Every year we update S.A Fast Facts in the following categories:

  1. Political
  2. Economic
  3. Business
  4. Tourism
  5. Sport
  6. Education
  7. Environment
  8. Social
  9. Infrastructure
  10. Health
  11. Miscellaneous
  12. Tax
  13. Corruption


Our major source of information is the Global Competitiveness Report 2015/2016 and the Economist.

In 2016 South Africa ranks 49th, out of 140 countries, an improvement of 7 places over 2015 (56th out of 144 countries)

NOTE: There are 235 countries globally, but only 140 have sufficient information for data to be collected and compiled.

The Global Competitiveness report compares 12 ‘pillars’ of competitiveness using 120 measures.

The Table below compares SA with Africa and Advanced Economies on the 12 ‘pillars’.

We try an update these figures every year, fortunately the Global Competitiveness Report and the Economist Pocket World in Figures are published annually, but many of our other sources are not.

We invite you our readers to contribute, either to correct the figures we have, or to add others that we don't have!


# 1 Political

  • According to the Open Budget Index 2015, South Africa has the 3rd most transparent budget in the world behind New Zealand and Sweden. In 2010, SA was ranked 1st. (International Budget Partnership)
  • South Africa is the only African country that is a member of the G20.
  • South Africa ranks 4th overall on the 2015 Ibrahim Index which measures the quality of African governance, Mauritius, Cape Verde, Botswana took the first three places out of 52. Nigeria was ranked 42. (Mo Ibrahim Foundation)
Rank Country Overall Change since 2011
1 Mauritius 79.9 0.7
2 Cape Verde 74.5 1.9
3 Botswana 74.2 1.8
4 South Africa 73.0 0.9
5 Namibia 70.4 2.0
6 Seychelles 70.3 0.8
7 Ghana 67.3 1.6
8 Tunisia 66.9 2.6
9 Senegal 62.4 4.5
10 Lesotho 61.1 2.2
  • The 2014 Economic Freedom of the World report states SA has fallen from 89th last year to 93rd out of 152 countries. The subcategories of the index tell the story. We rank 142nd in the hiring and firing category and 139th in the area of collective bargaining regulations. SA ranks in the bottom quintile for business costs of crime, capital controls, hiring regulations, and minimum wage controls; and most importantly, general size of government and its parastatals. South Africa ranked 31st out of 167 countries surveyed in the 2011 Democracy Index, compiled by the Economist Intelligence Unit, ahead of France, Italy, Greece and all of the other BRICS countries.WorldAudit.org ranks South Africa as the 44th most democratic country in 2012 (43rd in 2011)
  • South Africa ranks as the 62nd strongest state out of 177 countries in the Fund for Peace's Failed State Index 2012. (61st in 2011) The index measures state vulnerability based on 12 social, economic, political and military indicators.
  • "Personal satisfaction" with the country's democracy rose from 49% in 2008 to 60% in 2011 and back to 48% in 2015, according to the continent wide Afrobarometer research group.
  • Affirmative legislation exists all over the world. In most countries it is designed to protect minorities from discrimination.

Arrows indicate Improvement/Deterioration/Same 2016 over 2013 NOT over 2009.


Denotes Improvement
Denotes Deterioration
Denotes Stayed the same


Category 2015/2016 Ranking 140 2013/2014 Ranking 148 2009/2010 Ranking 134
Transparency of government policy making 39 35 27
Irregular payments and bribes 50 47 48
Wastefulness of government spending 91 79 38
Diversion of public funds 94 99 56
Public trust in politicians 98 98 65
Government procurement of advanced technical products 119 105 103
Government services for improved business performance 106 106 106
Favouritism in decisions of Government officials 105 110 114
Burden of government regulation 117 120 69

