Reporter’s Notebook: South African economy faces stagnation

Ebola Outbreak

While West Africa has been severely damaged by the Ebola outbreak, the virus has also affected parts of the continent that haven’t reported a single case. CCTV Africa’s Guy Henderson reported this story from Johannesburg.

The first half of 2014 saw South Africa knocked from its perch as the region’s largest economy.

It’s currency, the rand is also near a six-year low against the U.S. dollar as 2014 draws to a close.

Major ratings agencies have the South African economy just two notches above junk status, mainly because of its rising current account deficit and slow rate of GDP growth. In per capita terms, the country has been in recession since 2010, according to the World Bank.

A weaker currency isn’t all bad news however. It can be great for exports, although South Africa’s manufacturing sector is still struggling to re-bound after years of cheap imports.

While a weaker currency often leads to more foreign tourists, South Africa has seen a dramatic decline in tourism which the Southern Africa Tourism Services Association blames on the Ebola virus. They also said the biggest drop, an 80 percent decline, was from tourists from Asia.

Ebola paranoia may fade in 2015, but investor fears about the structural issues in the South African economy are likely to continue, accompanied by an ongoing weakening of the currency.