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Making Africa More Competitive


A new report tells how Africa can better compete economically in the world. It's been released at the World Economic Forum on Africa in Cape Town, South Africa.

The Africa Competitiveness Report 2009 is a joint effort by the World Economic Forum and the African Development Bank.

The forum's Jennifer Blanke, co-author of the report, spoke to VOA from Cape Town about Africa's standing on the world economic stage.

"We're finding that overall African countries tend to be less competitive than many other regions. When you talk about competitiveness, you're talking about the productivity of nations for the capacity to produce goods and services, provide employment and so on," she says.

However, there are a few of what she calls "shining lights" in Africa, countries that are "quite competitive by international standards." These include South Africa, Botswana and Mauritius.

Two short-term, three long-term recommendations

"In terms of the two short-term issues.… To enhance access to finance…resisting calls for rising protectionism, so not raising trade barriers," she says.

For the long-term, she says, "We're looking at the importance of improving infrastructure, particularly transport or energy…improving health and education systems…and finally…improving governance and institutions and creating more business friendly environments in Africa."

Good governance vital for growth

"Basically, it's the institutional or the governance environment that sets the rules of the game, allows for a level playing field and ensures all of the actors understand and have faith in the market… This is the key issue underlying everything else," she says.

Some recommendations are easier to implement than others.

"For example, resisting protection pressures, that's a question of political will. Really, it's just a question of policy. Looking at things like infrastructure, this is something that requires big investments that will have to be developed over time," she says.


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