Examining the 2012 Ibrahim index of African governance

No Winner for Leadership Prize

Though governance has been improving in many countries in Africa, countries regarded as regional ‘powerhouses’ – Egypt, Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa – are lagging behind, according to the sixth Ibrahim Index of African Governance (IIAG).

The index was published in London, at the same time the Mo Ibrahim Foundation announced there was no winner for this year’s African Leadership Prize for Good Governance, worth $5m over 10 years and $200,000 annually for life thereafter for the winner.

”Over the past six years, all four countries [see above] have declined in two of the four main IIAG categories – Safety & Rule of Law and Participation & Human Rights. Each of these four countries deteriorated the most in the Participation sub-category, which assesses the extent to which citizens have the freedom to participate in the political process, the PanAfrican News Agency, PANA, reported.

”South Africa and Kenya have also registered declines in Sustainable Economic Opportunity. And Nigeria, West Africa’s powerhouse, has for the first time this year fallen into the bottom ten governance performers on the continent,” it said.

West Africa on the Up

At the regional level, while West, Central and Southern Africa are slowly improving their overall governance scores, both North Africa and East Africa have registered declines.

East Africa has now been overtaken by West Africa in the category of Sustainable Economic Opportunity. Two of the anchor countries of East Africa – Kenya and Uganda – have demonstrated deterioration in Sustainable Economic Opportunity, dragging down the regional trends.

Over the last six years, Tanzania has climbed up the IIAG’s rankings, making it into the top ten for the first time. Angola, Liberia and Togo have left the IIAG’s group of the 10 worst performers. They have been replaced by Eritrea, Guinea Bissau and Nigeria.

From 2000 to 2011, seven countries demonstrated a significant improvement in their overall governance score: Liberia, Angola, Sierra Leone, Rwanda, Republic of Congo, DR Congo and Zambia. One country, Madagascar, has significantly declined.

Overall, since 2006, the strongest continental performances are registered in the categories of Sustainable Economic Opportunity and Human Development, where there have been improvements in all sub-categories.  Meanwhile, the categories of Safety & Rule of Law and Participation & Human Rights have registered declines, mainly due to regressions in three sub-categories: Rule of Law, Personal Safety and Rights.

Over the last six years, almost half (21) of the 52 African countries register increased imbalance between the four categories.   The 2012 IIAG shows that five of the six most imbalanced countries belong to North Africa: Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco and Tunisia.

North Africa Most Imbalanced

Not only does North Africa remain the most imbalanced region in Africa, it has also experienced the greatest regional governance deterioration since 2006. Contrary to the other four regions, North Africa is the only one that has deteriorated in the sub-categories of National Security, Public Management and Infrastructure.

Top Five Stay the Same

There has been no change in the top five this year – with Mauritius topping the index with a score of 83 out of 100, ahead of Cape Verde (78), Botswana (77), Seychelles (73) and South Africa (71).

Somalia remained at the bottom with a score of seven, behind DRCongo (33), Chad (33), Eritrea (33) and the Central African Republic (34).

“The major improvements were in health, the rural sector, the economy. The interesting development was in gender. Gender has improved amazingly over the last 10 to 11 years. The highest improvement in any category in the index”, said Mo Ibrahim.

“It is not individual leaders who will take our continent forward it will be an overall leadership directive driven by Africa’s people,” South African board member of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation Jay Naidoo told the Mail & Guardian. On the lack of a prizewinner, Naidoo said: “Governance is improving; it’s just the simple fact that nobody met our very stringent criteria this year round.

“The Mo Ibrahim Foundation has awarded the annual prize only three times since it was established, plus two special awards given to former president Nelson Mandela and earlier in October to Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu for “speaking truth to power”.

Other previous winners of the coveted award include Botswana’s President Festus Mogae and Mozambique’s Joaquim Chissano. In 2011, Cape Verde President Pedro Verona Pires was announced as winner after he led the fight against Portuguese colonialism, introduced multi-party politics and improved living standards.

Writing in The Times, London Mo Ibrahim said the annual index showed that economic progress comes amid democratic stagnation, even recession. “We are not seeing the kind of visionary leadership that will help us to make the transition from our 20th-century challenges to becoming dynamic 21st-century players on the global stage.”

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