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Image What the outcome of the 2010 Ibrahim Index says about the success of democracy and governance in Africa

The 2010 Ibrahim Index, released towards the end of last year, shows recent gains in many countries in human and economic development but declines in political rights, personal safety and the rule of law.

The Ibrahim Index, launched in four cities across the continent, is published by the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, an organisation committed to supporting good governance and great leadership in Africa. The Index assesses the delivery of public goods and services to citizens by governments and non-state actors across 88 indicators.

A Mixed Picture on Governance

Upon issuing this year’s Index Mo Ibrahim, Founder and Chair of the Foundation, said: ‘The 2010 Ibrahim Index gives us a mixed picture about recent progress on governance across the continent. While many African citizens are becoming healthier and have greater access to economic opportunities than five years ago, many of them are less physically secure and less politically enfranchised.’

The Ibrahim Index is Africa’s leading assessment of governance, established to inform and empower the continent’s citizens and to support governments, parliaments and civil society to assess progress.

The 2010 Ibrahim Index, released towards the end of the year, shows recent gains in many countries in human and economic development but declines in political rights, personal safety and the rule of law.


The 2010 Ibrahim Index shows both areas of progress and setbacks in governance between 2004/05 and 2008/09 (the most recent period assessed). Among some of the key points noted are:

  • Overall governance quality remains largely unchanged from previous years, with a continental average score of 49. However, this average masks large variation in performance across countries. Angola, Liberia, and Togo have all seen significant improvements in governance performance scores.
  • In both Sustainable Economic Opportunity and Human Development there have been improvements in many African countries. Importantly, no country has declined significantly in these categories.
  • In Sustainable Economic Opportunity, 41 African states improved; ten of these were significant.
  • In Human Development, 44 of Africa’s 53 countries progressed driven by improvements in most countries in the Health and Welfare sub-category. Two of the improvements in Human Development were significant.
  • This progress is not mirrored in Safety and Rule of Law and Participation and Human Rights.
  • In Safety and Rule of Law, 35 African states have declined; five of these were significant declines.
  • In Participation and Human Rights, although the results were more mixed, almost two-thirds of African countries declined in the Participation and Rights sub-categories.
  • Analysis of the performance of countries in the Gender sub-category shows some progress.
Political and Economic Governance

Considering these results, Salim Ahmed Salim, Board Member of the Foundation and former Secretary-General of the Organisation of African Unity, said: ‘We must ensure that the political side of governance in Africa is not neglected. We have seen from evidence and experience across the world that discrepancies between political governance and economic management are unsustainable in the long term. If Africa is going to continue to make progress we need to pay attention to the rights and safety of citizens.’

The Ibrahim Index of African Governance was created in recognition of the need for a robust, comprehensive and quantifiable tool for citizens and governments to track governance performance in Africa. The Ibrahim Index continues to be improved each year as part of the Foundation’s commitment to ensure it is a living and progressive tool.

The 2010 version includes an additional indicator assessing governments’ statistical capacity, providing insight into governments’ commitment to outcomes-driven policy-making and evaluation. New indicators have also been included to assess gender issues, provision of antiretroviral treatment and access to water and sanitation. However the paucity of data about Africa continues to be a challenge for the Foundation in the compilation of the Index. Official data for many key indicators of governance, for example, income poverty, maternal mortality, and physical infrastructure are patchy or out-of-date. Commissioning and finding indicators that allow these key areas, among others, to be included in the Index as well as strengthening the assessment of issues currently covered by the Index remain a core priority for the Foundation.

The Ibrahim Prize

The Mo Ibrahim Foundation is committed to supporting great African leadership that will improve the economic and social prospects of the people of Africa. The Foundation’s focus is the promotion of good governance in Africa and the recognition of excellence in African leadership.

The Foundation also confers the Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership, the largest annually awarded prize in the world. The Prize Committee, chaired by Kofi Annan, awards US$5 million to a former Executive Head of State or Government who has demonstrated exceptional leadership during their time in office.

The Ibrahim Prize recognises and celebrates excellence in African leadership. The prize is awarded to a democratically elected former African Executive Head of State.


The Ibrahim Prize recognises and celebrates excellence in African leadership. The prize is awarded to a democratically elected former African Executive Head of State or Government who has served their term in office within the limits set by the country's constitution and has left office in the last three years.

Following its deliberations, the Prize Committee informed the Board of the Foundation that it had not selected a winner for the 2010 Mo Ibrahim Prize. In 2009 the Prize Committee announced that it had considered some credible candidates, but after in depth review could not select a winner. Image In 2010 the Prize Committee told the Board that there had been no new candidates or new developments and that therefore no selection of a winner had been made.

The first winner of the Prize was Joaquim Chissano, former President of Mozambique in 2007, followed by Festus Mogae, former President of Botswana in 2008. In addition Nelson Mandela was made an Honorary Laureate in 2007.

Mo Ibrahim, the founder and Chairman of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, said: “The Board respects the decision of the Prize Committee not to select a winner for the 2010 prize. The Prize Committee, which is independent from the Board, is a unique repository of experience and expertise.

Ibrahim Leadership Fellowships

“Whether there is a winner or not, the purpose of the Foundation is to challenge those in Africa and across the world to debate what constitutes excellence in leadership.

“The standards set for the Prize winner are high, and the number of potential candidates each year is small. So it is likely that there will be years when no Prize is awarded. In the current year, no new candidates emerged.

“Many African countries are making great strides not just economically, but also in terms of their governance. The Ibrahim Index, which measures the performance of African countries across around 80 governance criteria, indicates that the overall standard of governance is improving.

“Nevertheless, the Foundation is anything but complacent about the standards of governance in Africa. Its mission is to improve governance and nurture leadership in Africa. It is clear that much more needs to be done. It is for that reason that the Foundation has decided to promote complementary initiatives.



“For example, the Foundation will shortly be launching the Ibrahim Leadership Fellowships, a selective programme designed to identify and prepare the next generation of outstanding African leaders by providing them with mentoring opportunities in key multilateral institutions. The programme will seek to attract a number of highly qualified and talented professionals each year to serve in leading institutions whose core objective to improve the prospects of the people of Africa.

“The Foundation is currently working with pan-African organisations to design the fellowships. It will announce further details of them at the Foundation’s annual celebration and forum on governance to be held in Mauritius in November. Applications will open shortly afterwards and we expect the first Leadership Fellows to begin their Fellowships early next year.

“The task of promoting good African leadership is more important than ever. Good governance is crucial if African people are to share in the strong economic growth that many are predicting for Africa. There are many ways to support great leadership. The prize is one such way, the fellowships will be another.”

The 2010 Ibrahim Index of African Governance is based on the latest available data for each indicator; this data is mostly from 2009. Where 2009 data are unavailable, 2008 data are used. The 2010 Ibrahim Index includes retrospectively revised scores and rankings for previous years to reflect newly available data and changes to the indicators that are included in the Index.
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