Mining and Quarrying Booms, Forestry Declines in Third Quarter

By Phiwa Sikhondze

In the third quarter of 2023, Eswatini’s economic landscape presented a study in contrast within the primary sector which highlighted a remarkable boom in the mining and quarrying subsector, while the forestry subsector faced a significant downturn.

According to the Quarterly Gross Domestic Product (QGDP) report contained in the Central Bank of Eswatini’s (CBE) Economic Review and Inflation Report, 28 March 2024, the mining and quarrying subsectors experienced an extraordinary year-on-year growth of 88.8% in the third quarter, building on a notable growth of 46.5% from the previous quarter. This surge is attributed to the increase in the country’s coal production.

“Mining and quarrying activities mainly benefited from coal production, which grew by more than double on a year-on-year basis to reach a record high of 128,815 metric tonnes in the third quarter of 2023,” the report states.

This robust performance underscores the subsector’s resilience and its pivotal role in bolstering the primary sector’s output.

Conversely, the forestry subsector witnessed a sharp decline, with a year-on-year decrease of 51.0% in the third quarter, following a 22.5% drop in the second quarter. This downturn reflects the challenges faced by the forestry industry, including possible impacts from environmental factors and market dynamics.

The secondary sector grew at a slower pace of 4.9%, with the manufacturing sector’s growth decelerating to 2.1% due to a slump in food manufacturing, particularly in sugar processing and dairy products. However, beverage manufacturing showed a positive trend, growing by 5.0%.

The tertiary sector, accounting for approximately 53% of total GDP, continued its robust performance with double-digit growth. The services sector, especially the ‘information & communication’ and ‘tourism-related activities’ subsectors, contributed significantly to the overall GDP growth.

The contrasting trends in the primary sector—with mining and quarrying booming and forestry declining—highlight the dynamic nature of Eswatini’s economy. As the country moves forward, the focus will likely be on sustaining the growth momentum in high-performing areas while addressing the challenges in sectors that are lagging.

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