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Doing Business in South Africa

Are you currently doing business in South Africa, or are you planning to in the near future? Consider this…

  • Twenty-five languages are spoken in South Africa, and the country has eleven official languages: Afrikaans, English, Ndebele, Northern Sotho, Sotho, Swazi, Tswana, Tsonga, Venda, Xhosa, and Zulu. Most South Africans of European origin speak Afrikaans, with Zulu and Xhosa the more widely spoken languages for native South Africans. Almost 57 percent of South Africans speak some English as a second language.

  • South Africa consists of diverse ethnic groups: 79.4 percent black African, 9.2 percent white, 8.8 percent coloured (a mixed-race group of white, Khoi, San, Griqua, Chinese, and Malay who were originally brought in by the Dutch and speak Afrikaans), and 2.6 percent Indian or Asian. Black Africans are further divided into a variety of ethnic groups speaking different Bantu languages; including Zulu and Xhosa, nine of these are official national languages.

  • South Africa has the largest economy on the African continent and the twenty-eighth largest in the world. The country is ranked as an upper-middle-income economy by the World Bank, making it one of only four upper-middle-income economies on the Africa continent. (The others are Botswana, Gabon, and Mauritius.)

  • The major industries of South Africa include mining, automobile assembly, metalworking, machinery, textiles, iron and steel, chemical production, fertilizer production, foodstuffs, and commercial ship repair. The country is the world’s largest producer of chromium, manganese, platinum, and gold as well as the world’s third-largest coal exporter. In addition, South Africa is one of the world’s top five producers of chicory roots, grapefruits, and cereals.

With a diverse culture influenced by various ethnic groups in combination with strong economic power, South Africa is attractive to foreign businesses. However, South Africa has many social and cultural differences when compared to the United States. Here are some tips for successful business relationships!


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