Tunisia, S Africa, Botswana beat India, China in WEF ranking: the World Economic Forum's Global Competitiveness Report is now regarded as the most accurate barometer of how well--or badly--countries perform year by year. Some African countries have done exceptionally well this year, outranking the likes of India and Japan. Gordon Feller reports.

Author:Feller, Gordon

The World Economic Forum (WEF) has been producing The Global Competitiveness Report for 26 years and its unique mix of hard and soft data has made it possible to accurately capture the broad range of factors seen to be essential to a better understanding of the determinants of economic growth.

Each year it has delivered a comprehensive overview of the main strengths and weaknesses in a large number of countries, making it possible to identify key areas for reform and policy formulation.

The Global Competitiveness Report 2005-2006 rankings are drawn from a combination of publicly available hard data for each of the economies studied and the results of an executive opinion survey, a comprehensive assessment conducted by the WEF, together with its network of partner institutes (leading research institutes and business organisations) in the countries covered by this year's report.

Nearly 11,000 business leaders were polled in a record 117 economies worldwide. The survey questionnaire is designed to capture a broad range of factors affecting an economy's business environment that are key determinants of sustained economic growth.

Particular attention is placed on elements of the macroeconomic environment, the quality of public institutions which underpin the development process, and the level of technological readiness and innovation. The report provides a comprehensive summary of a country's overall position in the index rankings as well as a guide to what are considered to be the most prominent competitive advantages and competitive, disadvantages of each country. Also included is an extensive section of data tables with global rankings on over 100 indicators. While most of the countries of the sub-Saharan African region are less competitive on the global average scale, the region does have a number of relative success stories. These include South Africa (42nd), Botswana (48th), Mauritius (52nd) and Ghana (59th), the latter's competitiveness performance being even more notable, having improved by nine places since 2004.

Tanzania has also seen a significant improvement over the past year, moving up 11 places in the overall rankings. On the other hand, Namibia, a relatively good performer overall, lost 11 places over the past year, as, predictably, did Madagascar and Zimbabwe, losing 11 and 10 places, respectively.

Zimbabwe is a particularly sad case, whose quick descent to the bottom of the world's competitiveness rankings reflects the...

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