1.1 The SIC is a classification of economic activities of industries. An industry consists of establishments engaged in the same or a closely related kind of economic activity based mainly on the principal class of goods produced or services rendered. The term "industry" is used in the widest sense to cover all economic activity from the primary industries of agriculture, forestry, fishing and mining to the rendering of social, recreational, cultural and personal services.

1.2 The SIC is not a classification of commodities. Commodities are the products of industries (including the services rendered) or the materials and consumable stores used by industries or the products (including the services) bought and sold by particular industries or goods bought by consumers. Commodities are commonly associated with particular industries, e.g. the clothing industry and the rubber industry, but it must be borne in mind that each industry generally turns out a variety of commodities which, although related, could nevertheless be accommodated separately in a commodity classification.

1.3 The SIC must also be distinguished from the classification of occupations, the aim of which is to classify persons according to the nature of the work in which they are employed (e.g. accountant, typist and boilermaker) and often without taking into account the industry in which the persons concerned are employed. A standard classification of occupations is obtainable from the Stats SA.


2.1 The objective of the SIC is to classify collected statistical information as far as possible according to categories of activities which are as homogeneous as possible. The appropriate unit for the collection of the data, and hence for its classification according to kind of economic activity, is either the establishment-type or the kind-of-activity unit. These basic statistical units are defined in the following two paragraphs.


3.1 "Establishment" is defined as the smallest economic unit which operates as a separate entity and for which all elements of the basic industrial statistics which would allow the calculation of the operating surplus, can be reported.

3.2 In most cases, an establishment is co-extensive with a firm, that is it is an economic unit which engages under a single ownership or control, i.e. under a single legal entity, in one or predominantly one kind of economic activity at a single physical location (e.g. an individual farm, mine, factory, workshop, store or office). However, many firms have more than one establishment as defined. In some cases, the establishments controlled by a single firm engage in the same kind of economic activity at different locations, sometimes in the same town or magisterial district and sometimes in different towns or magisterial districts. In other cases, the establishments controlled by a single firm engage in different kinds of economic activity, even at the same address. These activities may be classifiable under different major divisions of the SIC, for example a firm with an establishment engaged in fishing - classifiable under Major Division 1 - and another which processes fish - classifiable under Major Division 3; or they may be classifiable under the same major division, for example a firm controlling an establishment which tans leather and another which manufactures footwear.

3.3 Establishments engaged in different activities but for which the basic industrial statistics cannot be reported separately are classified on the basis of the principles set out hereunder.

3.3.1 In the case of establishments that are engaged in activities assigned to more than one major division of the SIC, cognisance is taken of the main activity. For example an establishment may manufacture goods and, in addition to selling its manufactured goods to wholesale and/or retail establishments, also buy goods for resale. If its principal activity is manufacturing, the establishment is classified under Manufacturing; on the other hand, if an establishment is principally engaged in trading, wholesale or retail, it is classified under Trade.
The principal activity is determined from the net values added by each different activity, i.e. the net value added in the case of manufactured goods and gross profit in the case of purchased goods resold (factored goods). Where this is not practicable, the gross output associated with each kind of activity is used as basis. In the case of establishments operating in the same major division the basis of classification is the gross income obtained from the various final products produced or products dealt in or services rendered.

3.3.2 With regard to the classification of certain establishments whose production activities are vertically integrated, cognisance is taken of the nature of the final product. For example a clay pit may be combined with the production of pottery, china and earthenware and structural clay products. Such establishments are classified under the industry indicated by the final product. This principle is, however, not applied to limeworks which, for historical reasons, are classified under Major Division 2 (Mining and Quarrying). Other exceptions are the production of gold bullion by smelting on gold mines, which is included with gold mining, whereas the crushing of stone (which is normally carried out in conjunction with quarrying) is classified under major Division 2 (Mining and Quarrying), irrespective of whether such activities are carried out at stone quarries or elsewhere.

3.3.3 In cases where the different activities of an establishment have a significant bearing on the statistics concerned, the principle is adopted that the activities concerned are regarded as separate establishments and estimates of the basic industrial statistics are made if separate data are not available. For example an establishment that is engaged mainly in trading could also be manufacturing certain products. The significant contribution of its manufacturing activities to the total production statistics in the manufacturing subgroup concerned may necessitate the separating of the particular information from the other data and its inclusion in the subgroup concerned.


