SOUTH Africa is lagging its global, African and emerging market peers in several important measures of its people’s wellbeing, a study by a top management consulting company shows.
A "wealth to wellbeing" study carried out by the global Boston Consulting Group in partnership with the Tony Blair Africa Governance Initiative, ranked South Africa 108 out of 150 countries surveyed.
"It’s a story of stagnation. South Africa’s not doing that well compared to its peers … it’s a call for action which says there’s work to be done," said managing partner for Boston Consulting in South Africa Tenbite Ermias.
The study showed there were big gaps in health and income equality between South Africa and all three of its peer groups; global, extended Brics countries — group members Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa together with Indonesia and Mexico — and other African states.
In both the health and income inequalities categories, South Africa’s performance was more than 20 points lower than each peer group. It also ranked more than 20 points lower than its global and extended Brics peers in employment.
The global peers selected by the study were: Romania, Thailand, Ukraine, Ecuador, Colombia, Malaysia, Turkey and Chile; while South Africa’s peers on the African continent were Ghana, Nigeria, Morocco, Egypt and Kenya.
The Boston Consulting study, described as a "sustainable economic development assessment", also examined economic stability, civil society, governance, environment and infrastructure.
In terms of recent progress, South Africa scored below all three peer groups in every one of these categories apart from health.
"South Africa is not unaware of all its challenges, but the difficult part is prioritising which ones to go after," Mr Ermias said during a presentation of the study’s findings.
The National Development Plan provides a good overall assessment of what South Africa needs to do, but the goals have to be narrowed down, Mr Ermias added.
National Planning Commission member Miriam Altman said that choices were being made to identify what she described as "catalytic interventions". "There are a whole range of interventions which could be done to promote efficiency and make a step change in these indicators," she said.
South Africa also had the most unequal distribution of wealth among its global peers and its progress on this issue was lagging the others, the study showed.
South Africans were four times as likely to be unemployed, it said. The country’s jobless rate currently stands at 25.2%.
On the education front, South Africa had to more than double the number of its teachers to meet the average of its global peers.
The country also needed 31,000 more doctors to bring it up to its global peer average.
In infrastructure, South Africa’s biggest gap was internet access, with only 12.3% of its population using the internet compared to a peer average of 27.8%, the study showed.
But when it came to transportation, road and rail infrastructure, South Africa was above average.