# 2 Economic

  • 23% of employed people in South Africa are members of a trade union. For the mining and quarrying industries, the percentage is 80%, the highest of all industries.
  • South Africa’s Overall ranking moved to 49th out of 140 countries in the 2015/2016 World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report, an improvement of 7 places from 56th 2015.
  • South African Tax Revenue has increased from R100 billion in 1994 to R1 trillion in 2014.
  • South Africa’s debt to GDP ratio is 45% (USA 100%, Japan 200%, UK 90%). The World Bank recommends a ratio of 60%.
  • SA ranks 1st among upper middle-income economies in the World Bank “Connecting to Compete 2012: Trade Logistics in the Global Economy” report. Overall, SA ranks 23 out of 155 countries included in the Logistics Performance Indicators (LPI). Its main competitor on the African continent, Nigeria, is ranked 121.
  • The South African stock market is ranked 2nd in terms of regulation in the 2015/2016 Global Competitive Report.
  • SA ranked 1st in Platinum output, 2nd in Palladium output, 6th in Gold output, 6th in Coal output and 9th in wool output. (Economist)
  • SA is ranked 2nd out of 183 countries for good practice in protecting both borrowers and lenders when obtaining credit for business (World Bank Doing Business Report 2011)
  • South Africa ranked 6th in house price improvement indices as a % change in 2009, and 1st as a % change 1999/2009. (Economist 2014).
  • According to the "Big Mac Index 2016". The price of a Big Mac is 35% of what it costs in the USA.
  • South Africa is ranked 17th out of a total of 145 economies in the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2015, ahead of many developed nations, including, the UK (18th), United States (28), Canada (30), Australia (36) and France (57).
  • South Africa ranked 12th in terms of "largest deficits" but as a percentage of GDP is not in the top 40 countries. (Economist 2015).
  • The JSE ranks 16th in terms of "largest market capitalisation" and the 2nd best regulated out of 140 countries. (Economist 2015)
  • SA is ranked 23rd out of 81 countries in the Jones Lang LaSalle's "World's most Transparent Real Estate Markets" placing it well ahead of China, Brazil, India and Russia. "Robust governance, strong auditing and a developed legal system" were cited as the main reasons for leading the developing markets in this rating.
  • South Africa manufactured 560 000 vehicles in 2013, the world manufactures 87 000 000 vehicles per annum.(Naamsa)
  • South Africa ranks 24th out of 192 countries in the Economist’s "Largest Gold Reserves" Index.
  • SA ranks 32nd out of 165 countries in terms of the size of its US$ reserves, ahead of Australia, Sweden and Chile. The USA ranks 17th, the UK 23rd, China is ranked 1 (The Economist)
  • In a survey of 192 countries, South Africa’s unemployment as a percentage of economically active population ranked 27th.
  • SA ranks 27th in terms of number of cars produced and 25th in terms of number of cars sold. (Economist 2015).
  • SA ranks 35th in terms of manufacturing output and 28th in terms of services output (Economist 2015). 
  • South Africa ranks 41st out of 192 countries in the Economist’s "Biggest Exporters" Index.
  • South Africa ranks 60th in a comparison of tax as a % of GDP of 150 countries worldwide.
  • South Africa ranks in the top 20 countries for agricultural output.
  • The sum of investments in SA over the past 20 years has increased by an impressive 86%, but has tailed off dramatically over past three years. This figure allows for the eroding impact of inflation. 
  • South Africans owe government institutions like the South African Revenue Service (Sars), municipalities and traffic authorities a staggering R180 billion in overdue taxes, municipal accounts and traffic fines._Eighty20
  • Of South African adults that have accessed the internet in the past 4 weeks, 70% used Facebook, 29% say they did online banking, 10% downloaded a podcast and 9% used online dating. (AMPS2014B) _ Eighty20

Arrows indicate Improvement/Deterioration/Same 2016 over 2013 NOT over 2009.