4.1 The kind-of-activity unit differs from the establishment (as defined in paragraph 3 above) in that there is not the same restriction in respect of the geographical area in which a given kind of activity is carried on by a single legal entity. The kind-of-activity unit serves as a statistical unit, especially in the fields of construction, transportation and electricity, since in these industries a single legal entity may carry on its activities over a wide geographical area. In such cases, the kind-of-activity unit (used as a statistical unit) is the controlling branch office in the case of construction and transportation, and the network of producing units or the undertaking as such in the case of electricity production and distribution. In such cases some information (e.g. employment and salaries and wages) may be available for individual projects and consequently it is sometimes collected on a magisterial district basis (as in the case of construction).


5.1 Economic administration and activities cannot be carried out without the support of a number of ancillary activities such as bookkeeping, transportation, storage, purchasing, sales promotion, cleaning, repair and maintenance, security, etc. Ancillary activities are therefore those that support the main productive activities of an entity by providing non-durable goods or services entirely or primarily for the use of that entity. Outputs resulting from ancillary activities are sold on the market only incidentally. When some of these products are sold on the market, however, such products become secondary products; for instance, if an enterprise, which generally consumes its computer services internally, incidentally sells some of these services on the market, these services become secondary products.

5.2 Since production processes are generally not viable without administration and the support of a certain number of ancillary activities, the latter should not be separated to form separate entities even though these activities may be carried out in a separate location and even though separate records may be available. Also, these activities should not count in determining the classification of the entity to which they belong. Apart from administrative entities (head offices), examples of entities carrying out ancillary activities are sales departments, warehouses, distribution depots, repair shops and accounting or computer departments which primarily serve their parent units. A practical solution to cases where these activities are carried out by separate entities is to assign to such entities the classification of the firm as a whole. This can be dealt with in the records of the establishments making use of the services of these entities, as charges for administrative and ancillary services.

5.3 Under the description given in paragraph 5.1 above, the following activities are not to be considered ancillary:

(i) The production of goods or doing work that is part of fixed capital formation. The type of units most affected are those doing construction work on the account of their parent unit. This approach is in accordance with the classification of own account construction units for which data are available, to the construction industry.

(ii) Activities, of which the output although used as intermediate consumption by the economic activity, is for the greater part sold on the market.

(iii) The production of goods which become a physical part of the output of the economic activity, e.g. the production of boxes, tin cans or the like by a division of an enterprise, as packaging for its own products.

(iv) Research and development. These activities are not universal and they do not provide services that are consumed in the course of current production.

In all these cases, if separate data are available in respect of these activities, separate units should be distinguished and they should be classified according to their own activities.


6.1 In this Classification government-owned and operated establishments are classified according to the same general principles as those governing the classification of establishments in the private sector. The aim is to classify as "Public administration and defence" (Division 91) only those establishments engaged in activities of a purely governmental nature, such as the administration of justice, the collection of tax and defence. Examples of departments and divisions of departments of the Central Government classified under industries other than "Public administration and defence" include the Government Printing Works and the vaccine production of the Department of Agricultural Development. In the case of local authorities the activities of abattoir, electricity, gas, housing, market, passenger transport and water and sewerage divisions and cleaning services are grouped with similar business activities of the private sector.


7.1 Repair services

7.1.1 The principle adopted for classifying repair services is that all establishments specialising in, or primarily engaged in any given type of repair work should be classified in the same division of the SIC as establishments which, in addition to their main activity, undertake such repair services to a significant extent. In this manner the greater part of each type of repair service is brought together in the same category.

7.1.2 In accordance with this principle, establishments primarily engaged in or specialising in the following repair services are classified under Retail Trade: The repair of footwear, luggage, handbags and other leather goods; the repair, servicing and installation of electrical household and personal appliances such as radio and television receivers, sound recording equipment, gramophones, radio transmitting equipment and antennas in homes, household refrigerators, washing machines, irons and vacuum cleaners, bread and other food toasters and electric razors; watch, clock and jewellery repairs; the repair of lawnmowers; locksmithing; the repair of bicycles; and the repair of other consumer and personal goods such as binoculars, cameras and other photographic equipment, musical instruments and toys; the repair of motor vehicles and motor cycles, including work done by panelbeaters and spraypainters and automotive electricians.

7.1.3 Establishments specialising in or primarily engaged in the repair and servicing of office and accounting machinery and of computers and computer peripheral equipment are classified under Division 86 (Computer and related activities).

