The World Economic Forum (WEF) released the World Competitiveness Report 2013-2014 today. This year’s annual report indexes 148 countries in the world according to a variety of criteria, ranging from accounting to safety and from business sophistication to literacy.
As *Switzerland* retains its 1st place again this year as a result of its continuing strong performance across the board due to the country’s most notable strengths in innovation and labor market efficiency as well as the sophistication of its business sector (ranking 2nd in all three), *Germany* moves up by two notches to 4th place this year. The country is ranked an excellent 3rd for the quality of its infrastructure, boasting in particular first-rate facilities across all modes of transport. The goods market is quite efficient and is characterized by intense local competition (10th) and low market dominance by large companies (2nd). Germany’s business sector is very sophisticated, especially when it comes to production processes and distribution channels.
*Austria* is ranked 16th this year, demonstrating a stable performance since last year. The country benefits from excellent infrastructure (16th) and sophisticated businesses (8th) that are highly innovative (15th). This is underlined by an education and training system that does a good job of preparing the workforce, particularly through a strong focus on on-the-job training (5th). Despite the current difficult conditions, *Spain* goes up one notch in the rankings to 35th place. The country continues to leverage its traditional competitiveness strengths in terms of a world-class transport infrastructure (6th), a good use of ICTs (23rd), and—despite the high unemployment rate—a large and skilled labor force, thanks to one of the highest tertiary education enrolment rates in the world (8th).
h3. SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA
This African region continues its impressive growth rate of close to 5 % in 2012 (with similar projections for the next two years), providing something of a silver lining in an otherwise uncertain global economy. Indeed, only emerging Asia registers higher growth. Growth has largely taken place on the backs of strong investment, favorable commodity prices, and a prudent macroeconomic stance. There are, however, some regional variations, and in fact, in terms of underlying competitiveness, sub- Saharan Africa continues to reflect one of significant regional variations ranging from *Mauritius* (overtaking South Africa and coming in at 45th this year) to the lowest ranked *Chad* at 148th.
Economies with closer ties to advanced economies, such as *South Africa*, have not yet returned to pre-crisis growth rates. It s ranked 53rd this year, overtaking *Brazil* to place second among the BRICS member states. South Africa does well on measures of the quality of its institutions (41st), including intellectual property protection (18th), property rights (20th), and in the efficiency of the legal framework in challenging and settling disputes (13th and 12th, respectively). The high accountability of its private institutions (2nd) further supports the institutional framework. Furthermore, South Africa’s financial market development remains impressive at 3rd place.
*Rwanda* is ranked 66th this year, retaining its 3rd place in the sub-Saharan African region. As do the other comparatively successful African countries, Rwanda benefits from strong and relatively well-functioning institutions, with very low levels of corruption (an outcome that is certainly related to the government’s no-tolerance policy, and a good security environment. Also *Botswana* moved up five places to 74th, taking 4th spot in the region, mainly driven by a sounder macroeconomic environment and *Namibia* finally reversed its downward trend of recent years, improving by two places to reach 90th place. The country continues to benefit from a relatively well-functioning institutional environment (48th), with well-protected property rights, an independent judiciary, and reasonably strong public trust in politicians.
*Kenya* moves up by an impressive 10 places and is ranks 96th this year on the back of greater confidence in institutions (88th). The country’s strengths continue to be found in the more complex areas measured by the Index. Kenya’s innovative capacity is ranked an impressive 46th, with high company spending on R&D and good scientific research institutions that collaborate well with the business sector in research activities.
At the lowest end of the index *Zimbabwe* remains relatively stable at 131st position. Public institutions continue to receive a weak assessment, particularly related to corruption, security, and government favoritism, although overall the assessment of this pillar has improved somewhat since a few years ago. Yet major concerns remain with regard to the protection of property rights (137th), where Zimbabwe is among the lowest-ranked countries, reducing the incentive for businesses to invest. *Angola* re-enters the Index this year at 142nd place. As with its oil-exporting peers, a positive fiscal balance and low public debt contribute to a comparatively stable macroeconomic environment (54th), but much remains to be done across the board to build out the country’s competitiveness. Given its favorable fiscal stance, the country has a unique opportunity to invest revenues in competiveness-enhancing measures.
For the Economy Profile of South Africa, please download from our Information Library (“Click here for free download!(Download WEF Economy Profile South Africa)”:https://www.into-sa.comhttps://www.into-sa.com/uploads/download/file/176/SOUTH_AFRICA_-_WEF_Economy_Profile__2013-2014_.pdf)