SA leaps up technology ranking

By Iain Scott, ITWeb group consulting editor
Johannesburg, 13 Nov 2002

SA has been ranked 38th out of 80 countries in the World Economics Forum`s technology index.

The ranking is a substantial improvement on last year`s report, which placed the country 46th on the index, and it helped SA gain two positions to 32nd on the overall growth competitiveness index.

The technology index is one of the three main components of the forum`s Global Competitiveness Report 2002-2003, issued this week. The other components are public institutions (SA`s ranking was unchanged at 34th) and the macroeconomic environment (SA dropped three places to 30th).

The overall growth competitiveness index aims to measure the capacity of the national economy to achieve sustained economic growth over the medium-term.

SA`s significant improvement in its technology ranking is largely thanks to the inclusion of a new area of measurement in this year`s report, namely a survey on the licensing of foreign technology as an important source of new technology.

"The reasoning behind including this variable was that countries with a technology-based export sector may be expected to be more adept at absorbing technologies from abroad than economies with a primary commodity-based export structure," the report says.

The WEF report says the US topped the growth competitiveness index mainly because of "its stellar performance on technology-related factors".

It says: "A deeper analysis reveals that this performance is due to a wide range of factors. Research and development, collaboration between universities and businesses, the level of tertiary education and a sophisticated and innovative business and academic community all contribute to the high ranking of the US, topping the innovation sub-index and enjoying a 4th position on the information and communication technology sub-index."

SA ranked 49th on the innovation sub-index and 42nd on the ICT sub-index.

The other African countries ranked on the technology index are Namibia (59), Tunisia (60), Botswana (61), Nigeria (71) and Zimbabwe (75).