While South Africa still faces significant developmental challenges - including continued high levels of poverty, unemployment and inequality - the country has made progress in a number of areas, according to the government's 2012 Development Indicators Report.
Launching the report in Pretoria on Tuesday, Performance Monitoring and Evaluation Minister Collins Chabane said the sixth edition of the report indicated that the government was on the right track and making progress, despite tough local and international economic conditions.
"Admittedly more needs to be done to achieve the goals we set for ourselves in 1994. However, based on the data presented and other evidence, life has indeed changed since 1994, and we are making progress," Chabane said.
Produced annually by the Presidency in order to monitor the implementation of government policies and programmes, the report is based on data sourced from government administrative datasets, official statistics, and research by local and international institutions.
The report shows that, compared to 1994, more South African households are accessing basic services, matric pass rates have increased from under 60% to 73%, the crime rate - although still very high - is coming down, infant and child mortality rates are falling, and life expectancy has increased.
When it comes to access to basic services, the percentage of households with access to potable water increased from about 60% in 1994 to 96% by 2011/12, while those with access to electricity increased from about 50% to 76.5% and those with access to sanitation from 50% to 83.4%.
Formal housing has grown by 50% since 1994, translating to an additional 5.6-million formal homes since the country's first democratic elections.
South Africans' real incomes are also rising, according to the report, with the percentage of South Africans in the poorest living standards measures group (LSM1 to 3) having fallen from 40% in 2000/01 to about 12% in 2011, while those in LSM4 to 7 (the middle class) having increased from 42% to about 60%.
However, the indicators reveal that South Africa still faces a number of challenges, including a high crime rate, a poor health and education system, and decrease in confidence in the future on the part of South Africans.
According to the report, 58% of South Africans were confident of a happy future in 2012, compared to 72% in 2000, while 39% last year believed race relations were improving, compared to 72% in 2000.
At the same time, drug-related crimes have increased - from 135.1 per 100 000 people in 2003/04 to 348.5 in 2011/12 - along with a backlog in land claims and decreasing social cohesion among the country's race groups.
And while inequality has slipped slightly and poverty has fallen, the country's high unemployment rate - particularly among people under the age of 24 - has remained largely unchanged over the last decade.
Unemployment dipped only slightly between 2006 and 2008, when the economy was experiencing growth of above five percent, falling to a low of 22.3%, before climbing to 25.1% in 2012.
The Gini coefficient that measures inequality has slipped slightly, from 0.7 in 2000 to 0.69 in 2010 (with 1 representing complete inequality and 0 representing complete equality), but has risen in certain of South Africa's provinces.
The Western Cape has the lowest Gini coefficient at 0.62, while North West province has the highest at 0.73.
The biggest increases in inequality were in Mpumalanga province (from 0.63 to 0.69 between 2000 and 2010) and in North West (from 0.67 to 0.73 over the same period), while the biggest decline, from 0.72 to 0.67, was in the Free State.
Chabane said that his department was busy aligning all its strategic plans with the National Development Plan (NDP), and that this process would be completed by the time these plans were presented in Parliament at the beginning of next year.