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The Sustainable Competitiveness Observatory

The Sustainable Competitiveness Observatory (SCO) is an instrument to measure integration in the world economy. Competitiveness conditions the improvement in populations' standard of living. Without efficient access to foreign markets, sustainable economic development is very hypothetical, all the more so for the 54 African economies, most of which are small, not very diversified and whose labour market is confronted with the problem of integrating a large and fast-growing active population.

Africa, from attractiveness to emergence

In this age of globalisation, competitiveness takes on a major importance. This competitiveness must be sustainable (i.e., be able to be maintained over time and not be acquired at the expense of the environment, especially the climate). In order for the growth momentum of African countries to remain strong, which is an essential economic, political and social stake for them, the development must be accompanied by an improvement in competitiveness, especially vis-à-vis emerging countries. Even if Africa is becoming an attractive continent, many countries still suffer from unfavourable conditions in different areas, such as the quality and price of infrastructure services, the solidity of institutions or even the vulnerability to political, economic and climate uncertainties.

The difficulty measuring Africa's sustainable competitiveness

The measurement of Africa's competitiveness remains incomplete in spite of the many existing databases. For a long time the relative prices criteria has been the entry key, to some extent the only analytical prism, while the role of institutions, poorly assessed, was treated as a narrative or even anecdotally. Conversely, today the questions of governance monopolise observers' attention. They constitute the main factor of influence on competitiveness, but one takes the risk of skirting round the nonetheless important analysis of relative costs and prices.

The SCO, for a comprehensive and original understanding of sustainable competitiveness

The route leading to African countries' emergence requires better knowledge and better understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of the economies. The Foundation for International Development Study and Research (FERDI) created the Sustainable Competitiveness Observatory (OCD) for this purpose. The observatory operates in multiple ways, by:

  • Building the most comprehensive dashboard possible on the competitiveness of 54 African economies;
  • establishing its complementarity with the standard databases that shed light on the often particular aspects of competitiveness (the World Bank's Doing Business, the Global Competitiveness Report of the Davos Forum, etc.);
  • critically compiling and capitalising existing information;
  • designing innovative indicators;
  • processing or re-processing data;
  • updating indicators annually;
  • benchmarking 54 African countries against each other and vis-à-vis the three major emerging powers (Brazil, China and India);
  • and making comparisons between regional African groups; andpreparing an annual report on sustainable competitiveness in Africa.


...benefiting from the skills of a network of high-level experts

  • The relationship between competitiveness and performance naturally lends itself to academic type work. The OCD relies on FERDI's research programmes as part of the IDGM+ (Initiative for Development and Global Governance) laboratory of excellence operated with the Institute of Sustainable Development and International Relations (IDDRI) and the Centre of Studies and Research on International Development (Cerdi);
  • a dense network constituted of the main development practioners and analysts, but also academic experts from the best universities and research centres, from the North and South. The components of the pillars are based on the combination of many macro-economic and sectoral variables.

...and solid roots in the African countries

FERDI already has a dense network of partners it shares with CERDI in African countries, both with administrations as well as universities, research centres and economic policy analysis units, especially in the Ivory Coast and Senegal. Close partnerships have also been developed with regional institutions (African Development Bank, UEMOA Commissions, CEMAC, BCEAO, BEAC, regional banks, etc.).