Opportunities exist for SADC region to increase competitiveness

“Improving competitiveness is key to lay the foundation for a solid future,” said Caroline Galvan, Lead Economist for Competitiveness and Risks in Africa at the World Economic Forum. (Image: WEF)

According to the World Economic Forum’s Lead Economist for Competitiveness and Risks in Africa, Ms Caroline Galvan, South Africa performs very well in the “more complex areas of competitiveness, such as innovation, technological readiness, and financial market development”.

Delivering a presentation on “Competitiveness in the Southern African Development Community” at a special workshop hosted by Brand South Africa and the World Economic Forum on Thursday 7 April, Ms Galvan said fundamentals such as infrastructure, health and education and a higher uptake of new technologies will be necessary for sustained growth to occur within the SADC region. The seminar precedes the annual session of the World Economic Forum’s meeting on Africa which will be hosted by Rwanda in Kigali from 11 to 13 May 2016.

SADC has been one of the fastest growing regional economic communities in Africa. However, in recent years, especially following the 2007-2008 global economic crisis, the region has stopped performing as well. Low commodity prices and turbulent global financial conditions have been affecting the region’s growth prospects. In light of these conditions, the workshop interrogated how the SADC region could regain its growth momentum in a sustainable way by 2020.

Premised on the Global Competitiveness Report 2015-2016, the workshop – which brought together leaders from the business sector, policymakers and development experts – provided an overview of the performance of SADC countries, which shows that productivity has slowed down in most countries in sub-Saharan Africa in the last decade.

“Low productivity impacts negatively on sustained, long-run growth in the region and levels of quality employment. Improving competitiveness is key to lay the foundation for a solid future,” added Ms Galvan.

However, the region has an opportunity to increase its competitiveness, which can contribute to improved economic growth, job condition and social conditions, by amongst others investing in infrastructure, the development of its human capital and technological readiness. Creating an enabling environment for investors to do business efficiently within the region will also contribute to improved levels of competitiveness.

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