It’s not easy being a South African businessperson these days. The President opens his mouth and the currency crashes. The Unions are threatening more strikes and marches. And it doesn’t look as if the current administration has an appetite for the labour and legislative reforms the country so obviously needs. Longer term considerations look at the narrowing gap between SA and other African nations (Kenya and Nigeria spring to mind, but Ghana, Angola, Botswana and Mozambique should also be considered); and the horrific state of public education (the next generation of workers are being very badly prepared for the future world of work).

And yet, it isn’t all doom and gloom. The International Finance Corporation does annual lists of the world’s countries, ranking them according to a variety of factors that impact on doing business. This year’s rankings rate South Africa in 39th place (out of 185). Mauritius is the only African nation ranked above SA. And SA comes in ahead of countries such as Spain, Mexico, Poland, Turkey, Italy and others. Of the BRICS nation, SA is ranked the highest. See the rankings here.

Lists like these don’t tell the full story, of course. South Africa could be doing a lot better. But it’s also not as bad as some people would have us believe.

At TomorrowToday, we think that one of the key issues of concern in South Africa’s economic development is that business people have turned the economy of South Africa into something of an island. They don’t engage with politicians. They engage very little with civil society. They largely ignore Africa (except to treat it as a playground/sandpit/colonial marketplace). And many of them don’t engage with the realities of a globalising world. Hopefully, rankings like this provide an impetus to do all of these things, and work towards improvement.

After all, “a boer maak a plan” (rough translation: South Africans just get on with it).

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