Top 10 Richest Province in South Africa 2023 ( Top 5 State And Poorest)

A combination of the 10 Richest Province in South Africa, including but not limited to its top 5 state and poorest regions enabled its GDP to be the second biggest economy in Africa, behind Nigeria.

This guideline looks at the uniqueness of each with its economic contribution to the gross domestic product ( GDP).

However, given the provinces’ limited ability to generate revenue with all primary income stemming from casino taxes, horse racing taxes, beverage licences, motor vehicle licences, and health patient fees, the principal indicator of the richest province in South Africa is GDP rather than IGR.

This post seeks to provide an exhaustive overview of the economic landscape of South Africa’s wealthiest provinces by analysing key indicators such as GDP, unemployment rates, standard of living, HDI, per capita income and mineral resources.

Top 5 Richest State And Province In South Africa 2023

Using the more precise nominal GDP rather than the population-skewed PPP, the richest provinces in South Africa are:

1. Gauteng

Gauteng, in the northeastern part of the country is no doubt the economic powerhouse of South Africa. Gauteng, contributes nearly half of the country’s GDP ( at 34% ) and this position it as the richest province in South Africa.

Johannesburg City Centre, Guateng, South Africa
Johannesburg City Centre, Guateng, South Africa

The province is the manufacturing hotspot in the country; industrial operations spans automotive, electronics to food and textiles.

However, one of the greatest shock about this province is that the largest source of income comes from finance, real estate, and business services, followed by general government services, which account for 18.0%.

This diversity in economic sectors assures a robust economy with multiple development generators, further solidifying Gauteng’s position as South Africa’s richest province.

Gauteng also generates the highest amount of internal revenue and spends the second-most on education, while spending the most on health

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As the richest province in South Africa, Gauteng has developed infrastructure, including an extensive road network, airports, and well-established public transport.

Gauteng holds the record for being the province with the highest number of vehicles plying the road on a daily basis, this is closely followed by Western Cape town.

On the International front, Gauteng is a financial muscle house, hosting approximately 7% of the whole Africa’s GDP. This and many factors positioned it as the richest province in South Africa.

It might interest you to know that Gauteng is host province to four out of the entire SA’s central institutions, it doubles also as home to the country’s medical research and development and Cradle of Humankind ( a respected world heritage site).

In terms of mineral resources, Gauteng is blessed to have large deposits of gold, coal, and other minerals; and for decades, these minerals have helped positioned it as the richest province in the country.

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2. KwaZulu-Natal

Located on the eastern coast of South Africa, KwaZulu-Natal accounted for 16 percent of South Africa’s 2019 GDP, making it the second-richest province in South Africa.

Durban coast, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

As well as being one of the richest provinces in South Africa, KwaZulu-Natal is one of the country’s leading manufacturing hubs, with a diverse sector offering products ranging from textiles and clothing to chemical products. 

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In addition, KwaZulu-Natal’s largest metropolis, Durban, is Africa’s largest producer of chrome chemicals, and the province is also home to Africa’s first gas-fired power facility, the Newcastle Cogeneration Plant.

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3. Western Cape 

Cape Town city centre, Western Cape, South Africa
Cape Town city centre, Western Cape, South Africa

Western Cape is the 3rd richest province in SA, accounting for 14% GDP contribution to the national purse.

The Western Cape province economy revolves primarily on tourism and finance, but agriculture in particular accounts for a significant portion of the nation’s agricultural output.

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Being a major grower and producer of fruits and wine, Western Cape is credited for being a major agricultural export financier due to foreign earnings received. On a global scale, Western Cape stands tall amongst the world’s largest wine industry.

Doubling also as a giant financial hub housing many international and corporate financial behemoth, Western Cape dominance is clearly evident as you drive round Cape Town.