Denotes Improvement
Denotes Deterioration
Denotes Stayed the same


Category 2015/2016 Ranking 2013/2014 Ranking 2009/2010 Ranking
Regulation of Securities Exchange 2 1 2
Legal Rights Index 5 1 8
Availability of financial services 6 2 7
Soundness of banks 8 3 6
Financing through local equity market 1 3 4
Availability of financial services 6 2 7
Domestic market size index 27 24 24
Ease of access to loans 32 22 26
Extent and effect of taxation 15 16 28
Venture capital availability 47 28 44
Foreign market size 36 38 39
Agricultural policy costs 73 54 37
Total tax rate, % profits 41 47 48
Country credit rating 50 51 48
General government debt, % GDP 75 73 68
Inflation, annual % change 108 100 76
Gross national savings 101 111 87
Exports as a percentage of GDP 94 100 99

# 3 Business

  • SA ranks 14 out of 140 countries in strength of investor protection, according to the Global Competitiveness Report 2015/16.  
  • SA is ranked 10th out of 183 countries for good practice in protecting investors in business. (World Bank Doing Business Report 2011).
  • Employment in the mining industry grew from just under 449,000 in 2004 to a little above 530,000 in June 2012 (Business Day)
  • South Africa ranked 6th best out of 24 countries in the Contact Center World rankings for 2012, up from 9th in 2011.
  • South Africa is ranked 70th out of 183 countries for ease of doing business according to Doing Business 2016, a joint publication of the World Bank and the International Finance Corporation.
  • South Africa is the winner of the National Outsourcing Association’s (NOA’s) Offshoring Destination of the Year Award 2012
  • Exports from Africa were worth about US$582 billion in 2013, up 58.7% since 2009. African exports represent an estimated 3.2% of total world exports. SA is the second top exporting country in Africa with $95.2 bn (main exports include gold, diamonds and platinum).
  • Over 90% of Africa’s imports and exports are conducted by sea. The busiest port in Africa is the Port of Durban which welcomes about 4 500 vessels per year and in 2013/14 it handled about 44.8 million tonnes of cargo. _Eighty20


Denotes Improvement
Denotes Deterioration
Denotes Stayed the same

Category 20154/2016 Ranking 2013/2014 Ranking 2009/2010 Ranking
Strength of Auditing and Reporting Standards 1 1 2
Efficacy of corporate boards 3 1 3
Protection of minority shareholders 1 1 9
Strength of investor protection 10 10 10
Reliance on professional management 21 12 18
Business costs of terrorism 30 28 33
No. of procedures to start a business 24 24 24
Prevalence of foreign ownership 32 30 34
Redundancy costs 33 34 46
Local supplier quality 38 32 31
Brain drain 39 51 88
Ethical behavior of firms 35 37 51
Burden of customs procedures 62 52 62
Business impact of rules on FDI 104 83 55
Trade tariffs 76 74 72
No of days to start a business 32 30 80
Women in labour force, ration to men 84 88 76
Pay and productivity 136 142 133
Business costs of crime and violence 133 141 133
Flexibility of wage determination 139 144 123
Hiring and firing practices 145 147 123
Cooperation in labour-employer relations 144 148 121

# 4 Tourism

  • South Africa is ranked among the top 3 countries in the world (countries with more than 9 million tourists) in respect of tourism growth (growing at 3 times the global average) -World Tourism Council
  • Tourism numbers increased by 10.4% between January and October 2015. A total of 9,535,498 tourists arrived in the country during the period (15.5 million visitors), compared to 6,823,517 in 2011
  • SA ranks 24th in terms of visitors at 15.5 million (France 83 million, UK 29 million, Switzerland 8.5 million, India 6.6 million, Australia 6 million). (Economist)
  • South Africa is ranked 48th overall in the latest edition of the World Economic Forum's Travel and Competitiveness Report 2016, which surveys 140 countries on their policies to develop the travel and tourism sector. (66th in 2011).
  • The Intercontinental Hotel at O.R. Tambo International Airport was named as the winner of the prestigious 2012 World Luxury Airport Hotel award at the global tourism industry awards.
  • Cape Town was named the top tourist destination in the world in the 2016 Traveler’s Choice Destinations awards.
  • Cape Town has been voted the Favourite City Worldwide for 2016 by 17,000 Telegraph readers in the UK.
  • The Cape Grace in the V&A Waterfront, Cape Town has been named 2nd Best Hotel in the World in the 2016 Tripadvisor Traveler’s Choice Awards
  • Table Mountain was inaugurated as one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature in 2012.
  • Cape Town International is the best airport in Africa, according to the World Airport Awards 2012. O R Tambo International was 2nd and King Shaka International came 3rd. They were ranked 27th, 31st and 35th respectively in the world.
  • 41 South African beaches were awarded Blue Flags, an international indicator of high environmental standards for recreational beaches in 2013 (up from 27 in 2010).
  • South Africa’s wine tourism has been rated the best-developed in the world by International Wine Review in 2012, one of the world’s most influential opinion formers on wine
  • According to CNNGo (CNN's Travel Website), Cape Town is the 9th most loved city in the world in 2012.
  • TripAdvisor has named Boulders Beach as one of its top 10 truly unique beaches in the world 2012.
  • National carrier South African Airways (SAA) has won the Global Traveler's magazine "Airline of the year" award for 2012 - the highest honour awarded by the publication for global business travelers.

