Sub-Saharan African countries are embracing the digital economy to boost competitiveness, a new report by Agility, a global supply chain company, has found.
Titled “Agility Emerging Markets Logistics Index,” the report said leading African economies that have struggled to improve their infrastructure, business conditions, and overall competitiveness are generally performing better against other emerging markets in areas that measure their digital skills and sustainability.
For the 13th year running, the company ranks countries for overall competitiveness based on their logistics strengths, business climates, and, for the first time, their digital readiness.
It measures all factors that make them attractive to logistics providers, freight forwarders, air and ocean carriers, distributors, and investors.
But, in assessing Digital Readiness, Agility said it measures the potential and progress of an emerging market that is becoming a digitally-led, skills-rich, innovation-oriented, and sustainable economy for the future.
Other factors that were considered are internet access, e-commerce growth, investment climate, and ability to nurture startups, as well as sustainability factors such as renewable energy mix, lower emissions intensity, and green initiatives.
The importance of digital readiness was apparent in the survey, the report said, adding that logistics executives identified the adoption of technology as the leading driver of economic and business growth for emerging markets.
The top focus areas for their companies are technology and sustainability.
Overall, the index shows a ranking of the world’s 50 leading emerging markets as well as a survey of 756 supply chain industry professionals.
Nigeria was placed 34th out of the 50 countries in the overall index. But in digital readiness, the country was ranked 31 out of 50.
In 2019, Nigeria renamed the nation’s communication ministry to the Federal Ministry of Communication and Digital Economy. The change was to “properly position and empower the ministry to fulfil its digital economy objectives,” the government said.
Agility CEO Tarek Sultan said the connection between a country’s digital capabilities and growth prospects is undeniable.
“The competitiveness of emerging markets countries will be determined by their ability to develop digitally skilled businesses and talent pools, and find the resolve to lower their emissions in ways that spur growth rather than sacrificing it,” Mr Sultan said in a statement sent to PREMIUM TIMES.
Placed 28 on the overall index, Kenya is 17th in digital readiness while South Africa is 24th overall and 21st in digital readiness ranking.
Likewise, Ghana is 32nd overall and 23rd in digital readiness.
Although Nigeria did not perform above average in the overall index and its digital readiness, the report said it has improved in domestic logistic opportunities where it ranked 12th out of 50.
For the international logistic opportunities and business fundamentals, Nigeria was placed 43rd out of 50.
The report noted that most logistics industry executives see moderate-to-strong economic growth and little or no chance of a recession in 2022, even without immediate relief from the snarled supply chains and sky-high ocean and air freight rates triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic.
It said the industry’s optimism reflects the fact that emerging economies are getting more resilient and figuring out ways to weather supply chain disruption.
“If emerging markets can get better access to vaccines and give small businesses a boost, they can help power abroad, dynamic global recovery,” the report added.
“About two-thirds of the 756 industry professionals surveyed for the Index believe shippers will see cargo rates come down by the end of the year. Likewise, 80 per cent experienced port bottlenecks, air capacity shortages, and trucking issues easing by year-end.”