You never walk alone

03 November 2015 - 02:11 By Suthentira Govender

Fewer than 50% of South Africans are satisfied with their standard of living and only 50% approve of the government, says a global prosperity index report. The annual Legatum Prosperity Index - which ranks 142 countries according to economy, education, health, safety and governance, has come out as South Africa grapples with a struggling economy, student uprisings and service-delivery protests.South Africa is ranked 75th in the index and has risen six places since last year, which returns it to the position in which it was in 2009. The top five "most prosperous" countries are Norway, Switzerland, Denmark, New Zealand and Sweden, while Central African Republic, Afghanistan, Haiti, Chad and Burundi are the least prosperous.The index report, compiled by London-based think-tank and educational charity Legatum Institute, says South Africa is the top-ranking country in sub-Saharan Africa, above Botswana and Namibia and Senegal. But it ranks 83rd for quality of education."Most worrying, however, is that only 31% of South Africans feel safe walking alone at night. This is the third-lowest percentage in the world and one of the reasons the country scores poorly in the safety and security category of the prosperity index," said Legatum's Stephen Clarke.South Africa gained ground in entrepreneurship and opportunity, ranking 37th in the world."The country's strong performance is due, in part, to its strong technological infrastructure. The country has 16 secure internet servers per one million people," said Clarke."It now ranks 95th in the economy sub-index and 112th in safety and security."The fall in safety and security is the result of the number of people reporting they had money stolen from them in the past 12 months," said Clarke.Nathan Gamester, the institute's programme director, said prosperity "is about more than economic growth, it is about improvement in people's lives."This year we see that the prosperity of some African countries was built on shaky foundations."Gamester said national success is about continual improvements in "health, education and wellbeing of citizens, not just short-term economic growth".Economist Mike Schussler was not surprised by the scores."But I was very surprised with education because, generally speaking, when we compare our education outcomes at school level we fare badly. Our universities fare better but their rankings generally decreased this year."The index finds 83% of South Africans think children have a chance to learn and 74.5% are satisfied with quality of education. But wellbeing is undermined by poor policing and criminals often seem to get away and that destroys some of the good work others are doing.Schussler said while South Africa was "certainly not in trouble", it was not a shining light of "stellar global performance"."This is not Zimbabwe or Central Africa but neither are we Singapore or Switzerland."We seem to be average and we are becoming more average. I don't think that's what we wish for ourselves."

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