# 5 Sport

  • South Africa was the first African country to host the FIFA Soccer World Cup in 2010. It is only the second country in the world to have hosted the Cricket, Rugby Union and Soccer World Cups, after England.
  • In 2009, the Springboks become the first international team to be World Champions in both 15-a-side and Sevens rugby.
  • South Africa is home to the world's largest individually timed cycle race (the Cape Argus Cycle Race), the world's largest open water swim (the Midmar Mile) and the world's largest ultra-marathon (the Comrades Marathon).
  • 5 South Africans hold the world extreme swimming world record for swimming 2.5kms around Cape Horn.
  • Since the 1940’s, South African golfers have won more golf majors than any other nation, apart from the United States.
  • According to The Cricketer magazineNewlands in Cape Town is second-best Test Match venue in the world in 2012. Lords was first.
  • The United States Olympic Committee pays out medal bonuses of $25,000 for gold medal winners, $15,000 for silver medals and $10,000 for bronze. SASOC will give South African gold medal winners almost twice as much with each medal earning R400000 ($47,700). South African silver and bronze medalists will earn R200,000 and R80,000 respectively.
  • Natalie Du Toit became the first amputee ever to qualify for the Olympics (Beijing 2008), where she placed 16th in the women's 10K race
  • Cricket is the third most popular sport in South Africa, with over 7 million adults expressing an interest in it. Soccer is the clear winner with 19.5 million adults (over half the population) expressing an interest in it.
  • Since being readmitted to international cricket in 1991, South Africa have appeared in all 7 editions of the Cricket World Cup. South Africa have reached the semi-finals of the competition on 3 of those occasions, but have never made an appearance in the finals.

# 6 Education

  • The Rhodes Scholarship, established in 1902 and named after Cecil John Rhodes, is an international postgraduate award. It is widely regarded as 'the most prestigious scholarship in the world' with more than 7,000 Rhodes Scholars.
  • SA has 30,000 ordinary public and independent schools. (Department of Basic Education)
  • In 1994 only 12,000 schools had electricity, In 2015, approximately 25,000 have access to electricity
  • According to the 2011 census, 81.2% (45.6%) of 5 year olds, 97% (94.6%) of 9 year olds, 95.8% (95.1%) of 13 year olds and 85.6% (81.5%) of 17 year olds attend an educational establishment. 2001 figures in brackets.
  • The matric class of 2015 achieved a pass rate of 70%, a drop of 3.7% from 2014.
  • The University of South Africa (UNISA) is a pioneer of tertiary distance education and is the largest correspondence university in the world with approximately 300,000 students.
  • According to the 2012 school day statistics, there were 12,428,069 learners in ordinary public and independent schools, served by 425,167 educators. This equates to a learner to teacher ratio of 1:29 in 2012. This has improved from 1:50 in 1994 (Department of Basic Education)
  • Nine of South Africa’s 23 universities rank in the top 4% of the 20 000 registered universities worldwide, and 11 in the top 8%. None of our Universities rank below 10 000th (QS Survey which involves 60 000 academics and 30 000 business executives worldwide)
QS World University Rankings 2015/16  - South Africa
2015 2014 Institution Name
501-550 601-650 RHODES UNIVERSITY
© QS Quacquarelli Symonds 2004-2015www.TopUniversities.com All rights reserved.
  • With the recent AACSB accreditation, the University of Cape Town’s Graduate School of Business is now one of just 59 out of 13,670 business schools worldwide to be triple-crowned – schools that are accredited by the three largest and most influential business school accreditation associations namely AMBA (the Association of MBAs), European Quality Improvement System (EQUIS) and Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB).
  • The University of Pretoria’s Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS) is the highest ranked African business school and is ranked 42nd overall in the world (Financial Times Executive Education rankings 2013)
  • The University of Cape Town's Graduate School of Business is ranked 74th in the world for the quality of its MBA program, according to the Financial Times Global MBA rankings 2013
  • Some 9 million learners receive free cooked meals as part of the National School Nutrition Programme Annual Report 2012/13. 
  • The first MBA programme outside of the United States was started by the University of Pretoria in 1949.
  • Stellenbosch University was the first African university in the world to design and launch a microsatellite
  • 20% of South African adults are interested in rugby. 1.4 million say they have attended a rugby game in the past 12 months, and 720,000 people participated in the sport in the past 12 months.(AMPS2014B)_Eighty20

