SAIIA Occasional Paper No 121, September 2012
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.