Moving backwards? Governance progress in Africa has stalled - Mo Ibrahim

The African average score for overall governance is 50.1 (the data for each indicator is put on a standardised range of 0-100

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The 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.

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Published annually, the IIAG provides a comprehensive assessment of governance performance for each of the 54 African countries. 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.

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.

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.

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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.

Mo Ibrahim, Chair of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, says: “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.”

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.

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