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Nigeria Falls in Competitiveness Rankings

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September 27, 2006/thisday





Nigeria has recorded a very steep fall in its global competitiveness as it ranked 101, out of 125 countries polled, in the Global Competitiveness  Index (GCI) rankings for 2006-2007 by the World Economic Forum (WEF).

In the GCI report, released yesterday by WEF, the country not only went down by 18 places from its last year’s 83rd position, but is now ranked below smaller African countries like Mauritius, Botswana and Namibia.

The GCI rankings are drawn from a combination of publicly available hard data and the results of the Executive Opinion Survey, a comprehensive annual survey conducted by WEF, together with its network of partner institutes (leading research institutes and business organisations) in the countries covered by the report.

Moreover, the country also lost 34 places (falling to rank 112) in the basic requirements sub-index, which highlights the fundamentals for achieving sustained growth, namely strong institutions, adequate infrastructure, a supportive macroeconomic environment, and good basic health and education.
However, by contrast, Nigeria did better on innovation (52), improving its position
vis-à-vis last year by 12 places by raising its rankings for company spending on research and development (R&D) and university/industry research collaboration.
The country also boosted its technological readiness, especially in the areas of Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) and technology transfer and firm-level technology absorption.
According to the report, “To boost the country’s growth potential, Nigerian policy-makers must focus on getting the basic priorities right.”
“While most other oil exporters saw their rankings soar for their macroeconomy, Nigeria slipped 35 places as it struggled to contain double-digit inflation and a widening of interest rate spreads, reflecting distortions in the financial system.

“There are also serious gaps in the quality of its institutions – especially public ones – as the country remains afflicted by perceived graft and security problems, as well as insufficient protection of property rights.

“As in other developing countries, infrastructure has not received sufficient policy prioritisation and school enrolment rates are very low by international standards.

“Finally, more needs to be done to reduce trade barriers, to increase competition, improve labour-employer relations and counter the loss of human capital through brain drain,” noted Augusto Lopez-Claros, Chief Economist and Head of the WEF’s Global Competi-tiveness Network.

Fourteen African countries were included in the report with Tunisia leading the pack standing at 30 position, an improvement from its 37th position in 2005.

South Africa also dropped by 5 places from last year and is now ranked 45, Mauritius retained its 55 ranking, Egypt dropped from 52 to 63 but Morocco improved in its ranking from 76 to 70.

Others are Algeria which stands at 76 from its 82 last year, Botswana moved from 72 to 81, Namibia also dropped from 79 to 84, Kenya from 93 to 94, Gambia gained from 109 to 102, Tanzania from 105 to 104, Benin from 106 to 105 and Cameroon dropped from 99 to 108.

Switzerland, Finland and Sweden are the world’s most competitive economies, according to the report. Denmark, Singapore, the United States, Japan, Germany, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom complete the top ten list, but the United States shows the most pronounced drop, falling from first to sixth.

According to the report, this year, over 11,000 business leaders were polled in a record 125 economies worldwide while the survey questionnaire was designed to capture a broad range of factors affecting an economy’s business climate that are critical determinants of sustained economic growth.

WEF annually delivers a comprehensive overview of the main strengths and weaknesses in a large number of countries, making it possible to identify key areas for policy formulation and reform.

However, it says this year marks an important progression in The Global Competitiveness Report’s methodology, with the adoption of a new, more comprehensive, tool to assess countries’ competitiveness, that is, the GCI.

Developed for WEF by Professor Xavier Sala-i-Martin of Columbia University, the new index, representing two years of collaboration with him and feedback from a broad set of users, extends and deepens the concepts and ideas underpinning the earlier index used by the Forum.

“The introduction of the Global Competitiveness Index is a logical extension of the World Economic Forum’s competitiveness work. Changes in the global economy and the increasing complexity which characterize the business environment have made it necessary to develop an instrument that captures a larger set of factors affecting the evolution of economic growth.

“We are confident that this index, elegant in design and with a strong conceptual underpinning, will become an important tool for dialogue with policy-makers and the business community on the key drivers of productivity,” Augusto Lopez-Claros said.

The World Economic Forum is an independent international organisation committed to improving the state of the world by engaging leaders in partnerships to shape global, regional and industry agendas.
Incorporated as a foundation in 1971, and based in Geneva, Switzerland, the Forum is a not-for-profit organization and is tied to no political, partisan or national interests.

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