Headline Nov 04, 2014/



SOUTH AFRICA has made much of its induction two years ago into the vaunted BRICKS club, consisting of:

Brazil, Russia, India and China, adding an S to the acronym. But it has been a struggle to justify the country's inclusion.

With an economy just a quarter of the size of the smallest member  [India]  and a population little more than a third of its least-populous one  [Russia], a main qualification claimed for it is that:

South Africa is ''the gateway to Africa".

The continent's economy is now the second fastest-growing in the world, its population is more than a billion strong  -not much behind China or India's-, and its collective GDP of nearly $2 trillion is bigger than either Russia's or India's.

All the same, is South Africa, still undoubtedly Africa's most powerful and sophisticated country, doing quiet as well as it claims?

It did indeed once serve as a landing slot for investors wary of venturing into shakier African countries to the north. But in the past couple of decades the continent as a whole has become a lot more peaceful, democratic and stable.

The economy of Nigeria, with some  158 million people to South Africa's 50 million, has been roaring along at an annual rate of almost 7% for the past eight years  -and may even become Africa's biggest by 2016, with Egypt (82m people) hot on its heels.

Business Unity South Africa, the country's main employers' organisation, worries that South Africa is falling behind Kenya and Nigeria, among others.

If Egypt settles down politically, it could become yet another magnet.

Over the past many years, South Africa, with the richest mineral deposits in the world, has fallen 17 places in the Canada-based Fraser Institute's annual survey of mining-investment attractiveness:

To 54th out out of 93 countries and provinces. Unfortunately over the  ANC's nationalisation policy is partly to blame.  

In the Swiss-based World Economic Forum's Global Competitiveness survey, South Africa comes top in sub-Saharan Africa  and  50th out of 142 in the world.

In the World Bank's  "Ease of Doing Business"  table it comes  35th out of 183 and second in Africa  -after Mauritius.

For the soundness of its  auditing standards and regulation of its securities exchanges, it is second to none, just after South Korea.

But it gets poor marks for the rigidity of its labour market, its shortage of skills and, above all, for the perception that corruption is sharply rising.

South Africa to some extent begun to create oligarchs in the Russian mould, says UBS. That could deter investors.

In its second  "Africa Attractiveness Survey", published in May, Ernst & Young, a London- based professional services firm, ranked South Africa fourth in Africa in terms of foreign-direct investment inflows in  2003 - 11.

Yet when measured in terms of the number of FDI projects, South Africa was still easily the leading investment destination.

Ernst & Young expects  FDI  inflows into South Africa to average around $10 billion a year for the next five years, creating  125,000 jobs-

Whereas Nigeria is expected to get $23 billion a year, but with only  95,000 new jobs.

KPMG, another professional-services firm, thinks the whole idea of a gateway into Africa is dated.

Entry into African markets now depends more on the nature of development, it says in a recent report.

As a result, there are now several gateways,  "obviously"   including South Africa, but with Egypt, Kenya, Mauritius and Nigeria, among others, -

"Representing no less [of an opportunity].

South Africa is still attracting some big investments, such as Walmart's purchase some years ago, of Massmart, a South African retailer, for $ 2 billion.

But plainly it must look to its laurels.

With respectful dedication to the Students, Professors and Teachers of South Africa. See Ya all on !WOW!  -the World Students Society Computers-Internet-Wireless:

"' A Still Out In Front  "'

'''Good Night and God Bless

SAM Daily Times - the Voice of the Voiceless


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