According to the Global Competitiveness Report 2015/16, South Africa ranks (out of 140 countries, 2009/10 rankings in [ ]):

Arrows indicate Improvement/Deterioration/Same 2016 over 2013 NOT over 2009.

Denotes Improvement
Denotes Deterioration
Denotes Stayed the same


Category 2015/2016 Ranking 2013/2014 Ranking 2009/2010 Ranking
Quality of management schools 24 23 29
University-industry collaboration in R&D 31 29 26
Quality of scientific research institutions 33 35 30
Capacity for innovation 32 33 46
Availability of research and training services 33 54 57
Secondary education enrolment gross % 12 55 62
Tertiary education enrolment 93 102 111
Internet access in schools 119 116 100
Primary education enrolment, net % 102 122 136
Availability of scientists and engineers 106 118 122
Quality of primary education 127 132 133
Quality of the educational system 138 146 119
Quality of maths and science education 140 148 139

# 7 Environmental

  • At the end of 2014, South Africa entered the world top 10 of countries harnessing renewable energy from the sun, with 15 solar plants contributing 503 MW to the country's electricity grid. _Eighty20
  • In 1991, South Africa became the first country in the world to provide full protection status for the Great White shark within its jurisdictional waters. Countries including USA, Australia, Malta and Namibia followed suit later.
  • Cape Town has the fifth-best blue sky in the world according to the UK's National Physical Laboratory.
  • Johannesburg ranks 2nd among countries from Asia/Pacific, Middle East and Africa in dealing with urbanisation and environmental challenges, (MasterCard Insights Report)
  • South Africa is the only country to house an entire floral kingdom (Fynbos), one of only 6 on the planet.
  • The Vredefort Dome (or Vredefort crater) in the Free State, is the largest verified impact crater on Earth at between 250 and 300km in diameter and is estimated to be over 2 billion years old.
  • SA ranks 18th in terms of biggest emitters of CO², 9th as a proportion of GDP and 27th in terms of CO² per person. (Economist).
  • South Africa has the highest level of international certification of its tree plantations in the world. Over 80% of South African plantations are certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). Paper Manufacturers Association of South Africa
  • All paper in South Africa is produced from plantation grown trees, recycled paper or bagasse (sugar cane fibre). Fibre is not sourced from the wood of rainforests, indigenous or boreal trees. This is a myth, often wrongfully perpetuated by e-mail footnotes. Paper Manufacturers Association of South Africa
  • The proportion of the South African population using improved drinking water sources was 94% in 2013, up from 83% in 1990. (WHO/UNICEF, March 2012)
  • SA’s renewable energy programme is the fastest growing in the world. Private sector investment in renewable energy generation will reach R193bn following the announcement of another 13 preferred bidders for wind and solar photovoltaic (PV) projects.
  • 359,000 South Africans have returned in the past five years. _SA Homecoming Revolution
  • South African high net worth individuals are found to be the second most financially generous nation behind the United States, and fourth most generous in giving their time after Ireland, India and the USA. _Eighty20
  • 320 major dams in South Africa supply 32,400,000,000 cubic litres of water per annum.

