The island nation’s economic freedom score is 76.5, making its economy the 8th freest in the 2014 Index, with the same rank as last year’s. However, its overall score is 0.4 points lower than last year, with declines in investment freedom, property rights, and business freedom that outweigh improvements in labor freedom, freedom from corruption, and monetary freedom.
Botswana follows Mauritius, but at a distance, securing 27th place globally on the index as well as second place among all African countries ranked in the report, and making it, together with the island economy, a ‘mostly free’ nation.
Cape Verde at 60th place, Rwanda at 65th place and Ghana at 66th place round up the top 5 countries from Sub-Saharan Africa on the index, and are designated ‘moderately free’ economies.
In an upset, Africa’s largest economy South Africa lags at 75th place but still counts among the ‘moderately free’ economies, while Africa’s second largest economy of Nigeria comes a lowly 129th, tagged among the ‘mostly unfree’ economies on the index.
Top-ranked Hong Kong scores 90.1, followed by Singapore, Australia, Switzerland, New Zealand and Canada. Incidentally, these are the only economic zones to earn the index’s “economically free” designation.
Chile, Mauritius, Ireland and Denmark round up the top 10 on the index, making it to the league of ‘mostly free’ nations, among 28 others, including the US and UK.
However, after showing consistently declining scores for the last 7 years, the US has moved out of the top 10 for the first time, scoring 75.5 and snagging 12th place on the index.
Tailing the index is North Korea, with Cuba, Zimbabwe, Venezuela and Eritrea rounding up the list of ‘most repressed’ countries on the index, counting two African countries in the 5 worst-performing nations.
However, Zimbabwe may be ranked second-worst in the world in economic freedom, but it posted an increase of 6.9 points, also making it the most improved. Liberia and Sierra Leone, meanwhile, posted gains of 3.1 points and 2.2 points respectively, lifting both into the ‘mostly unfree’ category.
In all, of the region’s 46 countries ranked on the index, 2 are rated in the second highest category of ‘mostly free’, 7 in the middling category of ‘moderately free’, 26 are in the next lowest of ‘mostly unfree’ while 11 are rated in the lowest category of ‘repressed’.
While Sub-Saharan Africa’s level of economic freedom remains weaker than that any other region, it has gained enough ground last year to emerge as the second most-improved region in the world.
“No other region has made greater strides in economic freedom than Sub-Saharan Africa over the past three years,” notes the report.
Its competitiveness has improved in several specific areas, with many countries implementing more sustainable fiscal policies, better managed inflation, and more efficient markets.
Launched in 1995, the index published by The Wall Street Journal and Washington’s No. 1 think tank The Heritage Foundation, has ranked 178 countries basis their commitment to free enterprise.
The index uses 10 categories, including fiscal soundness, government size and property rights and gives a score from 0 to 100. The higher up the scoreboard a county is, the higher is its economic growth, long-term prosperity and social progress.
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