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S. Africa economy drops by most in decade

The Associated Press

Construction cranes tower over Johannesburg in the Rosebank suburb in September 2018.

The Associated Press JOHANNESBURG (AP) — South Africa’s economy dropped by the most in a decade in the first quarter of this year, the government announced Tuesday, hurting newly elected President Cyril Ramaphosa’s efforts at growth and reforms.

The government said the economy declined by 3.2 percent in the first quarter of 2019 from the fourth quarter of 2018, when growth was 1.4 percent.

South Africa fell into recession briefly late last year, and some observers worry that sub-Saharan Africa’s most developed economy is slipping into it again.

Widespread power outages, the worst in years, were in part to blame for the first-quarter drop. South Africa’s important mining sector fell by 10.8 percent and manufacturing sector by 8.8 percent, with agriculture down 13.2 percent.

South Africa’s currency, the rand, quickly fell by more than 1 percent against the U.S. dollar after the announcement.

“It is a much worse number than expected, about double of what had been anticipated,” Viv Govender, senior analyst at wealth broker Rand Swiss, told The Associated Press. It was the largest drop since the 2008-2009 financial crisis, he said.

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