Productivity South Africa, a state-owned entity tasked with promoting growth and productivity, has urged the government to address the root causes of the country’s international competitiveness decline.
The entity says it will meet with the government departments to discuss how to overcome the challenges that led to the country’s slump – the second year running – in terms of business efficiency, economic performance, governance efficiency, and infrastructure.
According to the 2023 World Competitiveness Yearbook (WCY) compiled by the Swiss-based Institute of Management Development (IMD), South Africa’s international competitiveness ranking has slumped to 61 out of 64 countries rated in 2023.
Productivity South Africa is IMD’s information partner. In the 2022 ratings, the country was in position 60.
Productivity SA CEO Mothunye Mothiba said they would be “engaging” the top leadership of the Department of Employment and Labour, the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (DTIC) and the Department of Higher Education and Training to get them to do something about the labour market and business efficiency issues.
“We will also be discussing issues around productivity, management practices and regulatory framework as it relates to creating a conducive environment for entrepreneurship and sustainable enterprises. The DTIC has already developed a master plan in terms of economic performance, so we must all rally behind them and give them support,” said Mothiba.
On the issue relating to infrastructure, we will have a meeting with the Department of Higher Education and Training. They have already highlighted how to focus on digitalization and technology when addressing the issue raised on technology, digitalization and other related issues,” he added.
Mothiba said the IMD report which indicated the performance in terms of governance, economic performance, labour market, business efficiency and infrastructure was an essential tool that the government and all the relevant stakeholders could use to develop improvement plans.
He added that another important thing about the rating was the fact that it outlines clearly where the country needs to improve as it measures the progress made. Apart from South Africa, other BRICS countries ranked as follows: Brazil (58 to 60), India (37– 40), and China (17-21).
Russia was not included due to the current war in Ukraine. Ukraine has been excluded for the same reasons. Botswana moved from 58 to 59).
The top five nations are Denmark (ranked number one), followed by Ireland, Switzerland, Singapore and the Netherlands.
Speaking at the same visually held conference, Mamphoku Khuluvhe, a director of marketing at the Department of Higher Education and Training, said her department had already started working on issues that would improve the competitiveness of South Africa’s future professionals.
“This report allows us to also learn from other countries that are included as part of this year’s report. We found the report to be useful in assisting us to improve. Some of the issues highlighted will act as directives in policy development and indicate the issues to prioritise.”
The Chief Economist at Productivity SA, Dr Leroi Raputsoane, said the latest decline in the world competitiveness ranking follows two years of underperformance in the rankings since 2021.
“The ongoing underperformance of South Africa in the world competitiveness rankings is a symptom of the continued inadequacy of the national efforts to address the socio-economic challenges that are faced by the country.”
Samson Nougbodohoue, a senior statistician from the African Union (AU), said the AU was working on assisting African countries to improve their competitiveness internationally.
He said one of the AU’s agenda was to assist the continent to improve its competitiveness internationally.
“Agenda 2063 is a strategic framework for the socio-economic transformation of the continent over the next 50 years. It builds on and seeks to accelerate the implementation of past and existing continental initiatives for growth and sustainable development.”