South African Rand Plunges to New 2023 Low Versus the US Dollar

Just a few weeks after tapping its best exchange rate versus the greenback in 2023, the South African rand fell to a new 2023 low of 18.636 local currency units for every dollar on March 7. South Africa’s power shortages as well as the country’s recent grey-listing by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) are believed to be fueling the rand’s slide.

10-Hour Power Outages

The exchange rate of the South African rand versus the U.S. dollar recently plunged to a new 2023 low of 18.636 units for every dollar on March 7, 2023, the latest data has shown. Before the latest plunge, the rand soared to 16.721 per dollar on Jan. 12, 2023, the currency’s best performance since the start of the year.

However, since then, the rand has depreciated by almost 10% making it one of the worst-performing African currencies in 2023. According to reports, the rand’s slide is blamed on South Africa’s unending electricity woes which have seen many homes and businesses go for more than 10 hours without power.

South African Rand Plunges to New Low Versus the US Dollar

The debilitating blackouts have since prompted South African president Cyril Ramaphosa to appoint the country’s first minister of electricity. Besides dealing with the crippling power cuts, president Ramaphosa said the new minister, Kgosientsho Ramokgopa, is expected to help facilitate the coordination of entities that are working towards finding a solution.

“The Minister will be expected to facilitate the coordination of the numerous departments and entities involved in the crisis response, work with the Eskom leadership to turn around the performance of existing power stations, and accelerate the procurement of new generation capacity,” president Ramaphosa reportedly said.

Meanwhile, some South African commentators have argued that the recent addition of South Africa to the Financial Action Task Force (FATF)’s greylist could be one of the reasons why the rand has recently performed poorly against major global currencies.

At the time of writing (4:10 p.m. EST, March 10), the rand-to-dollar exchange rate stands at just under 18.6 units per greenback.

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