"Several instructive factors can be gleaned from the survey - recognised as the world’s leading authority on competitiveness. What we as a nation need to do during the course of the year ahead is to build on the positives and do our level best to reverse the negatives."
The Yearbook, compiled by global business school IMD, ranks countries in terms of how well they manage their economic and human resources to enhance their prosperity. Country data, derived from a survey of more than 4 200 international executives, are evaluated through 329 criteria grouped into four competitiveness factors:
South Africa is ranked 50th in terms of these overall criteria – two places ahead of last year’s ranking.
Among the BRICS country rankings, Matola points out that only South Africa and Russia, which improved from 49th to 48th, gained ground. Brazil slipped from 44th to 46th, India from 32nd to 35th and China from 19th to 23rd.
He notes that South Africa’s improvement stemmed largely from government efficiency – "Home Affairs and Health were obvious drivers here" – along with social factors like income distribution, gender income ratios, cost of capital, adaptable central bank policies and foreign currency reserves.
Matola cites Hischam El-Agamy, IMD executive director, as having pinpointed improvements in government’s efficiency, which gained to 29th from 32nd last year, as one of South Africa’s prime highlights.
Other gains include:
IMD identifies employment growth, poverty reduction, education quality, health outcomes, corruption and the development of an effective public sector as the main "challenges" facing South Africa.
Matola is confident that South Africa will climb further up the table when the survey is once more conducted a year hence.
"The current huge infrastructure improvement programmes also promise a sustained improvement to our future competitiveness on the all-important infrastructure leg of the assessment.
"We dare not become complacent with our current position, given especially that the competitiveness report is one of the prime factors referenced by foreign investors."
"As a nation our competitiveness continues to improve on the most important international benchmarks like this IMD report and the World Economic Forums Global Competitiveness Index – both of which rank us at number 50.
Hong Kong, the US and Switzerland are ranked as the world’s top-three in terms of competitiveness, with Greece and Venezuela ranked as the least competitive.