# 8 Social

  • South Africa ranks top 10 globally in number of registered NGO's, with over 100,000. The corporate sector donates R9 billion to CSI initiatives and ordinary citizens R15 billion.
  • According to the 2011 Census, the distribution of the South African population by province is: Gauteng 23.7% (+15%), Kwazulu-Natal 19.8% (+0.1%), Eastern Cape 12.7% (+0.5%), Western Cape 11.3% (+10.3%), Limpopo 10.4% (+3.2%), Mpumalanga 7.8% (+10.9%), North West 6.8% (+14.9%), Free State 5.3% (-1%) and Northern Cape 2.2% (+8.3%). (Figures in brackets show the population change since 2007)
  • According to the 2011 Census, 79.2% of the population of SA were defined (or defined themselves) as Black, 8.9% Coloured, 2.5% Asian and 8.9% White, with 0.5% other. 
  • According to the 2011 Census, 30.3% of males are aged 14 and under (2001- 33.4%), 65.6% are aged 15-64 (62.8%) and 4.1% are aged 65 and over (3.8%). For females, 28.1% are aged 14 and under (30.8%), 65.4% are aged 15-64 (63.2%) and 6.5% are aged 65 and over (6%).
  • SA's population is the 27th largest in the world (there are 230 countries, only 80 have a population in excess of 10 million).
  • The current police to population ratio is approximately 1:308. This ranks South Africa as the 9th best globally
  • There are 195,000 in the employ of SA Police. There are 411,000 in the employ of private security companies. TOTAL 606,000. Divide by 53,000,000. Conclusion: for every 90 citizens there is someone looking after some or other aspect of safety and security. Or put differently 1250 security ‘officials’ per 100,000 citizens! (Business Day)
  • The percentage of the South African population with access to clean drinking water has increased from 62% in 1994, to 94% in 2013. Access to electricity has increased from 34% in 1994, to 88% in 2012.
  • In 2013, 16.5 million South Africans benefited from access to social grants, 11.5 million of which were children, 3.5 million pensioners and 1.5 million with disabilities. In 1994, only 2.5 million people had access to social grants, the majority of which were pensioners.
  • Since 1994, 435 houses have been built each day for the poor.
  • South Africa is ranked number 21 in terms of language diversity out of 224 countries. Papua New Guinea is ranked as the most linguistically diverse country and the Vatican the least. (Greenbergs diversity Index. Ethnologue.com)
  • According to Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform 90% of the land re-distributed to emerging farmers (approx 930 farms) is lying fallow and unproductive
  • South Africa has ranked 41th out of 109 countries in the Global Food Security Index which has the US in the top spot and the Democratic Republic of Congo at the bottom.
  • SA ranks 24th in terms of "lowest divorce rate" per 100,000 of population. (Economist).
  • 49% of Zulu speakers think the statement 'Cultural customs and traditions define who I am' is very true.27% of Afrikaans speakers feel the same way.
  • South Africa is ranked 26th in the world for gross indoor exhibition space at 180,000 square meters, which is approx 25% of all exhibition space available in Africa, according to the 2011 World Map of Exhibition Venues published by the UFI.
  • South Africa has ranked a sad 142nd out of 151 countries on the 2012 Happy Planet Index, which measures the extent to which countries deliver long, happy, sustainable lives for their citizens.
  • With close to 107,000 new individual asylum claims registered in 2011 (one tenth of applications globally), South Africa was the world's largest recipient of individual applications for the fourth successive year. Between 2006 and 2011, South Africa registered more than 816,000 new asylum applications, making it by far the top destination for asylum-seekers for this six-year period. (UNHCR Global Trends 2011)
  • According to Reporters without Borders SA ranks 39th out 171 countries on Press Freedom, down from 24th ten years ago. NZ ranks 6, Namibia 17, Australia 25 and UK 34. Worse than us are Botswana 42, USA 49, Japan 61 and Brazil 99
  • Over the next three years, R7 billion will go to the School Infrastructure Backlogs Conditional Grant to replace infrastructure in 510 schools, and provide water to 1120 schools, sanitation to 741 schools and electricity to 916 schools.
  • In terms of total crimes recorded SA ranked 10th, USA 8th and the UK 6th

