Index woe


South Africa’s Parliamentary official opposition, the Democratic Alliance alliance this week presented what it called a comparative analysis of the country’s performance in 20 key international indices since 1994.

A Parliamentary leader Athol Trollip said he took no pleasure in “Africa’s powerhouse” slipping in most indices. Neither do we.

Trolip noted that SA’s place had fallen in 16 out of 20 indices monitored. A candle in the darkness, at least, is that SA’s place improved in three.

The DA MP said the research was is in response to the Presidency’s annual release of its Development Indicators Mid-term Review Report.

The 20 indices ranked various countries in six key areas namely governance, economic development, poverty and inequality, education, information technology and global interconnectedness and lastly, the environment.

They are a mixture of qualitative and quantitative research methods and outputs and from them it is possible to draw out trends and make strong inferences on how country is performing in these six areas.

“Where possible we analysed these indices over a five year period, since 1994 up to the latest year they were released,” Trollip said.

The indices are:

  1. Trends in International Mathematics and Science study – Maths: 21st place (1995) to 46th in 2003. SA withdrew in 2007. A fall of 25 places.

  2. Trends in International Mathematics and Science study – Science: 21st place (1995) to 46thin 2003. SA withdrew in 2007. A fall of 25 places.

  3. Global Peace Index: 99th in (2007), 116th (2008), 123rd (2009). A drop of 24 places.

  4. Environmental Performance Index: 76th (2006), 97th (2008). A fall in 21 places.

  5. Failed States Index: 36th (2006), 44th (2007), 52nd (2008), 55th (2009). A fall in 19 places.

  6. The Network Readiness Index: 34th (2004/05), 37th (2005/06), 47th (2006/07), 51st (2007/08), 52nd (2008/09). A drop in 18 places.

  7. Human Development Index: 119th (2004), 120th (2005), 121th (2006), 121th (2007/08), 129th (2009). A fall in 10 places.

  8. Corruption Perception Index: 44th (2004), 46th (2005), 51st, (2006), 43rd (2007), 54th (2008). A drop in 10 places.

  9. E-readiness Index: 32nd (2004), 32nd (2005), 35th (2006), 35th (2007), 39th (2008). A fall in seven positions.

  10. Globalisation Index: 48th (2005), 49th (2006), 49th (2007), 48th (2008), 54th (2009). A fall I six places.

  11. Ease of Doing Business Index: 28th (2006), 37th (2007), 35th (2008), 32nd (2009), 34th (2010). A drop in six places.

  12. Index of Economic Freedom: 55th (2005), 55th (2006), 53rd (2007), 58th (2008), 61st (2009). A drop in six places.

  13. African Governance Index: 6th (2000), 7th (2002), 5th (2007), 5th (2008), 9th (2009). A drop of three places.

  14. Climate Change Index: 30th (2006), 46th (2007), 33rd (2008): A drop of three places.

  15. Index of Democracy: 29th (2006), 31st (2008): A fall of two places.

  16. Progress in International Reading Literacy Study: 40th (2006) Ranked last

  17. Global Competitiveness Index: 45th (2005/06), 36th (2006/07), 44th (2007/08), 45th (2008/09) 45th (2009/10) Ranked the same

  18. Mother’s Index: 37th (2006), 27th (2007), 30th (2008) 31st (2009). Improved six places.

  19. Global Gender Gap Index: 18th (2006), 20th (2007), 22nd (2008), 6th (2009). Improved 12 places.

  20. Global Hunger Index: 30th (2007), 14th (2008), 14th (2009). Improved 16 places.

Trolip avered that is is clear from this that SA is back-sliding internationally and that

  • the country’s economy is becoming less free and open;

  • the country is deteriorating when it comes to promoting good, honest and transparent governance and protecting democratic rights and freedoms;

  • citizens are not being provided with a proper education and the necessary skills to develop themselves;

  • the country is falling behind developed countries when it comes to information technology and;

  • the country’s natural resources are under threat due to inadequate environmental policies and protection initiatives.

The DA – predictably – blamed the ruling African National Congress, in power since 1994, and government policy for this decay.

There is certainly some truth to this, and ANC as well as government policy as well as practice must carry some of the blame.

But what of Joe Public?

South Africa has long been a mediocre society in which excellence is shunned. South Africans are also past masters at talking the talk and then vigorously talking the walk.

The DA is correct. SA is back-sliding and in many respects is falling behind its peers (Brazil, India, Malaysia, etc) and neighbours (East Africa in the case of ICT, for example).

However, until excellence is praised and mediocrity is shunned; until we stop talking and rather get walking, the slide will continue.

Tim Cohen in a recent Business Day opinion peace noted that SA was snubbed by its BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India China) peers when they met in Yekaterinburg in the Urals earlier this year.

The term was coined by investment bankers at Goldman Sachs some years ago. Cohen noted earlier this month that the investment house has now come up with an “ancillary notion”, the next 11 (N11), a group of states it considers as having a high potential of becoming the world’s largest economies in the 21st century along with the BRIC states.

Goldman Sachs used macroeconomic stability, political maturity, openness of trade and investment policies, and the quality of education as criteria, the wikipedia adds.

They are Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Philippines, South Korea, Turkey and Vietnam.

Notable in its absence is SA.