CONFIDENTIAL NOTES

A huge foreign investment window opened up this October when the Economic Freedom of the World 2010 Annual Report ranked Namibia as one of the top African countries to do business in.

The annual report rates nations by five criteria: government size, legal size, legal structure and protection of property rights, access to sound money, freedom to conduct international trade and credit, labour as well as business regulation.

According to this report, released by the Fraser Institute of Canada, in cooperation with independent institutes in 80 nations, Namibia is ranked 71, above Ghana (72), Kenya (75) and South Africa (82), out of 141 countries in the study.

Hong Kong, Singapore, New Zealand, Switzerland, Chile, US, Canada, Australia, Mauritius and the UK are the countries with the top ten highest economic freedom ratings in the world.

This is good news to Namibian institutions that need funding to up capacity utilization.

This year’s report shows that economic freedom experienced its first global downturn in a quarter century, with the average score falling to 6,67 in 2008 (the most recent year for which data is available) from 6,74 in 2007.

It is important to note that in the wake of the recession, many countries opted for perverse credit expansion and regulatory policies, damaging economic freedom and hindering future growth.

Namibia stood tall scoring 6, 85 out of 10 points in economic freedom.

We should note that the common theme from this year’s study shows that individuals living in countries with high levels of economic freedom enjoyed higher levels of prosperity, greater individual freedoms and longer life span.

True, commitment to economic freedom is popular among the world’s most prosperous nations, hence people in countries at the bottom of the rankings are typically impoverished and subject to oppressive governments that recognize few, if any, individual rights or freedom.

Zimbabwe maintains the lowest level of economic freedom among the 141 jurisdictions analysed. Myanmar, Angola and Venezuela round up as the bottom four nations.

This year’s report also examines the effect of economic freedom on homicide and unemployment which makes it a must for government and the private sector to have a look at.

Government should consider increasing economic freedom as a means of reducing unemployment, particularly since the recession crippled our diamond and tourism sectors.

Namibia is among several countries that have substantially lifted their scores and improved their relative levels of economic freedom over the past decades.

Take it or leave it, there is need for pursuing a holistic approach to improve the country’s economic freedom, as gauged in the 2010 Economic Freedom of the World 2010.

If Namibia can be above South Africa, the country can surely move into the top 50 bracket.

The fact that the economic freedom index measures the degree to which the policies and institutions of countries are supportive of economic freedom, shows that improving our rankings and telling the world about it, will renew investor confidence and can contribute to further improvement of our rankings and livelihood. PF