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The recently launched Ibrahim Index of African Governance (IIAG) indicates that over the last four years, governance progress in Africa has stalled, and reveals a shifting landscape.

Governance progress in Africa is stalling, reports Mo Ibrahim Foundation, with 21 countries recording weakening performance in the 2015 IIAG

The recently launched Ibrahim Index of African Governance (IIAG) indicates that over the last four years, governance progress in Africa has stalled, and reveals a shifting landscape. During the period 2011-14, the African average overall governance score in the IIAG increased only slightly by +0.2 points to 50.1 (out of 100.0), with considerable changes in performance during the last four years at all levels of the Index, both at country and at category level.

The Mo Ibrahim Foundation was established in 2006 with a focus on the critical importance of leadership and governance in Africa. By providing tools to support progress in leadership and governance, the Foundation aims to promote meaningful change on the continent.

The Ibrahim Index of African Governance (IIAG) provides an annual assessment of the quality of governance in African countries and is the most comprehensive collection of data on African governance. The 2015 IIAG combines 93 indicators from 33 independent African and global data institutions. The 2015 IIAG covers 54 African countries. For the first time the IIAG also includes South Sudan and Sudan as there are enough disaggregated data to analyse their performances, following South Sudan’s secession in 2011.

The 2015 IIAG consists of 93 indicators which fall into four categories: Safety & Rule of Law, Participation & Human Rights, Sustainable Economic Opportunity and Human Development.

Only Six Countries Registered Improvement across all Categories

At the London launch of the IIAG, Mo Ibrahim stressed the importance of data. “We need the discussion about Africa to be based on facts, not emotions,’ adding that ‘there are 54 countries; let us look in depth at individual countries. Then you can have a sensible debate.”

Twenty-one countries, including five of the top ten, have deteriorated in overall governance performance since 2011. Only six countries register an improvement across each of the four categories of the IIAG: Côte d’Ivoire, Morocco, Rwanda, Senegal, Somalia and Zimbabwe.

Governance is a crucial matter for Africa, says Ibrahim. “Governance is not for academics; it’s for every citizen to know about governance. If governance is about deliverables to citizens, then it is measurable….with it, the citizens of the country have something in their hands, something factual which they can have a discussion with their government with.”

It is important to emphasise the diversity of the continent, Ibrahim stressed. “What is Africa? 54 countries and countries are behaving and doing different things. You need to drill into the data to understand what’s happening. Let the data speak for itself.”

At the regional level, the continental trend in overall governance masks varying performances and a widening range between the regions. Southern Africa remains the best performing region, with an average score of 58.9, followed by West Africa (52.4), North Africa (51.2) and East Africa (44.3). Central Africa is the lowest ranking region with an average score of 40.9, and is the only region to have deteriorated since 2011.

“We have this data now for 15 years and we see that governance in total has moved a way up over 15 years, but we see African government improvement stalling. Why is that?”

The marginal improvement in overall governance at the continental level is underpinned by positive performances in only two categories, Human Development (+1.2) and Participation & Human Rights (+0.7). Both Sustainable Economic Opportunity (-0.7) and Safety & Rule of Law (-0.3) have deteriorated.

“We draw on 36 organisations for the data. We have this data now for 15 years and we see that governance in total has moved a way up over 15 years but we see African government improvement stalling. Why is that?” Ibrahim asked.

Of the four main components of governance rated; two moved up slightly, while two moved slightly downwards. “Movements are slow because countries don’t change overnight,” says Ibrahim. “What is improving is human development. Health and education continue to grow. Also some improvement in participation and human rights; the democratic process has seen some improvement.”

Of the two which deteriorated, he said, one is safety and rule of law. “The main driver for that is the cross-border or armed conflicts in some African countries. Economic opportunity also slowed down.”

Some improvements are not good enough. “Gender has been improving for past 15 years, but coming from a very low base,’ he said. “So there is still a red flag around the area of gender.”

“Some countries are doing well. For example, Tunisia, because it’s managed the democratic process much better than its neighbours. Other countries such as Rwanda, Togo and Kenya are focusing on development and are out of conflict. They have also been buoyed by increased investments, increased domestic consumption and growth in regional trade.”

The importance and significance of youth unemployment in Africa should not be ignored, said the Chair of the Foundation, “We have a huge number of young people coming of age. Jobs are a challenge; there is a huge need for jobs.” The view was echoed at the launch by Aïcha Bah Diallo, a member of the Ibrahim Prize Committee. “You can’t ignore the youth; either we take care of them or they will take care of us.”

Key findings of the IIAG 2015 include:  

The African average score for overall governance in 2014 is 50.1, a slight improvement since 2011 (+0.2). Over the last four years, only half of the top ten governance performers managed to improve their overall governance score, and 21 of the 54 countries have deteriorated.

The Sustainable Economic Opportunity category exhibits both the lowest continental average score (43.2) and the largest performance drop since 2011

(-0.7). Sustainable Economic Opportunity includes the most deteriorated sub-category in the IIAG since 2011, Business Environment (-2.5). This sub-category includes the most deteriorated indicator in the IIAG over this time period, Soundness of Banks (-11.0).

Among the generally negative trend of the Sustainable Economic Opportunity category, four countries, Morocco (+11.2), Togo (+9.5), Kenya (+5.9) and Democratic Republic of Congo (+5.4), exhibit impressive gains of more than +5.0 points.

The overall governance score range between the best regional performer, Southern Africa, and the poorest regional performer, Central Africa, is more than 18.1 points in 2014. This has widened by +1.7 points since 2011.

With a 79.9 score for overall governance in 2014, Mauritius stands over 70 points higher than the continent’s weakest governance performer, Somalia, which achieved a score of 8.5.

The top three countries, Mauritius, Cabo Verde and Botswana, all exhibit a decline in overall governance and in at least two of the four components over the last four years, calling into question whether these countries will continue to dominate the top of the rankings in future.

The bottom three countries in overall governance are Central African Republic (24.9), South Sudan (19.9) and Somalia (8.5). Two of these, South Sudan (-9.6) and Central African Republic (-8.4), have also registered the most extreme deteriorations, along with Mali (-8.1).

The top ten improvers in overall governance over the last four years represent almost a quarter of the continent’s population. Five of these countries, Senegal (9th), Kenya (14th), Morocco (16th) Rwanda (11th) and Tunisia (8th), already rank in the top 20 of the IIAG, leading to the question of whether they might become the continent’s next powerhouses.

For Mo Ibrahim, it is time for governments to sit up and take notice. “While Africans overall are certainly healthier and live in more democratic societies than 15 years ago, the 2015 IIAG shows that recent progress in other key areas on the continent has either stalled or reversed, and that some key countries seem to be faltering. This is a warning sign for all of us. Only shared and sustained improvements across all areas of governance will deliver the future that Africans deserve and demand.”

Visit www.moibrahimfoundation.org/ iiag for further details.

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