The latest Economic Freedom of the World Report, while limited in its scope, provides an opportunity to see how African economies fare in comparison with the rest of the world. As NEIL FORD reports, Africa comes out looking good.
The Economic Freedom Network (EFN) has published its latest league table of economic freedom in 123 states, including 33 in Africa. As expected, African countries dominate the lower reaches of the table but perhaps surprisingly two states have reached the higher echelons of the global rankings, while many more African nations have moved a long way up the table.
From the outset, it should be acknowledged that most of the EFN's members, such as the Cato Institute in the US and Canada's Fraser Institute, are firmly placed on the libertarian or liberal side of the economic debate and so the survey tends to favour minimal state interference and maximum business freedom.
However, the survey does provide an indication of the general attractiveness of each of the listed countries destinations for investment.
Given that the survey considers the same countries under the same criteria each time it is conducted, it is perhaps of most use in comparing change over time and so scores and rankings have been provided for both 1990 and 2001 in the main table. The list of 33 African entries is topped by Mauritius, which also achieves an impressive global ranking of 20th along with Germany and Chile. Africa's number two, Botswana, is ranked alongside Norway, Sweden, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan, indicating that some African economies are as open as many in the West. However, at the other end of the scale African countries fill five of the bottom six places in the global table, although Myanmar comes last.
A glance at the top three African countries for 2001 indicates that the EFN survey has some validity. Any African observer would place Mauritius, Botswana and South Africa near the top of their lists of the most favourable African countries for investment.
Similarly, any observer would have noted that Uganda's ranking in recent years has greatly improved. The land locked East African state was ranked bottom out of the 33 in 1990 and now achieves joint fifth place--an incredible improvement and a reflection of the extent to which the government has adopted economic reforms.
Namibia's higher ranking in 2001 is also to be expected, given the enormous strides made in a country that was still effectively...