[dropcap]S[/dropcap]outh Africa rose seven places in terms of economic competitiveness on a ranking released Wednesday by World Economic Forum (WEF), which, said President Cyril Ramaphosa, serves as an acknowledgement of the country’s structural reforms.
The fact that South Africa has been able to improve its ranking “so remarkably” and within a relatively short period of time “is a welcome sign that the structural reforms put in place to stimulate the economy … are slowly but surely gaining traction,” Ramaphosa said.
The WEF’s annual Global Competitiveness Report ranks drivers of productivity and long-term economic growth in 141 economies under a range of socio-economic indicators, such as strength of institutions, infrastructure, ICT (information and communication technology) adoption, financial systems, market size, business dynamism and innovation capability.
According to the report, South Africa rose seven places to 60th in 2019, beating fellow BRICS members India, which fell 10 places to 68th, and Brazil (71st). China (28th) and Russia (43rd) remain well ahead.
South Africa registered “remarkable progress” in regard to institutional quality, such as in restored balance of powers across different states’ entities, enhanced administrative efficiency of the public sector and corporate governance, said the report.
South Africa also achieved a score of 100 for its “well-developed equity, insurance and credit markets,” and ranked 19th globally as a regional financial hub, it said.
The report also scores the country highly for having “one of the most advanced transport infrastructures in the region” and being “among the top countries in Africa” for market size.
“Whilst we note there are areas for improvement, the report cites security and insufficient labor market flexibility as some of the constraints to growth. This improved ranking gives us added impetus to remain firmly on course with our economic reform agenda,” Ramaphosa said.
The president said the country is also looking forward to the release of the World Bank’s ease of doing business index later this year.
South Africa ranked 82nd among 190 countries in the index last year.
The government has set an objective to be ranked amongst the top 50 countries on this index by starting businesses, registering properties, dealing with construction permits, paying taxes and trading across borders.