The World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report 2017-2018 – an annual assessment of the factors driving productivity and prosperity in 137 countries – was released on September 27 2017.
Namibia has fallen by six places on the rankings for 2017-18 – down to 90th from 84th in 2016-17. Namibia’s score was also down – 3.99 from 4.02 last year.
Namibia ranks highly for its institutions (44th), infrastructure (67th), financial market development (50th), and labour market efficiency (33rd) but is rated poorly for the quality of its higher education (111th), health and primary education (110th), business sophistication (87th), technological readiness (89th), macroeconomic environment (107th), and market size (111th).
Access to financing followed by an inadequately educated workforce, inefficient government bureaucracy and corruption are listed in the report as the most problematic factors for doing business in Namibia.
The fall by six places in the overall ranking leaves Namibia a long way from Harambee Prosperity Plan target of being the most competitive economy in Africa by 2020. Namibia is now the seventh most competitive economy in Africa – one place lower than last year.
From the 2012-13 edition of the Global Competitiveness Report until last year, Namibia had improved by eight places – from 92nd to 84th. However, such gains have now been largely lost with this year’s ranking of 90th.
Concerted efforts to achieve the desired outcomes and goals of the Harambee Prosperity Plan could still see Namibia making more significant moves up the rankings before 2020. To achieve this several of the Harambee Plan’s proposed actions to improve competitiveness should be expedited. These include:
– Establishment of the single window for services to investors (partially realised by the launch of the NamBizOne portal in May 2017).
– Simplifying business registration procedures
– Support for practical training programmes
– Making the import of skilled labour easier
– Servicing more business and industrial plots
– Reducing the number of days it takes to register a property
– Increasing the percentage of Grade 10 and 12 learners achieving pass marks
– Incentivising tertiary institutions to achieve high positions in the rankings of best African universities
– Improving dialogue with the private sector
In addition, to ensure improved rankings going forward, government should:
• Introduce various investment incentives as stipulated in the Harambee Plan
• Clarify plans and intentions around the New Equitable Economic Empowerment Framework which is causing uncertainty among existing and prospective investors
• Similarly clarify plans and intentions around the Namibia Investment Promotion Act which has also stirred confusion among investors
• Relaunch the Namibia Investment Centre
The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) is the Partner Institute for the World Economic Forum in Namibia.
Graham has been the Executive Director of the IPPR since 2008. He has published widely on Namibian political issues, focussing on electoral practice, parliament, and anti-corruption strategies.