Several key African economies improved their performance in an annual ranking that compares the domestic and international logistics, business conditions, and digital readiness of the world’s 50 leading emerging markets.
Kenya, Ghana and Tanzania improved their position from 2022 in the 14th annual Agility Emerging Markets Logistics Index, which ranks emerging markets countries by factors that make them attractive to logistics providers, freight forwarders, air and ocean carriers, distributors and investors.
At No. 24, South Africa was the highest-ranking Sub-Saharan economy, ahead of Kenya (25), Ghana (29), Nigeria (34), Tanzania (37), Uganda (43), Ethiopia (45); Mozambique (46); and Angola (48).
Among countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, Nigeria had the best domestic logistics, 11th among the 50 countries. South Africa’s international logistics network performed best on the continent. Sub-Saharan Africa’s best business fundamentals were in Ghana. Kenya, which has taken steps to nurture digital startups, was Africa’s most digitally ready economy.
“Digital readiness starts with mobile phone and internet access. It’s relatively cheap compared with the cost of massive port, airport, road and infrastructure projects,” said Tarek Sultan, Agility Vice Chairman and CEO. “It’s a way for countries in Sub-Saharan Africa to accelerate growth and competitiveness.”
The Index includes a separate survey of 750 global supply chain industry professionals. In the survey, logistics executives were extremely upbeat about the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCTA). They identified the biggest benefits as: job creation, especially for women; reduced red tape for trade; lower costs of doing business; and a move to production of higher-value products in Africa.
China and India, the world’s two largest countries, held their spots at No. 1 and 2 in the overall rankings. UAE, Malaysia, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Thailand, Mexico and Vietnam rounded out the top 10. Turkey, No. 10 in 2022, dropped to 11th.
Arabian Gulf countries – UAE, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Oman — again offered the best business conditions. Malaysia, with the 4th best environment for business, was the only non-Gulf country in the top 5.
China and India were tops for domestic and international logistics. India jumped four spots to No. 1 in digital readiness, followed by UAE, China, Malaysia and Qatar.
Farther down, there was more volatility in the rankings than in any prior year of the Index. Conflict, sanctions, political tumult, economic missteps and continued COVID fallout damaged the competitiveness of Ukraine, Iran, Russia, Colombia, Paraguay and others. Among countries leaping forward in certain categories: Bangladesh, Pakistan, Jordan, Sri Lanka and Ghana.
2023 Index Highlights
- Net-Zero Commitment – 53% of logistics executives say their companies have committed to net-zero emissions, and another 6.1% say their businesses have achieved net-zero.
- Climate Change – Half say climate change is a concern their businesses must plan for, while another 18% say it is already affecting them.
- Emerging Markets – 55% say they will be more aggressive in emerging markets expansion and investing or leave their existing plans untouched despite fears of recession.
- Digital Forwarding – Respondents say the biggest advantage is improved tracking and visibility; the biggest disadvantage is error/exception management, respondents say.
- Ukraine – 97% indicate that their businesses have been hurt by higher costs or other supply chain challenges as a result of the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
- China – There is an even split between companies planning to reduce their reliance on Chinese sourcing and those planning to expand in China. But only 11% of respondents say their company’s manufacturing footprint is the same as before COVID.
- Gulf Economies – Innovation, technology and good conditions for small businesses are seen as the most important factors in lessening Gulf countries’ reliance on oil and gas.
- In the Middle East and North Africa, overall rankings were: UAE (3); Saudi Arabia (6); Qatar (7); Turkey (11); Oman (12); Bahrain (14); Kuwait (15); Jordan (16); Morocco (20); Egypt (21); Tunisia (32); Lebanon (33); Iran (36); Algeria (41); Libya (50).
- Overall Index rankings in Asia: China (1); India (2); Malaysia (4); Indonesia (5); Thailand (8); Vietnam (10); Philippines (18); Kazakhstan (22); Pakistan (26); Sri Lanka (30); Bangladesh (35); Cambodia (38); Myanmar (49).
- Rankings for Latin America: Mexico (9); Chile (13); Brazil (19); Uruguay (23); Peru (27); Colombia (28); Argentina (31); Ecuador (39); Paraguay (40); Bolivia (44); Venezuela (47).
- In Europe: Russia (17); Ukraine (42).
Transport Intelligence (Ti), a leading analysis and research firm for the logistics industry, has compiled the Index since it was launched in 2009.
John Manners-Bell, Chief Executive of Ti, said: “It is not possible to overstate the challenges faced by emerging markets countries in the past couple of years. Geopolitical tensions have combined with financial uncertainty and the lingering effects of the pandemic to create an ever more complex business and investment environment. The role that the Agility Emerging Market Logistics Index plays in providing insight into this volatile, uncertain environment landscape is more critical than ever.”