Tunisia has been ranked as the most competitive country in Africa by the 2009 report published in Cape Town, South Africa, by the African Development Bank (AfDB), the World Bank and the World Economic Forum on competitiveness of the continent.
The country was ranked 36th at the world level; Tunisia earned a score of 4.6 points, ahead of South Africa (4.4 points), Botswana (4.2 points) and Mauritius (4.2 points). Morocco ranked fifth with 4.1 points.
Presented on the fringes of the 19th World Economic Forum on Africa, held on June 10-12 in Cape Town, this annual report is grounded on statistical data and surveys involving some twelve sectors (institutions, infrastructure, macro-economic stability, education and training, health, market size, market efficiency, technological preparedness, business sophistication, innovation,etc.).
It appears from this report that the Tunisian economy is much more diversified and closer to the European markets. Tunisia is one of the three highest-ranked countries in 8 of the 12 pillars, while Mauritius and South Africa are both among the top three in 7 pillars.
The country is characterised by transparent government policymaking, low levels of corruption, and high levels of confidence in the government.
The country’s institutions, which have been favourably assessed for a number of years, are one of its major competitive advantages.
Tunisia has set up a developed system of enterprises’ guidance as a driving force of investment and employment. This system has 25 enterprises incubators, 24 business centres and 21 one-stop shops, in addition to the start, this year, of the creation of 21 new industrial areas in the country and the connection of 24 other industrial or services areas to a fibre-optic communication network.
Tunisia is ranked alongside South Africa and Mauritius among the highest-ranked countries in the region in the area of technological readiness, while other countries did quite poorly overall and were well behind the Organisation of Economic Development and Co-operation (OECD) average.
Actually, Tunisia has adopted a strategy designed to improve its economic competitiveness by enhancing quality and making the most of communication technologies.
With regard to new information technologies, efforts are focused on easing access to these technologies, which has helped increase the number of Internet subscribers to 286,000 and the number of the network’s users to 2,310,000, in 2008. The country has also 8.375 million mobile and fixed telephone subscribers.
A well-functioning health and educational system, as well as sound levels of domestic competition and a strong innovative capacity round out the positive picture.
Actually, Tunisia has generalised health services and enjoys the ratio of one doctor per 900 inhabitants, with a social cover rate of 93%.
In terms of infrastructure, Mauritius, Namibia and Tunisia are top-ranked countries in Africa. These countries are characterised by good transportation infrastructure, particularly their roads and ports. They are ranked higher than several European Union member countries, including the Czech Republic, Lithuania and Hungary.
The report points out that the country is equipped with infrastructure that meets international standards, in particular a network of motorways extending over 360 kms, which is likely to enhance the competitiveness of its products and ease access to different regions of the country.
There are also projects for enhancing ports’ infrastructure in the country through the creation of a deep-water port which should strengthen the country’s position in the Mediterranean, all the more so that Tunisia has been chosen as starting point of the project of sea highways.
Projects for specialisation and modernisation of commercial ports were devised by updating the master plan of ports to help them cope with the growth of traffic.
In matters of health and primary education, the top three regional performers are Mauritius, Morocco and Tunisia.
In terms of higher education and training, the top three ranked are Mauritius, South Africa and Tunisia.
With regard to education, the guidance rate has reached one school teacher for 17 pupils while 400 thousand students attend university courses in 192 academic institutions of the country.
In terms of goods market efficiency, the top three countries Mauritius, South Africa and Tunisia have goods markets that are similar to countries such as Spain and Chile in their efficiency.
Tunisia and South Africa, in particular, are characterised by high levels of competition in the market, taxation systems that are not distortive to business decisions, and agricultural sectors that are not very costly to the economy.
At the level of business sophistication, the top three countries in this pillar are Mauritius, South Africa and Tunisia.
Kenya, South Africa and Tunisia are the top regional performers with respect to innovation.
They are on a par with such innovative countries as India and Brazil. These countries have high-quality scientific research institutions, invest strongly in research and development, and are characterised by a significant level of collaboration between business and universities in research.