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Botswana Africa's Most Free Economy Says Report

by Robert Lee,, London

21 January 2004

Botswana’s reputation as a well-managed and liberal economy has been further enhanced by the publication of the 2004 Index of World Freedom report which ranks the nation as Africa’s freest economy.

The report, sponsored by the Heritage Foundation, rates 155 countries, with its authors basing the rankings on the assumption of a strong correlation between economic freedom and individual prosperity.

The league table is calculated by measuring a country’s performance in 10 key categories: trade policy, fiscal burden of government, government intervention in the economy, monetary policy, capital flows and foreign investment, banking and finance, wages and prices, property rights, regulation and informal (or black) market activity.

Whilst Botswana's overall score recorded a minor decline over last year’s results, due to downward adjustments in the ‘trade policy’ and ‘fiscal burden of government’ categories, the study noted the nation remains one of the strongest economic performers in the developing world, and economists predict economic growth for 2003 at 7.3%.

The report also praised the country’s banking and finance system which was seen to be “competitive and advanced” compared to those of most other African states. It also noted strong growth in the insurance sector and stock market.

The Southern African state has consistently outscored other countries in sub-Saharan Africa in recent economic surveys, including Transparency International’s 2003 Corruption Perceptions Index, where it was ranked above the likes of South Africa, Italy, Brazil and Greece.

Botswana was also ranked 36th in the 2003 Growth Competitive Index of 102 countries. Notably, this again placed Botswana above neighbouring South Africa, and higher than many European nations including Italy.

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