Good Governance In Africa Took A Blow, Says Ibrahim Foundation

Written by Dana Sanchez

Economics and security issues are the two leading reasons for a decline in governance in Africa, according to the ninth annual Ibrahim Index of African Governance, which was released on Monday.

Deteriorating safety and lack of economic opportunity overshadowed any gains made in human rights — especially in resource-rich nations — according to the results of a survey, Reuters reported.

An annual report card of how African governments are doing, the Ibrahim Index of African Governance showed steady improvement in previous years but now it has stalled, according to a report in TheEconomist.

The index, which considers a variety of factors from rule of law and corruption to sanitation and infrastructure, is compiled by the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, founded by British-Sudanese telecoms magnate-turned-philanthropist Mo Ibrahim.

This decline is a worrying sign to governments and foreign investors counting on the Africa as the next engine of global economic growth, Ibrahim said, according to a WallStreetJournal report. “We can’t pat ourselves on the back and pretend everything is hunky-dory. It’s not.”

The latest report shows that little has changed changed on average since 2011 when it comes to governance in Africa. In previous years the index showed steady improvements by most countries. Now some of the highest-ranked countries are showing deterioration in governance. Of the 10 top-ranked countries, five have had their governance scores go down since 2011.

The index rates 54 African nations for security, human rights, economic stability, fair laws, free elections, corruption, infrastructure, poverty, health and education. It’s considered the most comprehensive survey of its kind on the continent, Reuters reports.

Mauritius held onto its No. 1 position in the rankings, followed by Cape Verde, Botswana, South Africa and Namibia. Seychelles, Ghana, Tunisia, Senegal and Lesotho finished out the top 10.

Overall the index improved just 0.2 percent in four years and scores went down for half the top-10 ranked countries, the survey said.

It’s not all bad news, WSJ reports. Ivory Coast, which was mired in civil war four years ago, showed the most improvement in this year’s index. Kenya’s economy is also growing fast.

Still, slumping commodity prices are expected to contribute to slow economic growth across sub-Saharan Africa — forecast at 3.3 percent in 2015 compared to 5 percent in 2014, according to research firm Capital Economics.

Overall, the average decline in scores was dragged down by conflicts in South Sudan, Libya and the Central African Republic, but even peaceful countries slipped when it came to security, according to the report. Mauritius, Botswana and Tanzania were also among the backsliders, TheEconomist reported.

The biggest decline in the past four years was in the category of sustainable economic opportunity, said Elizabeth McGrath, director of the Ibrahim Index of African Governance, in a Reuters interview.

She said this decline relates to governments’ efforts to provide an appealing environment for investment and business; and towards developing a more prosperous society.

The business environment showed deterioration for four straight years, McGrath said. Soundness of banks suffered a double-digit decline on the index.

The Mo Ibrahim Foundation says it is busier than ever talking with countries about the index, according to The Economist.

“They are aware that it is a tool for public policy, as well as an index that is widely used by investors,” said Nathalie Delapalme, who heads up research and policy at the foundation.

If Mo Ibrahim has created a dashboard that governments themselves use to track their progress, then there is still hope that the numbers will start improving again, TheEconomist reported.