Eswatini slides one step in global competitiveness index

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Colleta Dewa

Johannesburg - The World Economic Forum's (WEF) has ranked the kingdom of Eswatini as the 121st most competitive economy in the world, on the Global Competitiveness Index 2019.

The ranking was out of 141 countries that participated.

The rating, however, depicts a decline by one position from last year’s ranking where the country stood at position 120 out of 140 countries.

The Global Competitive Index measures competitiveness of an economy by considering 12 factors that would determine the level of productivity in a country, including institutions, infrastructure, macroeconomic environment, health, education, labour market efficiency, financial market development, technological readiness, market size and innovation.

Business Eswatini administers the survey in the country on behalf of the World Economic Forum.

According to the chief executive officer of Business Eswatini, Nathi Dlamini, the decline in the rankings was a huge concern to the private sector, as it speaks volumes to the country’s competitiveness on the global stage. 

“It also does not bode well for our efforts of attracting and retaining much needed foreign direct investment (FDI) projects. Eswatini has been experiencing a steady inflation rate over the years. However, the rising public debt coupled with diminishing reserves has somewhat elevated concerns about the macroeconomic stability of the country,” Dlamini said.

Among other concerns, he said, was the cost of mobile data and services which remained one of the highest in the SADC region.

He said this resulted in low mobile and broadband penetration rates, comparatively speaking; hence the country had been ranked 119 under the pillar of ICT adoption, and 134 under innovation capability, which was closely linked to a thriving ICT sector.

“With the advent of the launch of the ePlatform, which most definitely will require massive amounts of bandwidth, the issue of data packages has just become extremely urgent.”

He said with an estimated life expectancy of 51.3, the country was among the worst performing countries on this pillar.

This, according to Dlamini, was a dire indictment on the state of the country’s unequal access to good healthcare combined with a deteriorating health care system.

“However, we are aware that government has taken this as a priority concern. Business Eswatini will continue to engage with policy makers on identifying quick wins that will improve the business enabling environment and allow the private sector to lead the economic recovery as envisaged in the Government Strategic Road map.”

The Eswatini Strategic Road map seeks to make the private sector a thriving partner in rejuvenating the country’s economy as well as implement private public partnerships (PPP).

 

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