The latest BankservAfrica Economic Transactions Index (BETI) for April showed the highest rebound since 2014.
This suggests economic activity lagged in the first months of 2019 owing to factors such as load shedding.
The BETI was released on Wednesday. It measures monthly transactions paid into the South African National Payments System, managed by BankservAfrica.
"The BETI increased by 1.6% in April on a month-on-month basis. It also showed significant growth on a quarterly and annualised basis," said Shergeran Naidoo, BankservAfrica's head of stakeholder engagements.
The actual number of transactions in the BETI was 103.4 million, a 6.6% year-on-year growth, said Naidoo. This is an indication of the delayed effect of load shedding in March, as transactions in that month declined by 1.4% on a year-on-year basis.
However, April's figure is still below the highs of October and November 2018 and, with most transactions now up-to-date, it is likely that May's numbers will return to ‘normal’.
The average nominal transaction increased by 3.2% on a year-on-year basis and carried an average value of R8 246 per transaction.
'Major change in direction'
"April’s BETI figure is a major change in direction and indicates that after the dismal first quarter of 2019, the economy is making great strides into positive territory in the strongest way possible," says Mike Schüssler, Chief Economist at Economists.co.za.
He cautions that April’s figures are also the result of the delayed transactions from load shedding in March.
April's figures are also the biggest change in direction since March 2010 – the end of the global recession.
"A monthly data point in isolation is not a trend but it does seem that the negative first quarter data was a little overblown with economic activity delayed – owing to load shedding – rather than canned. As such, we can say the April 2019 BETI data now records the ‘catch-up phase’," says Schüssler.
"Overall, April’s BETI [poses the question pf whether] South Africa is finally entering its Ramaphoria moment and if the long downward business cycle is over. Time will tell. But at least we have an encouraging sign. And, perhaps, with the elections over, we can get down to the business of growth again."