SA highest ranked country in sub-Saharan Africa

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Pretoria - South Africa is the highest ranked country in sub-Saharan Africa, according to a report by the World Economic Forum (WEF).

"South Africa moves up by four places to attain 50th position this year, remaining the highest-ranked country in sub-Saharan Africa and the second-placed among the BRICS economies. The country benefits from the large size of its economy, particularly by regional standards (it is ranked 25th in the market size pillar)," read the Global Competitiveness Report 2011-2012.

The report was released on Wednesday by the WEF and assesses the ability of countries to provide high levels of prosperity to their citizens, depending on how productively they use available resources.

This year's report features a record number of 142 economies, including developed and developing nations.

South Africa was found to be doing well on measures of the quality of institutions, property rights and the accountability of its private institutions, among others.

"Particularly impressive is the country's financial market development (4th), indicating high confidence in South Africa's financial markets at a time when trust is returning only slowly in many other parts of the world," it noted.

The country was also found to be doing "reasonably" well in more complex areas like business sophistication (38th) and innovation (41st) and strong collaboration between universities and the business sector in innovation (26th).

"These combined attributes make South Africa the most competitive economy in the region. However, in order to further enhance its competitiveness, the country will need to address some weaknesses," said the report.

South Africa ranks 95th in labour market efficiency, with rigid hiring and firing practices (139th), a lack of flexibility in wage determination by companies (138th), and significant tensions in labour-employer relations (138th).

The report also called for efforts to be made to increase the university enrolment rate of 15%, which places South Africa 97th overall, in order to better develop its innovation potential.

The country's infrastructure, which is good by regional standards, requires upgrading. The report also found that poor security remained an obstacle in doing business in South Africa.

"The business costs of crime and violence (136th) and the sense that the police are unable to provide protection from crime (95th) do not contribute to an environment that fosters competitiveness."

The report expressed concern at the health of South Africa's workforce, which is ranked 129th out of 142 economies. The ranking is as a result of high rates of communicable diseases and poor health indicators.

According to the report, South Africa and Mauritius remain in the top half of the rankings, having advanced in the last year. 

The report also added that in sub-Saharan Africa, there have been measurable improvements across specific areas in a number of other African countries. The report found that generally sub-Sahara Africa as a whole lags behind the rest of the world in competitiveness.

Mauritius ranked 54th, while Rwanda ranked 70th and Botswana 80th - putting them in the group of top ranked countries in sub-Saharan Africa. 
The report shows that Africa's competitiveness has been improving in recent years in specific areas, with many countries ensuring more sustainable fiscal policies, better-managed inflation and more efficient markets.

Many African countries are low in the ranking with 13 of the 20 lowest ranked economies being from Africa.

"Looking forward, African economies must continue to develop economic environments that are based on productivity enhancements."

Switzerland tops the overall rankings followed by Singapore. - BuaNews

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