Petrol Price: How SA compares with rest of world


Fuel prices in South Africa continue to climb on the back of a weaker Rand and higher international fuel prices, but how does the cost of petroleum in South Africa compare with the rest of the world? Let's take a look... 

At the end of October last year we thought we had seen the worst when it came to the fuel price, how wrong we were. The price of fuel in this country is now at a record high after the cost of petrol rose by 82 cents and diesel by 85 cents at the beginning of June 2018.  

When you examine how South Africa compares with 60 other countries around the world with regards to the price of petrol, affordability and income spent on fuel, the results are both interesting and, eye-opening...

So, how does the price of petrol in South Africa compare with the world? 

Fuel in South Africa is expensive and we spend a huge portion of our incomes to buy fuel.

Petrol Price

The latest figures from show that the average price of fuel around the world is 1.17 U.S. Dollar per litre (R15.37).

According to Bloomberg data for the first quarter of 2018, South Africa ranks 20th alongside 60 other countries in terms of the price for 1 litre of petrol.  But one needs to consider that, as a general rule, richer countries have higher prices whereas the poorer countries (and those that produce oil) have significantly lower prices. The only exception is the U.S. which has an advanced economy, but low fuel prices. The difference in pricing is due to each country’s taxes and subsidies for fuel so basically, we all pay the same for fuel on the international market, but then decide to impose different taxes.

According to, the country with the cheapest petrol price is Venezuela, ranked 1st, with a petrol cost of 13 cents per litre. Iran is 2nd with a petrol price of R3.94 per litre. On this list, which lists 167 countries, South Africa is sitting at number 90.

Hong Kong, an autonomous territory in southeastern China, is ranked second to last, with petrol costing them R27.86.

Iceland has the planet's most expensive petrol at R28.12 per litre. What is aggravating to know is that many other African countries are paying far less for fuel than we do. Countries like Algeria, Nigeria, Sudan and Egypt, all pay less than R6 per litre. Other countries like Mozambique, Botswana, Ethiopia, Tunisia and even Lesotho all get their fuel cheaper too.

We are still looking better than places like Zimbabwe though who are having to fork out R18.66 per litre or petrol and if you’re in Mauritius you’re looking at R19.97.  


Unsurprisingly, South Africa ranks poorly in terms of affordability and is placed at rank 56. According to Bloomberg, South Africa has a daily income of R237.53 and consumers have to fork out 5.98% of that daily income to afford just 1 litre of fuel. 

India is the worst in terms of affordability with an average daily income of R70.80 and consumers spend 20.11% of that income to pay for 1 litre of petrol. Venezuela ranks first for affordability. With an average daily income of R613.83, Venezuelans spend less than 0.01% worth of wages to buy 1 litre of petrol. 

Income Spent

Yet again, and unsurprisingly, South Africa ranks even worse in terms of total income spent on fuel with a poor ranking of 60. According to Bloomberg, the average motorist in South Africa uses 202.07 litres of petrol a year, which swallows up at least 3.31% of your average salary. 

Mexico is the only country that is worse off. The average motorist in Mexico uses 355.48 litres of petrol per year, accounting for 3.82% of the average annual income.

Venezuela ranks 1st with motorists there using 483.76 litres of fuel per year yet only spending 0.00% of their salaries to pay for petrol. 

For the full list of petrol prices, visit Bloomberg’s brilliant interactive graphic here.

For cars that are light on fuel, you'd better check out our list of the most fuel efficient cars in South Africa.

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