7.1.4 Establishments specialising in the repair of furniture (including upholstery), factory equipment, ships and boats, railroad equipment and aircraft are classified under the same group as the establishments manufacturing the class of commodity being repaired. Automotive engineering establishments primarily engaged in reconditioning and/or rebuilding engines and other automotive parts (irrespective of whether this is done primarily for the trade or on own account) are included under Manufacturing.

7.1.5 The renovation/repair of buildings is included under Construction.

7.2 Other activities

Except in cases where there are special categories (e.g. transport, storage and packaging) establishents carrying out activities on a fee or contract basis (e.g. irradiation) are classified under the same group as establishments that do such activities for own account and at own risk.


Establishments that sell goods under their own name and on their own risk but that have the actual production done by others are classified as if they produce the goods themselves, provided that they have considerable influence on the conception of the products or, in the case of the manufacturing industry, they own the materials to be transformed.


The numbers used to identify the major divisions, divisions, major groups, groups and subgroups are arranged according to a decimal system. Each subgroup consists of five digits - the first digit denotes the major division, the first and second digits together the division, the first three digits together the major group, the first four digits together the group and the full five digits the subgroup.

In cases where a given level of the classification is not further divided into categories of the next level of classification "0" is used in the code position for the next more detailed level. For example the code for major group "Mining of gold and uranium ore" is 230 since the division "Mining of gold and uranium ore" (code 23) is not divided into major groups. The code for the group "Mining of iron ore" is 2410 since the major group "Mining of iron ore" (code 241) is not divided into groups. The code for the subgroup "Chrome" is 24210 since the group "chrome" (2421) is not divided into subgroups. On the other hand the group "Mining of chemical and fertilizer minerals" received the code 2531 since the major group "Mining and quarrying n.e.c." (253) is divided into more than one group.

An exception to this rule has been made in major division 3. In order to accommodate 10 codes for divisions in this major division,  it was necessary to use a code 30 in stead of 31 for the first division code.


10.1 Differences in the coding system

With the revision of ISIC a new coding system was used. A separation was introduced in the coding structure in order to make the classification responsive to the tabulation needs of certain users. A letter was used for the first digit to single out broad tabulation categories, in contrast to the coding itself which remained purely numerical at the two, three and four-digit levels. The SIC grouping was, however, retained in 10 major divisions as before. A list of SIC divisions with corresponding ISIC tabulation and division codes appears in table of differences.

10.2 Other differences between the SIC and ISIC

In this issue of the SIC it was endeavoured to follow ISIC as a rule. The following deviations were, however, necessary:

(i) A further division "Service activities incidental to mining of minerals" was established under Mining for the classification of establishments providing such services to mines on a fee or contract basis.

(ii) A further major division was established (Major division 0) to cover (over and above the activities of private households and exterritorial organisations which are also grouped in different divisions in ISIC) the activities of foreign governments stationed in South Africa as well as other activities not adequately defined.


While the fourth edition of the SIC which was based on ISIC Rev. 2, this edition of the SIC is based on ISIC Rev. 3. Since that ISIC Rev. 3 departs from ISIC Rev. 2 in many instances, differences also occur between this and the previous edition of the SIC.

11.1 Major differences

11.1.1 Agriculture, hunting, forestry and fishing

This major division was extended to distinguish the growing of crops from the farming of animals and from mixed farming.

11.1.2 Manufacturing

A new major group was created under this major division to provide for the recycling of waste and scrap.

11.1.3 Construction

This division has been regrouped to provide separately for site preparation, the construction of buildings and civil engineering structures, building installation, building completion and the renting of construction machinery with operators.

11.1.4 Trade

A distinction has been made between specialised and non-specialised stores, between shops dealing in new and used goods and between retail in stores and not in stores.

11.1.5 Transport

Supporting and auxiliary transport activities are grouped regardless of the mode of transport they serve.

11.1.6 Financial intermediation, insurance, real estate and business services A new division (85) has been created for the renting and leasing of machinery and equipment without operators. A further new division (86) has been created for all computer related activities. It includes the repair and maintenance of computers and office machines. Provision has been made for packaging activities on a fee or contract basis (Group 8895). Research and development activities that were previously classified under community, social and personal services have been transferred to division 87 of this major division.

11.2 Minor changes

Minor changes occurring on a group or subgroup level are included in the correspondence tables.

Back to table of contents

Back to preface