The Global Competitiveness Report (2012/2013) compiled by the World Economic Forum (WEF) carries both good and bad news for Botswana. The good news is Botswana is now ranked 79 out of 144 nations, an improvement from last year by one place.
This is mainly due to improvement in 2 out of 3 sub-indexes (basic Requirements and Innovation and sophistication indicators). WEF uses 12 pillars to determine Global Competitiveness Index (GCI).Of the 12 pillars, Botswana is ranked in the top half in only four, being institutions, good market efficiency, labour market efficiency and financial market development.
The bad news is, despite Botswana government investing a significant amount of money on education and health, the country is ranked 114 out of 144 and 95 out of 144 nations on the pillars of Health and Primary Education and Higher Education and Training respectively.
The report observes that Botswana’s strengths are its relatively reliable and transparent institutions (33rd), with efficient government spending, strong public trust in politicians, and low levels of corruption. Although improving since last year, Botswana’s macroeconomic environment remains of some concern and is ranked 81st this year.
However, Botswana’s primary weaknesses continue to be related to its human resources base. Education enrollment rates at all levels remain low by international standards, and the quality of the educational system receives mediocre marks. Yet it is clear that by far the biggest obstacle facing Botswana in its efforts to improve its competitiveness remains its health situation. The rates of disease in the country remain very high, and health outcomes are poor despite improvements in fighting malaria and reducing infant mortality.
Batho Mohwasa, a Motswana Quantity Surveyor based in the UK, points out that Botswana’s education system is not aligned to meet the skills requirement in the employment market. He said to solve this, there has to be an audit of our education system and engagement of employers to find out what are the skills gap. Mohwasa is of the view all educational curriculum should be refined in line with work place competency requirements.
Mohwasa said the issue of global competitiveness is something he is very passionate about because our success as individuals depends on how the world perceives our country’s competitiveness. He said if our country is deemed uncompetitive, the same will apply to local companies and individuals.
He recommended that Botswana should follow the Singapore model. “Just like Singapore, we need to know which battles we have to fight through identifying what our strategic competitive advantages are and use them to position the country as a regional hub for investment in Africa. I consider Africa as the last economic frontier due to anticipated sizeable investment from BRIC economies and continued investment from western countries into Africa and hence it is important for us to establish how we position our self as a nation to benefit from this imminent economic boom,” Mohwasa said.
The World Economic Forum’s Global Benchmarking Network also acknowledged the input of Botswana National Productivity Centre staffers who contributed immensely in the compilation of the country’s research information. The three employees are Letsogile Batsetswe, Research Consultant and Statistician, Baeti Molake, Executive Director and Phumzile Thobokwe who is Manager, Information and Research Services Department.
As in previous years, this year’s top 10 remain dominated by a number of European countries, with Switzerland, Finland, Sweden, the Netherlands, Germany, and the United Kingdom confirming their place among the most competitive economies. Along with the United States, three Asian economies also figure in top 10, with Singapore remaining the second-most competitive economy in the world, and Hong Kong SAR and Japan placing 9th and 10th. Switzerland retains its 1st place position again this year as a result of its continuing strong performance across the board. South Africa is ranked 52nd this year, remaining the highest-ranked country in sub-Saharan Africa and the third-placed among the BRICS economies. The country benefits from the large size of its economy, particularly by regional standards (it ranks 25th in the market size pillar). It also does well on measures of the quality of its institutions and on factor allocation, such as intellectual property protection (20th), property rights (26th), the accountability of its private institutions (2nd), and its goods market efficiency (32rd).