South Africa Loses No. 1 Rank As Most Competitive In Sub-Sahara

South Africa Loses No. 1 Rank As Most Competitive In Sub-Sahara

South Africa is no longer the most competitive country in sub-Saharan Africa; that title now belongs to Mauritius, according to the World Economic Forum’s global competitiveness index, BusinessDayLive reports.

Mauritius is an island nation in the Indian Ocean about 1,200 miles off the Southeast coast of Africa.

South Africa fell one place to 53rd on the World Economic Forum’s global competitiveness index, which ranks 148 countries. Mauritius, at No. 45, has overtaken 53rd-ranked South Africa as the region’s most competitive economy. Just eight countries in the Sub-Saharan Africa region feature in the top 100, according to a VoiceOfAmerica report.

The 2013-14 index, released today, reflects the opinions of more than 13,000 business leaders in 148 countries between January and May of 2013, the report said.

The index gauges 12 areas of competitiveness: institutions, infrastructure, macroeconomic environment, health and primary education, higher education and training, goods-market efficiency, labor-market efficiency, financial market development, technological readiness, market size, business sophistication, and innovation.

South Africa ranked low on labor-market efficiency, the index showed. It ranked 148th in co-operation in labor-employer relations, 144th in flexibility of wage determination and 147th in hiring and firing practices.

Problematic areas for Mauritius included inefficient government bureaucracy, insufficient capacity to innovate, corruption, low access to financing, and inadequate infrastructure.

South Africa has a population of 50.6 million and a gross domestic product of $384.3 billion, compared to Mauritius’ 1.3 million population and $11.5 billion GDP, the competitiveness report said. South Africa’s per capita income is $7,507. Mauritius’ is $8,850.

The index gave a “balanced and realistic assessment” of the South Africa’s socioeconomic strengths and weaknesses, according to Business Unity South Africa (BUSA).

“Although South Africa is still ranked 53rd this year, it should be recalled that a few years ago South Africa was 35th,” said Raymond Parsons with BUSA. “South Africa needs to critically interrogate the causes of this global competitiveness slippage.”

As in previous years, South Africa’s private sector, most notably the financial sector, ranked high. The country ranked No. 1 on the regulation of securities exchanges, and No. 2 on availability of financial services.

South Africa also ranked No. 2 out of 148 countries for financing through the local equity market.

“This all suggests a stronger basis for increased collaboration between the public and private sectors to enhance delivery, such as through public-private sector partnerships and similar measures, especially to expedite infrastructure roll-out,” Parsons said.