Why South Africa is the 37th best country in the world

US News has published its latest Best Countries ranking for 2019, where South Africa has climbed two places – but against a familiar backdrop of corruption and safety concerns.

The report covers 80 countries and ranks them on how global perceptions define them in terms of a number of qualitative characteristics, as well as impressions that have the potential to drive trade, travel and investment, and directly affect national economies.

Each country is scored on 65 attributes spread across nine broad categories: Adventure, Citizenship, Cultural Influence, Entrepreneurship, Heritage, Movers, Open for Business, Power, and Quality of Life.

Adventure looks at how friendly and fun a country is, while citizenship delves more into human rights, property rights, equality and freedom enjoyed by its people.

Cultural influence assesses the richness of a country’s culture, and how it influences society, which ties into the heritage category, which measure the accessibility of these things.

Entrepreneurship and open for business look at economic aspects – particularly how connected a country is to the rest of the world, innovation, skilled labour force, legal frameworks and various government roles in this.

The mover category looks at how unique a country is and is classified as an ‘up and coming’ economy, while the power category gauges a country’s influence, alliances and military.

The final broad category is quality of life, which looks at the job market, economic stability, safety, income equality, political certainty, education and health.


South Africa

South Africa was ranked 37th overall, up two placed from 39th in 2018.

Across the nine categories it ranks somewhere near the middle in most metrics. It’s best placing is 10th in the movers category – where is forms part of a group of emerging global influencers.

It performs poorly in the quality of life and open for business categories, where it ranks 66th and 65th, respectively.

Here, South Africa loses big with an incredibly low safety rating (one of the lowest – the only African nation with a lower score is Nigeria), and equally as poor ratings in public health, income equality, political stability and education.

The only two indicators that raise the country’s quality of life are affordability (relative to other countries), and it being family friendly, thanks to the numerous activities available.

South Africa is dragged down down further due to its reputation for being corrupt. President Cyril Ramaphosa has waged war against state capture and corruption, since coming to power a year ago. “We’ll succeed in this task. South Africa will soon be corruption free,” he has said.

In the open for business category, high levels of corruption and extremely low levels of government transparency, exacerbate a fairly large bureaucratic process and middling manufacturing costs.

Other areas of concern on South Africa’s report card include respect for property rights, which scored low; as well as poorly distributed political power. ‘

You can view the full breakdown here.


Read: The 11 biggest threats facing South Africa in 2019 according to CEOs

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Why South Africa is the 37th best country in the world