The South African economy fared well 2005-2010. The Rand (ZAR) remained strong against the dollar and the World Soccer cup has generated employment for many. After 2010 the ZAR started to slip. The Government owned South African Broadcasting Corporation was bankrupt. South African Airways was bankrupt, ESCOM, then national energy company was bankrupt, most municipalities are bankrupt or under financial strain. Moody's and other credit scoring companies have declared South Africa as junk status.
The economy is very diverse (agriculture, mining, manufacture, and the service industry). South African tourism is doing well and services are outstanding. Bed-and-breakfasts (B&B) have mushroomed all over the country and can be found in nearly every suburb.
Challenges: The country is highly unionized and strikes are common, including sympathy strikes, that has paralyzed the country at times and led to significant economic losses.
In 2010 South Africa roughly had the same economic output as Wisconsin, USA. It will be interesting to track over time. Poverty has grown as a problem, illegal immigration from other African countries has grown and this has caused internal strain between local and foreign workers.