Brand SA

WEF Global Competitiveness Report

The latest WEF Global Competitiveness Report and its implications for the country came under the spotlight at an experts' panel discussion hosted by Brand South Africa in Johannesburg.

South Africa’s strengths, weaknesses, competitive risks and opportunities within the Brics and Next11 international political economic environments were the topics at the Wits Club at the University of the Witwatersrand.

The panel discussion included Brand South Africa’s research manager, Petrus de Kock; Josephilda Nhlapo-Hlope, senior expert on nation-building at the National Planning Commission; Raymond Parsons, special policy adviser for Business Unity South Africa; and Johan van der Heever, senior deputy chief economist and deputy head of research at the Reserve Bank of South Africa.

Miller Matola, CEO of Brand South Africa, started the proceedings with some background on the work Brand South Africa does and how the WEF report is a factor in establishing a worldwide reputable brand for the country.

Matola said: "We are the custodians of the country’s brand and the issue of reputation is important for South Africa’s competitiveness. The competitiveness report shows us how the country is doing as a brand."

The latest WEF Global Competitiveness Report was released on 5 September 2012 and South Africa is ranked at number 52 out of 144 nations.

It is also the highest-ranked African country and third-placed among the Brics economies. In this bloc, China came in first at 36 and Brazil second at 48, while India and Russia came fourth and fifth at 59 and 67 respectively.

In terms of Next11 countries, South Africa is only surpassed by Indonesia, Turkey and South Korea.

De Kock said: "We view the report as a learning curve and not as a school report card that says pass or fail.

"We can only sell the story of South Africa if we know what the world thinks about us."

South Africa’s ranking on the WEF report has been consistent, coming in at 54 in 2010, 50 in 2011 and 52 for this year.

The Global Competitiveness Report uses 12 pillars, which are "building blocks to finding out the country’s competitiveness," said de Kock.

They are: institutions; infrastructure; macro-economic environment; health and primary education; higher education and training; goods market efficiency; labour market efficiency; and, technological readiness.

De Kock said: "When we look at the pillars we can see where we are excelling and where we have to improve.

"We are doing relatively well when it comes to institutions as we were 47 in 2010 and this year we are 43, but health and primary education are challenges - in 2010 we ranked 124 but this year out of 144 countries we are ranked 132."

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