Occasional Paper

The Economic Gateway to Africa? Geography, Strategy and South Africa’s Regional Economic Relations

“The paper argues that South Africa’s role as an economic gateway primarily depends upon geography, ie upon naturally given and man-made structures in geographical space. Based upon these structures, politicians and businessmen have to pursue the right
strategies in order to maintain the gateway status. Hence, the paper examines South
Africa’s location, physio-geographical conditions in Southern Africa and regional transport infrastructure. It then takes a closer look at South Africa as a hub for regional headquarters of multinational companies; a hub for logistics and distribution activities; a sourcing hub
for regional markets; and a financial hub for regional markets. Although these analytical steps reveal that South Africa does serve as an economic gateway for other African states, there are emerging challengers to the South African gateway. The paper concludes by highlighting how the South African government tries to foster the gateway role by transportrelated and trade policy strategies.”