# 9 Infrastructure

  • Two South African cities were voted amongst the world's top 100 Most Liveable Cities in the 2010 study conducted by Mercer Human Resource Consulting. Cape Town was ranked in 86th place and Johannesburg 90th
  • Johannesburg is ranked as the 87th largest city in the world. Tokyo is the largest with a population of 36 million (Economist).
  • SA ranked 34 out of 192 countries in terms of infrastructure and 6th for our rail network.
  • South African media ranks 38th out of 178 countries in the Worldwide Press Freedom Index 2010, higher than France, Italy, Spain, Portugal and all of the other BRICS countries.
  • SA has the 18th largest prisoner to population ratio (USA is number 1).
  • Out of 230 cities surveyed around the world, Johannesburg ranks the 151st and Cape Town the 171st most expensive city for expatriates to live in according to the 2010 Cost of Living Standards Survey from Mercer Human Resource Consulting, ahead of Tokyo (2), Moscow (4), Hong Kong (8), London (=17), Paris (=17), Tel Aviv (19), Sao Paulo (21), Sydney (24), Rome (26), New York (27), Dubai (55) and Auckland (149).
  • South Africa is the 19th largest producer of energy (economist)
  • SA’s has the 9th longest road network in the world but is not ranked in the top 50 most crowded networks. (Economist).
  • SA’s has the 6th longest rail network in the world and 9th in terms of rail freight tons per annum. (Economist)
  • SA ranks 28th in terms of "most air travel". (Economist)
Denotes Improvement
Denotes Deterioration
Denotes Stayed the same

Arrows indicate Improvement/Deterioration/Same 2016 over 2013 NOT over 2009.

Category 2015/2016 Ranking 2013/2014 Ranking 2009/2010 Ranking
Quality of air transport infrastructure 14 11 17
Efficiency of legal framework challenging regulations 17 13 19
Efficiency of legal framework settling disputes 14 12 16
Intellectual property protection 24 18 30
Property rights 24 20 30
Judicial independence 24 22 35
Mobile telephone subscriptions 22 34 73
Availability latest technologies 41 33 39
Quality of roads 34 41 43
Quality of railroad infrastructure 42 48 46
Mobile broadband subscriptions 22 61 73
Quality of port infrastructure 36 51 60
Quality of overall infrastructure 59 63 60
International internet bandwidth 19 74 80
Reliability of police services 102 96 96
Broadband internet subscriptions 63 98 96
Individuals using internet 71 81 105
Fixed telephone lines 90 100 100
Organised crime 99 113 111

# 10Health

  • The life expectancy of an average South African has increased to 62 in 2016 from 54 in 2009, according to The Lancet health journal 
  • South Africa has 1 doctor per 1000 population and 3 beds per 1000 population (Spain 3 doctors per 1000 population and 3.4 beds, UK 2 doctors per 1000 population and 4 beds, South Korea 1.4 doctors per 1000 population and 7.1 beds, USA 2.7 doctors per 1000 population and 3 beds). (Economist)
  • South Africa ranked 4th in terms of HIV/Aids prevalence amongst population behind Swaziland, Botswana and Lesotho. (Economist)
  • SA ranks 20th in terms of death per 1000 of population (15) alongside Russia, Afghanistan is at No 1 (18.2), UK ranks 58th (10). South Africa does not feature in the world’s 44 highest infant mortality rates.(Economist)
  • One in five South African adults attend a gym/health club or participate in other exercise (not at a gym/health club), at least monthly.
Denotes Improvement
Denotes Deterioration
Denotes Stayed the same

Arrows indicate Improvement/Deterioration/Same 2016 over 2013 NOT over 2009.

