Paper & the economy

The pulp and paper manufacturing industry is a key contributor to the South African economy. Since 1970, its annual growth rate has outdone the international average, contributing R35,26 million annually to South Africa’s economy. Much of this is invested in local resources, local innovation and local people power.

In 2009, the forest and forest product sectors  value-add was R23 billion, equating to 1.4% of South Africa’s gross domestic product (GDP). A total of 207,967 people are employed in the sectors value chain.

The industry is not without its own economic challenges but has been making a steady recovery since the 2008 recession which resulted in a decline in pulp and paper demand. Recovery is being driven mostly by packaging and tissue grades.

Pulp and paper’s direct contribution to South Africa’s balance of payments in 2010 was an impressive R4.5 billion. This is primarily due to the fact that Sappi’s chemical cellulose mill is a market leader and has increased production at its Saiccor mill in Umkomaas, KwaZulu-Natal.  Sappi is investing a further R2.4 billion in production of chemical cellulose at its Ngodwana mill in the province of Mpumalanga. This pulp has many end uses, primarily in textiles but it could also be used to produce bio plastics.

Refer to our Facts and Figures page for more information.