The 2007 Economic Freedom of the World Report and Index was released in Vancouver, Canada yesterday [early this morning CAT].
With an improved overall rating of 7.2, Botswana is once more ranked number one in the study's Sub-Saharan Africa region table and indeed in first place on the African continent as a whole.
Botswana has maintained its lead position in the Africa table for over a decade, during which time the country's rating has risen from 6.4 to 7.2.
Botswana was also ranked number 38 in the world, alongside Belgium and Portugal, in this year's overall global ranking of an expanded list of 141 nations. This places Botswana ahead of nine European Union member states - Spain (44), Czech Republic, France, Italy, Greece, Poland and Bulgaria (52), Romania (82) and Slovenia (91).
According to this year's report, Hong Kong retains the highest overall rating for economic freedom (8.9), closely followed by Singapore (8.8), New Zealand "(8.5), and Switzerland (8.3).
Africa's top performers were Botswana (7.2/38), Lesotho, South Africa (6.8/60), Zambia (6.7/67), Namibia, Kenya and Tunisia (6.6/69), Uganda, Egypt and Mauritania (6.5/76) Tanzania (6.3/86), Mozambique and Ghana. The report further notes that Uganda and Ghana were among five nations in the world who have increased their scores by more than three points since 1980.
The annual report is produced by the Fraser Institute of Canada in conjunction with 72 other leading independent research and educational institutes, which together form the Economic Freedom Network.
The Network, which is based in 70 countries from across the globe, includes the Cato Institute in
l Africa Research Centre for Public Policy and Market Process (Kenya),
l Free Market Foundation of Southern Africa (South Africa),
l Institute of Public Policy Analysis (Nigeria),
l Bureau d'Analyse d'Ingenlerie et de Logiciels (Cote D'Ivoire), * Institute of Economic Affairs (Ghana), and l the Zambian Institute of Public Policy Analysis.
According to the report's executive summary, the global index measures the degree to which the policies and institutions of countries are supportive of economic freedom, the cornerstones of economic freedom being understood as personal choice, voluntary exchange, freedom to compete, and security of privately owned property.
This year, an expanded total of 42 data points were used to construct the summary index and to measure the degree of economic freedom in five areas: (1) size of government; (2) legal structure and protection of property rights; (3) access to sound money; (4) international exchange; and (5) regulation.
Among the sub-categories, Botswana scored highest in access to sound money (9.0) and credit market regulation (9.4), and was weakest in terms of the relatively large size of government (5.0).
The most comprehensive survey of its kind, the Economic Freedom Network's Economic Freedom of the World Report's findings also remain consistent with similar studies on economic freedom and competitiveness, which have been released over the past decade by the World Economic Forum, the World Bank, Freedom House and the Heritage Foundation. - (Tautona Times)