In the World Economic Forum (WEF) 2011/12 latest global competitiveness report, Botswana has slipped 4 positions, from the 2010/11 position of 76 to 80 out of 142 countries assessed.
The Global Competitiveness Report (GCR) 2011-2012 is the world’s most reliable comparative assessment of competitiveness between countries and is used as a benchmark tool for policy makers and business leaders.
The GCR ranks countries on 12 competitiveness pillars that revolve around factors such as infrastructure, labour, technology, financial markets and macroeconomic stability.
Officiating the report last week, Linah Mohohlo, BoB Governor, said the decline in rating was concentrated in five areas which are infrastructure, macroeconomic environment, health and primary education, labour market efficiency and technological readiness.
Mohohlo said this year’s report makes ‘sobering reading’, given the worrying indications that previous advantages continue to be eroded as the country is failing to make headway in key areas on which future economic development will increasingly depend.
“In the group of 24 countries, Botswana features in the top 10 in less than half of the major categories. I need not remind you that Botswana is currently emerging from an economic downturn that has underscored the need to diversify the economy away from the dominant mining sector. The fact is that we cannot afford any more economic slippages,” Mohohlo said.
Botswana attained a modest improvement of 56 out of 134 countries in 2008, since then the story has been an overall decline to the extent that, out of 142 countries covered in 2011/12 report, Botswana is ranked 80.
“It is incumbent on all of us to arrest the situation before it degenerates,” said Mohohlo. “It is disappointing that we also show signs of slippage among a group of middle income economies that are classified by the WEF as making transition from resource dependency towards development based more on factors related to efficiency and productivity,” she said.
Mohohlo said the steep decline in the country’s performance in infrastructure was worrying, “especially at a time when government spending has been so extensive”. She added, “Hopefully, this investment will soon bear fruit when the beneficial externalities of upgraded roads and improved electricity supply unfold. Nevertheless, this serves as a timely reminder of the importance of both investment and adequate provision for maintenance.”
Technological readiness is another sector that pulled the country’s rankings down. Recently the government made significant investment in improving available internet bandwidth.
“It is a matter of concern that the country continues to make only slow progress in areas such as innovation and business sophistication sectors that are expected to be key to meeting future developmental objectives,” she said.
In the past four years, the most common concern among Botswana businesses was poor work ethic in the national labour force followed by an inadequately educated workforce.
BNPC Research consultant, Letsogile Batsetswe, highlighted that for Botswana to be globally competitive, there is need to benchmark with other top ranking countries.
He added that certain aspects need more focused strategy for Botswana to improve from policy, company and individual level. “Botswana needs improvement on human related factors of health, education and attitudes,” he said.