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After a year of bearish commentary on South Africa's economy, following waves of industrial strike action and negative ratings outlook on its sovereign debt, it's great to see its securities exchange and financial markets still producing a world-class performance.

South Africa has again been ranked first out of 148 countries for regulation of securities exchanges for the fourth consecutive year by the World Economic Forum (WEF) Global Competiveness Report.

This indicates the country is still open for business, highly competitive, and remains the market leader in Sub-Saharan Africa. The country has also ranked third for market development.

The Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE's) Director of Issuer Regulation, John Burke, says: "We are very pleased with this accolade for South Africa, which indicates that the JSE is a secure and credible environment to raise capital and in which to invest," says "Investors, regardless of size, can have a high level of comfort when using the exchange. This ranking is also testament the JSE and [it's regulator] the Financial Services Board (FSB)'s sound working relationship."

Investors can also therefore take comfort in this ranking as a testament to South Africa's auditing and reporting standards; efficacy of corporate boards; and the protection of minority shareholders' interests. Says Burke: "South Africa has access to deep pools of capital both from our well-developed local investment community and high participation of foreign investors. This makes the exchange an ideal destination to raise capital for development in the region."

You can access the full WEF Global Competitiveness Report here.