03 October 2016

Progress in African governance over last decade held back by deterioration in safety and rule of law, Mo Ibrahim Foundation reports

The 2016 Ibrahim Index of African Governance (IIAG), launched today by the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, reveals that improvement in overall governance in Africa over the past 10 years has been held back by a widespread deterioration in the category of safety and rule of law.

The tenth edition of the IIAG, the most comprehensive analysis of African governance undertaken to date, brings together a decade of data to assess each of Africa’s 54 countries against 95 indicators drawn from 34 independent sources. This year, for the first time, the IIAG includes Public Attitude Survey data from Afrobarometer. This captures Africans’ own perceptions of governance, which provide fresh perspective on the results registered by other data such expert assessment and official data.

Over the last decade, overall governance has improved by one score point at the continental average level, with 37 countries – home to 70% of African citizens – registering progress. This overall positive trend has been led mainly by an improvement in human development and participation and human rights. Sustainable economic opportunity also registered an improvement, but at a slower pace.

However, these positive trends stand in contrast to a pronounced and concerning drop in safety and rule of law, for which 33 out of the 54 African countries – home to almost two-thirds of the continent’s population – have experienced a decline since 2006, 15 of them quite substantially.

This worrying trend has worsened recently, with almost half of the countries on the continent recording their worst score ever in this category within the last three years. This is driven by large deteriorations in the sub-categories of personal safety and national security. Notably, accountability is now the lowest scoring sub-category of the whole index. Without exception, all countries that have deteriorated at the overall governancelevel have also deteriorated in safety and rule of law.

The improvement in the participation and human rights category, found in 37 countries across the continent, has been driven by progress in gender and in participation. However, a marginal deterioration appears in the rights sub-category, with some worrying trends in indicators relating to the civil society space.

Sustainable economic opportunity is the IIAG’s lowest scoring and slowest improving category. However, 38 countries – together accounting for 73% of continental GDP – have recorded an improvement over the last decade. The largest progress has been achieved in the infrastructure sub-category, driven by a massive improvement in the indicator digital & IT infrastructure, the most improved of all 95 indicators. However, the average score for infrastructure still remains low, with the indicator electricity infrastructure registering a particularly worrying decline in 19 countries, home to 40% of Africa’s population. Progress has also been achieved in the rural sector sub-category.

Human development is the best performing category over the last decade, with 43 countries - home to 87% of African citizens – registering progress. All dimensions – education, health and welfare – have improved, although progress in the welfare sub-category has been affected by declines in the social exclusion and poverty reduction priorities indicators.

Mo Ibrahim, chair of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, says: ”The improvement in overall governance in Africa over the last decade reflects a positive trend in a majority of countries and for over two-thirds of the continent’s citizens.

No success, no progress can be sustained without constant commitment and effort. As our index reveals, the decline in safety and rule of law is the biggest issue facing the continent today.

Sound governance and wise leadership are fundamental to tackling this challenge, sustaining recent progress and ensuring that Africa’s future is bright.

Key findings of the 2016 IIAG include: 
  • Over the past decade, the continental average score in overall governance has improved by one point.
  • Since 2006, 37 countries, hosting 70% of African citizens, have improved in overall governance.
  • The greatest improver at the overall governance level over the decade is Côte d’Ivoire (+13.1), followed by Togo (+9.7), Zimbabwe (+9.7), Liberia (+8.7) and Rwanda (+8.4).
  • Even if Ghana and South Africa feature in the top 10 performing countries in overall governance in 2015, they are also the eighth and tenth most deteriorated over the decade.
  • At the overall governance level, the three highest scoring countries in 2015 are Mauritius, Botswana and Cabo Verde, and the three most improved over the decade are Côte d’Ivoire, Togo and Zimbabwe.
  • Safety and rule of law is the only category of the index to register a negative trend over the decade, falling by -2.8 score points in the past 10 years.
  • In 2015, almost two-thirds of African citizens live in a country where safety and rule of law has deteriorated over the last 10 years.
  • Accountability is the lowest scoring (35.1) of the 14 sub-categories in 2015.
  • The continental average score for the corruption & bureaucracy indicator has declined by -8.7 points over the last decade, with 33 countries registering deterioration, 24 of them falling to their worst ever score in 2015.
  • A large majority (78%) of African citizens live in a country that has improved in participation and human rights over the past decade.
  • Progress over the decade in participation & human rights (+2.4 points) has been driven by gender (+4.3) and participation (+3.0), while rights (-0.2) registered a slight decline.
  • Six of the 10 highest scoring countries in rights have registered deterioration in the past 10 years.
  • Two-thirds of the countries on the continent, representing 67% of the African population, have shown deterioration in freedom of expression over the past 10 years. 11 countries, covering over a quarter (27%) of the continent’s population, have declined across all three civil society measures – civil society participation, freedom of expression and freedom of association & assembly – over the decade.
  • In 2015, more than two-thirds of African citizens (70%) live in countries where sustainable economic opportunity has improved in the last ten years.
  • Digital and IT infrastructure is the most improved indicator (out of 95) of the IIAG over the decade.
  • Diversification is the lowest scoring indicator in the IIAG, and shows deterioration over the past 10 years.
  • 40% of Africans live in a country which has registered deterioration in electricity infrastructure over the decade, with over half of Africa’s economy affected by this issue.
  • The marginal deterioration of -0.8 points over the decade registered in business environment masks considerably diverging trends, with 24 countries declining, five by more than -10.0 points, and 28 countries progressing, five by more than +10.0 points.
  • Niger, Rwanda, Côte d’Ivoire, Togo and Kenya have progressed by more than +10.0 points in business environment over the decade.
  • 43 countries, hosting more than four-fifths (87%) of the African population, have registered improvement in human development over the decade. Rwanda, Ethiopia, Angola, and Togo have increased by more than +10.0 points in human development over the decade.
  • All 54 countries have registered progress in child mortality over the decade.
  • Over the last 10 years, the poverty indicator has registered improvement (+7.2 points), with 29 countries, accounting for 67% of Africa’s population and 76% of Africa’s GDP, improving.
  • However, the poverty reduction priorities indicator has registered an average decline of -1.3 points, with 23 countries, hosting 45% of Africa’s population, declining.

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