The World Economic Forum has released its latest Global Competitiveness Report, ranking 140 economies around the world in what they claim is “the most comprehensive assessment of its kind.” The 2015-2016 report takes into account factors as diverse as corruption and digital infrastructure and has become a vital resource since its inception in 2004.
Looking at African economies, what the findings show is that consistent growth does not equal competitiveness. Some countries are still behind when it comes to education and health, and that is reflected in their overall scores. However there have been some positive stories this year, most notably Cote d’Ivoire jumping 24 places in the global rankings.
- Mauritius – It may seem like an unlikely winner, but Mauritius’ “power house economy” has come top in Africa for the second year running. Mauritius, ranked 46th globally – down from 39th in 2014-2015 – has benefited from political stability and a tourism industry that sees nearly a million visitors travel to the island group every year. Despite the slip down the global rankings, the nation still scored strongly in terms of infrastructure, business sophistication and higher education, with jewellery production and large-scale sugar cane farming accounting for a large amount of exports.
- South Africa – Reversing its four-year downturn, South Africa seven places in the global rankings, largely due to the increased uptake of digital technology – a factor facilitated by improvements in internet bandwidth and overall availability.
- Rwanda – Within the top 20 nations globally for quality of its institutions and labour market efficiency, Rwanda continues its five-year ascent. Its tea industry may be growing, but low infrastructure, health and higher education rankings are preventing it climbing higher up the rankings.
- Botswana – Known as an economy bolstered by its diamond industry, Botswana is recovering from the global financial downturn which wiped out 30% of the sector. There is still considerable work to be done in amending inefficient government bureaucracy and labour force work ethic, but its position within Africa’s top economies by its macroeconomic environment and, amongst other things, one of the highest rates of mobile phone subscription in the world.
- Namibia – With favourable goods market efficiency and strong scores within technology, Namibia has all the factors in place to build upon its renewable energy sector, improving since places since 2012-2013, the country stakes its claim as the fifth most competitive economy in Africa.
- Cote d’Ivoire – This year’s highest riser, Cote d’Ivoire jumped 24 places globally off the back its strengthened financial market and domestic competition. Access to financing remains a big issue for the world’s largest cocoa exporter, but the quality of its institutions have improved markedly.
- Zambia – Tourism in Zambia, including trips to Livingstone and Victoria Falls, is a key factor behind growth. But whilst its macroeconomic environment is steady and its institutions are moving in a positive direction, infrastructure still leaves much to be desired.
- Seychelles – The World Economic Forum was only able to use data from their 2014 survey when assessing the Seychelles. Its GDP, buoyed by strong tourism, is much higher than the region as a whole, but market size and development of financial systems are both inhibitors for overall competitiveness.
- Kenya – Corruption is the most problematic factor when it comes to business in Kenya, according to WEF. Strong indicators include labour market efficiency and financial market, but the country has slipped nine places down the global table compared to last year.
- Gabon – Built on timber, oil and mining sectors, Gabon’s GDP sits considerably above the Sub-Saharan average. Rating strongly for its macroeconomic environment, Gabon’s respectable institutions indicator is let down by efficiency enhancers and innovation factors.