Following the recently released World Economic Forum report on the global competitiveness index, a measurement of countries’ productivity and investment landscape, one would expect high flyers like Nigeria, the continent’s largest economy, and South Africa, its most developed, to lead Africa’s economic train. But a less talked about island, Mauritius has emerged top of the pile, with the report indicating it has the potentials to grow faster than any other African economy.
“…the more competitive economy is one that is likely to grow faster over time,” the World Economic Forum (WEF) noted in the report.
VENTURES AFRICA reports that the ‘Global Competitiveness Report 2013-2014? showed that Africa’s economic powerhouses are not competitive enough and this may affect the long-term growth of these economies.
It explained that the competitiveness of economies is largely influenced by strong institutional environment and excellent innovation.
“Innovation becomes even more critical in terms of an economy’s ability to foster future prosperity,” said Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum.
Despite the challenges faced by Mauritius, being a Small Island Developing State, the Southern African country has been able to grow its economy from a low-income, agriculture-based economy to a middle-income diversified economy. It now ranks as sub-Saharan Africa’s most competitive economy at 45th, overtaking Africa’s second largest economy, South Africa which came second at 53rd on the list.
Nigeria became Africa’s largest economy when it rebased its GDP earlier in the year, but the country remains a low income economy and remains low in the competitiveness ranking at 120th. This highlights the need for the West African industry to diversify its oil-based economy.
No African country listed in the 30, showing the gap Africa still needs to cover to emerge a significant force in global economics.
East Africa’s largest economy Kenya however improved in the ranking, moving up 10 places to 96th.
14 out of the bottom 20 countries are African and only eight featured in the top 100, which underscores the need for profound efforts across the board to improve the continent’s competitiveness. No African country was in the top 20.
“I predict that the traditional distinction between countries being ‘developed’ or ‘less developed’ will gradually disappear and we will instead refer to them much more in terms of being ‘innovation rich’ v ‘innovation poor’ countries,” said Schwab.
It is therefore important for leaders in all sectors to collaborate in order to create education systems and enabling environments for innovation.