Southern Africa is the largest region in Middle Africa, stretching from the DRC in the north to South Africa in the south. The region has at its core the Southern African Development Community (SADC), which is made up of Angola, Botswana, the DRC, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Madagascar and Seychelles are not covered in this guidebook as neither Ecobank nor our partner, Nedbank, have operations there. Tanzania is covered in the East Africa section, as the country is a member of both the EAC and SADC.
SADC is dominated by South Africa, by virtue of its large and diversified economy, and also its role as a regional hub for trade, services and investment into Southern Africa. South Africa is a leading supplier of minerals to the world market, including platinum, diamonds, gold, iron, coal, manganese, chromium and titanium, as well as of soft commodities to both regional and global markets, notably sugar and grains. Minerals dominate the economies of the block’s other large members, including Angola & the DRC (oil & gas), Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and Zimbabwe (diamonds), Mozambique (aluminium, gas & coal) and Zambia (copper). The region also trades large volumes of soft commodities, notably grain and sugar, which move from surplus to deficit regions depending on the annual crops.
Given the wide geographical reach of the SADC and the various trade blocks with which it overlaps, the level of integration varies greatly. Countries within the Southern African Customs Union (SACU)–Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa and Swaziland–are among the most integrated in Africa, bolstered by their strong integration into South Africa’s trade flows and transport infrastructure. Trade links between South Africa and Mozambique have been enhanced by the Maputo Development Corridor, linking the industrial Gauteng province with Maputo Province. However, trade links with the periphery members of SADC, notably the DRC and Angola, are poorly developed.
South Africa has the largest and most sophisticated banking sector in Sub-Saharan Africa, focused on Johannesburg, with several of the region’s strongest financial institutions.