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Counting the Cost

Examining Mandela's economic legacy

We look at how the late South African president revitalised his country's economy and what has been squandered since.

Last updated: 14 Dec 2013 10:26
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South Africans have been celebrating the life of Nelson Mandela who died on December 5 at the age of 95.

But what did he do for his country? On Counting the Cost we look back on how the late South African president revitalised his country's economy, but we also look at how so much has been squandered since then.

There is no doubt about the political and democratic change Mandela helped bring to South Africa.

His struggle, his imprisonment, his release, and his presidency were all so formative and they also changed the country's economic fortunes, remembering the years of damage wrought by apartheid-era sanctions.

Between 1994 and 2012, South Africa's growth averaged about 3.3 percent, double the growth of the previous 13 years.
 
Inflation, which was running at 14 percent before 1994, fell to 5 percent within 10 years. The country's budget deficit, which was eight percent in 1997, fell to 1.5 percent in 2004, and in the 14 years after 1996, the proportion of South Africans living on $2 a day fell from 12 percent to 5 percent.

South Africa was a country which knew only international isolation and internal segregation but which is now growing and counts itself as a member of exclusive clubs like the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa).

However, unemployment is still very high in the region, and inequality remains as a great challenge - the top 10 percent in South Africa earn 110 times more than the bottom 10 percent.

So what then is Mandela's legacy for South Africa and what progress has the country made since the end of apartheid?

Myanmar's oil boom

On Counting the Cost this week, we also look at Myanmar's oil boom where the prospect of oil is luring thousands of poor people from the countryside, and where the oil rush is powered by 19th century technology and backed by family and friends.

Oil was first discovered in central Myanmar in the 19th century, during the military regime's rule, and in that time land was confiscated.

It was not very profitable until a civilian-led government took over several years ago.

The state oil company was returned it to the farmers, and that has led to an oil rush in the country.

So is this the best way of handling the oil business in Myanmar? Are the farmers ready to manage the resource? And is this an example other countries can follow?

Watch each week at the following times GMT: Friday: 2230; Saturday: 0930; Sunday: 0330; Monday: 1630.  Click here  for more Counting the Cost.

Follow Kamahl Santamaria  @KamahlAJE  and business editor Abid Ali @abidoliverali 

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Source:
Al Jazeera
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