Category 2015/2016 Ranking 2013/2014 Ranking 2009/2010 Ranking
Malaria cases/100 000 population 28 94 130
Business impact of malaria 30 100 103
Infant mortality, deaths/1 000 live births 104 107 112
Business impact of tuberculosis 133 142 135
Life expectancy, years 127 136 136
Business impact of HIV/AIDS 133 143 132
HIV prevalence, % adult population 137 144 133
Tuberculosis cases/100 000 population 138 147 133

# 11 Miscellaneous

  • South Africa has 11 official, state wide, languages, more than any other country.
  • The only street in the world to house 2 Nobel Peace Prize winners is in Soweto. Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu both have houses in Vilakazi Street, Orlando West. SA ranks 7th in terms of number of Nobel Peace prizes. (Economist).
  • Two of the world’s most profoundly compassionate philosophies originated in South Africa – Ubuntu (the belief in a universal bond of sharing that connects all humanity) and Gandhi’s notion of "Passive resistance" (Satyagraha), which he developed while living in South Africa.
  • The Western Deep Level mines are the world’s deepest mines at approaching 4km.
  • South Africa houses one of the three largest telescopes in the world at Sutherland in the Karoo.
  • South Africa is the first, and to date the only, country to build nuclear weapons and then voluntarily dismantle its entire nuclear weapons programme.
  • SA ranks 18th in terms of beer consumption (China 1; USA 2; Russia 3; Brazil 4 and Germany 5).
  • SA has 53 million active cell phones (population 53 million) – ranking in the top 5 globally in terms of cell phone coverage.
  • SA has 66 colour TV’s per 100 households, 9 telephone lines per 100 population and 90 mobile telephone subscribers per 100 population. (Economist).
  • 2 Cape Town restaurants are in the top 50 restaurants in the world according to the S.Pellegrino Worlds 50 Best Restaurants list 2010. La Colombe restaurant in Constantia, Cape Town, was voted the 12th best andLe Quartier Francais in Franschhoek came in at 31
  • South Africa has 8.5 computers per 100 population (UK 80, Spain 40,South Korea 47 and USA 80). (Economist).
  • SA ranks 31st in terms of internet users per 1000 population. (Economist).
  • SA ranks 16th in terms of cinema visits per 1000 population. (Economist).
  • South Africa does not feature on the "brain drain" list of 20 countries, but in the Global Competitiveness Report we rand 39th, a 20 pace improvement over 2013. (Economist). 
  • Less than 2 out of every 10 business owners in JHB in the informal sector were cross-border migrants. Research conducted in 2014 by Gauteng City-Region Observatory.
  • SA's foreign arrivals have grown more than 300 percent since 1994. International visitors contributed 43% (R94,2 billion) of total tourism spend in 2013. 

# 12 Tax

  • SOUTH Africa is ranked 19 out of 189 economies in the 2015 Paying Taxes study conducted by the World Bank and PwC in terms of how easy it is for a medium-sized case study company to pay its taxes.
  • SA has two areas where it could still improve. This includes the total tax rate, which is currently at 29%. The total tax rate is made up of profit taxes (22% of the total tax rate comes from profit taxes), labour taxes and other taxes.
  • According to the study, the total tax rate globally is almost 41%. It takes the average medium-sized company 264 hours to comply with its taxes compared to 200 hours it takes a similar company in SA.
  • The study showed that a South African company only has seven tax payments, compared to the average of almost 26 payments.
  • SA has the 40th-lowest total tax rate out of the 189 economies included in the study. (Business Day)

# 13 Corruption

  • SA ranks 61 out of 168 countries in the global Corruption Perception Index (Where 1 is least corrupt and 175 most corrupt). 
  • In 2008 SA ranked 50/168
  • In 2013 SA ranked 72/168
  • A score of 100 means country ‘clean’, score of 0 means highly corrupt. 
  • SA scored 44/100, this means SA has significant corruption problem.
  • In the sub-Saharan Africa region, the index ranks South Africa at position four. 
  • Botswana 31/168 remains the top scorer in Africa at 63/100


SA is the 27th biggest economy globally (PPP), and roughly the same population-wise and geographically. Our rankings should match this. Since 2002 our global political rankings have deteriorated across the board.

Although we are still considered a premier league country, with overall rankings in the top 60 countries (there are 235 countries in the world, only 80 with populations in excess of 10 million people) the above deterioration is not a pretty picture.

Comments welcome.