economic freedom

Smaller African states have more economic freedom

By Conrad Onyango

Posted on September 23, 2021 08:30

Cityscapes © Aerial view, city view Port Louis with harbour, old town and financial district, Mauritius, Africa/ibxmox06681383/ Moxter/
Aerial view, city view Port Louis with harbour, old town and financial district, Mauritius, Africa/ibxmox06681383/ Moxter/

From property rights to financial freedom, small African countries are racing ahead of the continent’s largest economies in advancing economic freedom, as they look to build business opportunities for their citizens.

By Conrad Onyango – bird Newsroom.

Small African countries are growing faster than their larger peers when it comes to being more economically free, a new report shows.

‘Economic Freedom of the World: 2021’, a report published by Free Market Foundation, a think tank, in conjunction with Canada’s Fraser Institute, lists the continent’s small nations as being amongst the world’s top countries when it comes to according their citizenry higher levels of personal choices, greater access to markets and clearly defined and enforced property rights.

Mauritius (11), Seychelles (43) and Botswana (45) are the top African countries in the report, offering the most robust policies and institutions in support of economic freedom.

“Where people are free to pursue their own opportunities and make their own choices, they lead more prosperous, happier and healthier lives,” says Fred McMahon, Research Chair in Economic Freedom at the Fraser Institute.

Uganda (58), Rwanda (64), Zambia (80) and Gambia (82) have also been ranked among the world’s most economically free jurisdictions.

Mauritius topped scores in all key metrics, from the size of government (7.9) to the legal system to property rights (6.9). Access to sound money (9.5), freedom to trade internationally (8.5) and regulation of credit, labour and business (8.0) all ranked high on the country’s scorecard.

The majority of the small countries mentioned also recorded high scores when it came to providing people with access to sound money – aided by self-correcting mechanisms to cushion consumer purchasing power against sudden appreciation and depreciation of the currency.

Mauritius, Uganda and Gambia were tied when it came to access to sound money, at 9.5, with Zambia closing the group with a score of 9.1.

The continent’s economic “giants” of Nigeria and South Africa were mid-rankers, at position 84, while Kenya finished 86th out of 165 countries and territories in the world.

Nigeria (3.7) and Kenya (5.0) suffered from low scores on legal systems and property rights. In North Africa, Morocco (102), Egypt (149) and Algeria (162) ranked lower in the global list, recording equally low scores across key metrics.

Egypt recorded low scores in legal systems and property rights (3.6), size of government (5.4) and regulation of credit, labour and business (5.4). Algeria scored the least (2.5) on giving its people the freedom to trade internationally.

“Economic freedom increases upward income mobility and, of the ten pillars of social mobility, economic freedom is highly related to four: education quality, lifelong learning, technology access, and inclusive institutions,” according to researchers of the report.

Over the decade to 2019, the report shows global average economic-freedom rating increased to 7.04 from 6.61 for all 123 nations, highlighting a trend of nations working towards making their jurisdictions freer.

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