The network maps show that economies tend to develop through closely
related products. A country such as Colombia makes products that are
well connected on the network, and so there are plenty of opportunities
for private firms to move in to, provided other parts of the business
climate allow it. But many of South Africa’s current exports–diamonds,
for example–are not very similar to anything.
If the country is to develop new products, it will mean making a big leap. The data show that such leaps are unusual.