South Africa economic growth slows to 0.9%

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionThe BBC's James Copnall says the figures are a "significant blow"

South Africa's economic growth slowed sharply in the first three months of the year.

According to official figures, between January and March, the country's economy grew by just 0.9%, compared with the previous quarter.

The figure has raised concerns that Africa's largest economy is struggling to regain momentum.

It grew by 2.5% last year. Compared with the same three months in 2012, South Africa's economy grew by 1.9%.

Much of the slowdown in growth is being attributed to closures for maintenance in several crucial industries, notably the petroleum sector.

Nicky Weimar, senior economist at Nedbank, said: "To put it mildly, it's a very disappointing number."

"It's a very tricky situation for the monetary policy committee [of the central bank] - growth is obviously a lot weaker than they thought," he added.

Last week, South Africa's Reserve Bank kept interest rates at 5%, saying it was "increasingly concerned" about the economy's "deteriorating outlook".

Inflation is forecast to rise later in the year. It is currently running at 5.9%, just below the government's target of 6%.

Upward pressure is being put on prices by the weakness of the rand, which is at its lowest level in four years.

South Africa's economy has been struggling since a recession in 2009. Violent strikes in the mining sector last year saw output plunge.

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites