South Africa ranks 6th in Africa for quality of life

The KPMG Good Life Index, the first of its type for Africa, was recently released. According to the index, South Africa ranks sixth, behind Ghana and ahead of Senegal. Mauritius ranks first, followed by Botswana, Namibia and Tunisia.

The KPMG Good Life Index has been developed to provide an alternative to the contentious use of gross domestic product (GDP) to differentiate between poor and rich nations. It looks beyond economic activity to provide a balanced view of a nation’s quality of life.

KPMG has identified three key areas that are essential to understanding well-being: socioeconomic conditions, environment and governance.

Socio-economic factors bring SA’s rank down

While South Africa scores among the highest on the continent for personal freedom, its ranking is drawn down by low scores for safety, health, income and employment.

Its strongest rankings are for environment and governance, but there is room for improvement in terms of socio-economic topics like health, income and employment. South Africa ranks last on the continent for safety as confidence in local law enforcement is strained while the private security sector continues to grow.

It also ranks poorly in terms of health – second last in Africa for health and wellness and 40th for life expectancy. The prevalence of HIV has had a big impact on this ranking with an estimated 7 million people in South Africa living with HIV in 2015.

The country’s overall ranking is further drawn down by the unemployment rate (26.6 percent in the second quarter of 2016) and earnings, especially in low-skilled jobs, that are not sufficient to reduce poverty.

However, the index recommends that a on the developmental areas of health, safety, income and employment will contribute to increasing the general quality of life in South Africa.

How did the rest of Africa do?

In terms of the rest of Africa, Southern Africa performs the best and Central Africa the worst. Regionally, North Africa is the overall top performer in the socio-economic conditions pillar, especially with regards to the housing and health topics.

Only four countries scored higher than 0.7 (representing a high quality of life) – Mauritius, Botswana, Namibia and Tunisia. Interestingly, one of Africa’s largest economies in terms of GDP, Nigeria, ranks 27th.

Nigeria’s and South Africa’s ranking despite relatively strong GDP’s are indicative of what the wellness index set out to achieve. Wellness measures such as this are a better alternative to using GDP to reflect the well-being of a nation as it looks beyond economic activity. The KPMG Good Life Index was built specifically for Africa on the premise that a better understanding of people’s well-being is essential to developing better policies and, effectively, better lives.

The majority of countries perform poorly with regards to the good governance pillar, which includes the topics politics, stability, freedom, safety and legal. The

The majority of countries perform poorly with regards to the good governance pillar, which includes the topics politics, stability, freedom, safety and legal.

The KPMG Good Life Index can influence policy-making and resource-allocation

The Good Life Index is not meant to replace gross domestic product (GDP) as a measure, but is to be used alongside it to provide a more balanced view of quality of life.

The KPMG Good Life Index helps to gain a better understanding of the differences in quality of life across Africa. It yields a more balanced perspective of Africa’s quality of life at a country level, but could also change the way governments make policies and allocate resources.

More information







Lullu Krugel
Chief Economist
KPMG in South Africa
KPMG profile





David Okwara

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