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People and the River


Distribution of Economic Activities: South Africa  

As the world’s largest producer of platinum, gold and chromium, natural resources have allowed South Africa to grow as a middle-income country that ranks 17th amongst international stock markets. Important industries include automobile assembly, metalworking, iron and steel, textiles, machinery, fertilizers, foodstuffs and commercial ship repair (World Fact Book 2009). South Africa has modern infrastructure and the economy grew substantially from 2004 to 2008 as a result of political stability and the global commodities boom.  The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2009 was ZAR 2,4 trillion (USD $305,4 billion; Stats SA 2010).

The South African portion of the Limpopo River basin.
Source: Hatfield 2010
( click to enlarge )

There is a great deal of variability in contributions to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) from the Water Management Areas (WMA) in the South African portion of the Limpopo River basin. Contributions from the Luvuvhu and Letaba WMA and the Limpopo WMA  are among some of the lowest in the country (1 to 1,5 %), while the Crocodile (West) and Marico WMA has the highest contribution of any single WMA (25 %) in the country. The Olifants WMA contribution of 5 % falls in between these extremes.

The following descriptions provide an overview of the main economic activities in the South African WMAs within the Limpopo River basin.  While these estimates are highly informative, they do not represent the significant contribution that tourism makes to the GDP of South Africa, particularly in the Limpopo River basin

Luvuvhu and Letaba WMA

Economic activity in the Luvuvhu and Letaba WMA is centered around Thohoyandou (government and trade) and Tzaneen (agriculture and trade). A breakdown of sector contributions to the Gross Geographic Product (GGP) of the WMA is shown in the chart below (DWAF 2003b).

Sector contributions to the GGP of the Luvuvhu and Letaba WMA (1997).

Source: DWAF 2003b

Limpopo WMA

In the Limpopo WMA, economic activity is concentrated around the main urban centres of Polokwane (agriculture and mining), Lephalale, and Mokopane. A breakdown of sector contributions to the WMAs Gross Geographic Product (GGP) is shown in the chart below (DWAF 2003a).

Sector contributions to the GGP of the Limpopo WMA (1997).

Source: DWAF 2003a

Crocodile (West) and Marico WMA

The Crocodile (West) and Marico WMA contributes the largest percentage to the GDP (25%) of any WMA in South Africa and with a strong, well-integrated and diverse economy, with manufacturing, finance and transportation all contributing to a high level. This is mostly due to the location of  the major government and economic centres of Pretoria and Johannesburg within this WMA. The composition of the economy in this WMA is shown, broken down by sectors, in the chart below (DWAF 2003c).

Sector contributions to the GGP of the Crocodile (West) and Marico WMA (1997).

Source: DWAF 2003c

Olifants WMA

Economic activity in the Olifants WMA is highly diverse, and fairly evenly distributed between sectors, as shown in the breakdown of sector contributions of GGP in the chart below (DWAF 2003d).  However, mining plays a significant role in the economy of this region, with a large number of the mines in the Limpopo River basin located within this WMA.  For more information on the distribution of mines, please refer to Mining and Industry in the Basin

Sector contributions to the GGP of the Olifants WMA (1997).

Source: DWAF 2003d



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