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South African petrol price vs Australia, Canada, UK, and USA

South Africans are paying far more for petrol relative to the average take-home salary than many other countries around the world.

International crude oil prices are measured in U.S. dollars, as it is the world’s most widely held reserve currency, but this can result in fluctuating prices for other nations depending on the current exchange rate.

Certain countries, such as the United States, Russia, and the OPEC nations (mostly consisting of North African and Middle Eastern countries) are also major producers of oil, leading to much lower domestic prices for their citizens.

With all this in mind, this is how South Africa’s petrol prices compare to a few of its most common trade partners and expat destinations, namely Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Cost comparison

This is the most recent petrol price for each of the four countries being compared, as per GlobalPetrolPrices.com:

Country Local petrol price Petrol price in U.S. dollars
United States 1.01 USD 1.01 USD
Australia 1.65 AUD 1.08 USD
Canada 1.77 CAD 1.30 USD
United Kingdom 1.43 GBP 1.77 USD

The U.S. has the lowest price, which is unsurprising given it has significant oil stores and is a major exporter, while the UK is paying the most per litre as of May 2023.

Europe as a whole has been struggling with increased oil and natural gas prices ever since Russia invaded Ukraine in 2022, as Russia was a major supplier to the continent prior to having trade sanctions placed on it.

South Africa, meanwhile, is looking at a cost of R23.34 per litre as of May 2023, owing to the current dollar-rand exchange rate and domestic factors like taxes and levies.

For better context, here is what the price of petrol in every country comes to when converted into rands:

Country Local petrol price Petrol price in rands
United States 1.01 USD R19.84
Australia 1.65 AUD R21.20
South Africa 23.34 ZAR R23.34
Canada 1.77 CAD R25.60
United Kingdom 1.43 GBP R34.69

Exchange rates do play a role here, too, as the rand is currently trading at an all-time high of R19.76 to the U.S. dollar and R25.54 to the British pound as of the time of writing.

Even so, it appears that South Africa is somewhere in the middle when it comes to fuel costs, while the UK is paying noticeably more than its peers.

Of course, the cost of petrol doesn’t tell us much on its own; instead, it’s best to also look at the average salary to see which country is paying the most, relatively speaking:

These are the average monthly salaries for each country:

Country Average salary Average salary in rands
South Africa 26,032 ZAR R26,032
United Kingdom 2,996 GBP R73,184
Canada 5,469 CAD R79,500
Australia 7,284 AUD R93,945
United States 5,911 USD R116,708

It must be noted that average salary data should only be used as a rough indication, as it is highly dependent on the current exchange rate and other economic factors.

South Africa has a very high unemployment rate, which distorts its household income data, and the other countries on the list have a higher cost of living which reduces the purchasing power of their otherwise much larger salaries.

With that being said, the above data suggests that while South Africans are paying roughly the same for petrol as other countries, it accounts for a much larger proportion of the average income.

A big reason for this is the numerous local taxes and levies placed on fuel, which collectively raise the cost by more than R6 per litre, which can translate to an increase of nearly R500 on the cost of a full tank.


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