est.)

country comparison to the world: 168

Oil - proved reserves:

0 bbl (1 January 2009 est.)

country comparison to the world: 113

Natural gas - production:

0 cu m (2008 est.)

country comparison to the world: 111

Natural gas - consumption:

0 cu m (2008 est.)

country comparison to the world: 119

Natural gas - exports:

0 cu m (2008 est.)

country comparison to the world: 86

Natural gas - imports:

0 cu m (2008 est.)

country comparison to the world: 113

Natural gas - proved reserves:

0 cu m (1 January 2009 est.)

country comparison to the world: 119

Current account balance:

-$141 million (2009 est.)

country comparison to the world: 79
-$33 million (2008 est.)

Exports:

$1.57 billion (2009 est.)

country comparison to the world: 134
$1.756 billion (2008 est.)

Exports - commodities:

soft drink concentrates, sugar, wood pulp, cotton yarn, refrigerators, citrus and canned fruit

Imports:

$1.643 billion (2009 est.)

country comparison to the world: 155
$1.855 billion (2008 est.)

Imports - commodities:

motor vehicles, machinery, transport equipment, foodstuffs, petroleum products, chemicals

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:

$559 million (31 December 2009 est.)

country comparison to the world: 120
$752 million (31 December 2008 est.)

Debt - external:

$534 million (31 December 2009 est.)

country comparison to the world: 156
$554 million (31 December 2008 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment - at home:

$NA

Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad:

$NA

Exchange rates:



Main Crops:
Sugarcane, cotton, maize, tobacco, rice, citrus, pineapples, corn, sorghum, peanuts; cattle, goats, sheep .

Natural Resources: asbestos, coal, clay, cassiterite, hydropower, forests, small gold and diamond deposits, quarry stone, and talc.

Major Industries:
mining (coal and asbestos), wood pulp, sugar, soft drink concentrates .
NATIONAL GNP

Swaziland ranks among the more prosperous countries in Africa. Most of the high-level economic activity is in the hands of non-Africans, but ethnic Swazis are becoming more active. Small entrepreneurs are moving into middle management positions. Although 70% of Swazis live in rural areas, nearly every homestead has a wage earner. The past few years have seen wavering economic growth, which has been exacerbated by the economy's inability to create new jobs at the same rate that new job seekers enter the market. This is due largely in part to the country's population growth rate, which strains the natural heritage and the country's ability to provide adequate social services, such as health care and education. Overgrazing, soil depletion, drought, and floods are persistent problems.

Nearly 60% of Swazi territory is held by the Crown in trust of the Swazi nation. The balance is privately owned, much of it by foreigners. The question of land use and ownership remains a very sensitive one. For Swazis living on rural homesteads, the principal occupation is either subsistence farming or livestock herding. Culturally, cattle are important symbols of wealth and status, but they are being used increasingly for milk, meat, and profit.

Swaziland enjoys well-developed road links with South Africa. It also has railroads running east to west and north to south. The older east-west link, called the Goba line, makes it possible to export bulk goods from Swaziland through the Port of Maputo in Mozambique. Until recently, most of Swaziland's imports were shipped through this port. Conflict in Mozambique in the 1980s diverted many Swazi exports to ports in South Africa. A north-south rail link, completed in 1986, provides a connection between the Eastern Transvaal rail network and the South African ports of Richard's Bay and Durban.

The sugar industry, based solely on irrigated cane, is Swaziland's leading export earner and private-sector employer. Soft drink concentrate (a U.S. investment) is the country's largest export earner, followed by wood pulp and lumber from cultivated pine forests. Pineapple, citrus fruit, and cotton are other important agricultural exports.

Swaziland mines coal and diamonds for export. There also is a quarry industry for domestic consumption. Mining contributes about 1.8% of Swaziland's GDP each year but has been declining in importance in recent years.

Recently, a number of industrial firms have located at the industrial estate at Matsapha near Manzini. In addition to processed agricultural and forestry products, the fast-growing industrial sector at Matsapha also produces garments, textiles, and a variety of light manufactured products. The Swaziland Industrial Development Company (SIDC) and the Swaziland Investment Promotion Authority (SIPA) have assisted in bringing many of these industries to the country. Government programs encourage Swazi entrepreneurs to run small and medium-sized firms. Tourism also is important, attracting more than 424,000 visitors annually, mostly from Europe and South Africa.

From the mid-1980s, foreign investment in the manufacturing sector boosted economic growth rates significantly. Beginning in mid-1985, the depreciated value of the currencyincreased the competitiveness of Swazi exports and moderated the growth of imports, generating trade surpluses. During the 1990s, the country often ran small trade deficits. South Africa and the European Union are major customers for Swazi exports. The United States is a significant market for Swazi sugar, a market that would presumably extend to textiles should Swaziland become a beneficiary of the African Growth and Opportunity Act.

Swaziland, Lesotho, Botswana, Namibia, and the Republic of South Africa form the Southern African Customs Union (SACU), where import duties apply uniformly to member countries. Swaziland, Lesotho, Namibia, and South Africa also are members of the Common Monetary Area (CMA) in which repatriation and unrestricted funds are permitted. Swaziland issues its own currency, the lilangeni (plural: emalangeni), which is at par with the South African rand.