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4. Eastern Cape

Cape Recife, Schoenmakerskop, Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape, South Africa
Cape Recife, Schoenmakerskop, Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape, South Africa

Accounting for 8 percent of South Africa’s gross domestic product (GDP), Eastern Cape, a region with diverse economic activities, a mix of natural resources, and a unique cultural heritage, is the 5th richest province in South Africa.

Eastern Cape also has the highest percentage of households residing in traditional residences, which reflects the province’s economic disparity.

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5. Mpumalanga

Mpumalanga, South Africa

As South Africa’s 6th richest province or should I say 3rd poorest province, one thing that set Mpumalanga apart is its abundant natural resources.

This province is located in the eastern flank of the country; its vast agricultural land and the mineral resources impacted on this province to be able to contribute approximately 8% to the country’s GDP.

Mpumalanga’s reputation as one of the richest provinces in South Africa is also contested by the fact that it faces significant social and economic challenges.

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6. Limpopo 

The province of Limpopo spans an area of 125,754 square kilometers. Being the 6th richest sixth richest province in South Africa, its main economic contribution and activity is agriculture and mining.

South Africa’s giant agricultural status and envy will not have been possible without the notable inputs from Limpopo agricultural products.

Limpopo, South Africa

This province has enormous significant deposits of platinum, diamonds, lignite, and iron ore.

Limpopo’s significant contribution to South Africa’s mining and quarrying sector, in which it is the second-leading province, is one of its most important economic strengths.

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Aside from mining, the general government services sector is also a key contributor to Limpopo’s standing as one of the richest provinces in South Africa, accounting for 17.3% of the province’s GDP. Positively, itsprovince’s unemployment rate is the second-lowest in South Africa.

According to the National Department of Transport, Limpopo has the finest road conditions in South Africa, making its infrastructure an additional economic advantage. Additionally, Limpopo has the highest proportion of formal dwellings in the country, which provides residents with stable and secure accommodation.

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In addition, Limpopo’s tourism industry is a major contributor to its reputation as one of the wealthiest provinces in South Africa, as it is home to the world heritage-listed Mapungubwe Cultural Landscape. The province’s natural beauty and wildlife attract thousands of tourists each year, with Limpopo hosting about 80% of South Africa’s game hunting industry.

7. North West

North West, South Africa

With the joint highest proportion of households living in informal dwellings, North West is the third poorest province in South Africa.

It has several mining operations, including the Rustenburg Platinum Mines and the Kalgold Mine.

It has a number of game sanctuaries and parks, including the Madikwe Game Reserve, a prominent international tourist destination.

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8. Free State 

Golden Gate Highlands National Park, Clarens, Free State, South Africa
Golden Gate Highlands National Park, Clarens, South Africa

Free state is dubbed as one of the poorest provinces in South Africa. It spends the second-lowest amount on education and has the second-lowest number of doctors and professional nurses in the country.

Despite these challenges, Free State is the foremost province in the country for private businesses, which contribute 7.2% to its economy, indicating its strong entrepreneurial spirit.

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One of the significant strengths of the Free State’s economy is its strong agricultural sector. The province is often referred to as the “granary of South Africa” due to its abundant production of maize, potatoes, wheat, and other crops. Additionally, the province is a leader in the production of biofuels, contributing to the country’s energy security while providing a source of income for farmers.

Furthermore, the Free State’s economy is rich in mineral wealth, with its gold accounting for 20% of the world’s total gold production.

The province has 12 gold mines, producing 30% of South Africa’s output, and is home to the Harmony Gold Refinery and the Rand Refinery, the only two gold refineries in South Africa. It is also home to the country’s largest deposit of bentonite, found in the Koppies district.

The Free State’s high-technology industries, which account for 14% of the province’s manufacturing, are another significant economic strength.

Sasol, a world leader in the production of fuels, waxes, chemicals, and low-cost feedstock from coal, has branches in the province.

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9. Northern Cape

Northern Cape, South Africa

The Northern cape town is undoubtedly the poorest province in South African. Lack of constructive and adequate infrastructure is one weakness responsible for its poor status.

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