Mauritius overtakes South Africa to top Sub-Saharan economies in global competitiveness rankings

By bne IntelliNews September 4, 2013

Mauritius moved up by nine places to the 45th place out of 148 countries in the 2013-2014 Global Competitiveness Report, released by the World Economic Forum (WEF), overtaking South Africa and becoming the highest ranked country in Sub-Saharan Africa. Mauritius benefits from relatively strong and transparent public institutions, with clear property rights, strong judicial independence, and an efficient government, the report said. Private institutions are rated as highly accountable, with effective auditing and accounting standards and strong investor protection. The country’s infrastructure is well developed by regional standards, particularly its ports, air transport, and roads. It has also seen notable improvements in the areas of market efficiency, as financial markets have deepened on the back of improved access to different modes of financing and financial services.

South Africa has climbed by one place to the 53rd position, doing well on measures of the quality of its institutions and showing an impressive financial market development. The country also has an efficient market for goods and services, and it does reasonably well in more complex areas such as business sophistication and innovation. But its strong ties to advanced economies, mainly the eurozone, have made it more vulnerable to their economic slowdown and have contributed to the deterioration of the macroeconomic environment. The report notes that the security continues to be a major concern for doing business, while the quality of the educational system and the labour market efficiency are very poor.

Rwanda ranked 66th this year, retaining its third place in sub-Saharan Africa. The East African country benefits from strong and relatively well-functioning institutions, with very low levels of corruption and a good security environment, by efficient labour markets, relatively well developed financial markets, and a good capacity for innovation. The major challenges for Rwanda in improving its competitiveness are the state of the country’s infrastructure, its low secondary and university enrolment rates, and the poor health of its workforce.

The list of the sub-Saharan Africa economies, included in the 2013-2014 Global Competitiveness Report, is completed by Botswana (74th), Seychelles (80th), Namibia (90th), Kenya (96th), Senegal (113th), Ghana (114th), Nigeria (120th), Tanzania (125th), Ivory Coast (126th), Ethiopia (127th), Liberia (128th), Zimbabwe (131st), Mozambique (137th) and Angola (142nd).

The report notes that despite significant regional variations sub-Saharan Africa as a whole trails the rest of the world in competitiveness, requiring efforts across many areas to place the region on a firmly sustainable growth and development path going forward. The profound infrastructure deficit is mentioned as a major hurdle, while other challenges include the poor health and education and weak technological uptake. On the other hand, the region shows a comparatively stronger performance in market efficiency, with South Africa, Mauritius, and Kenya ranking in the top 20% in financial market development.

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