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Winners and losers: How are African governments progressing?

Côte d’Ivoire is the country that has improved the most in its governance over the last decade.

Côte d’Ivoire is the country that has improved the most in its governance over the last decade.

On Monday, the Mo Ibrahim Foundation launched the 2016 Ibrahim Index of African Governance (IIAG), which assesses and ranks all 54 of the continent’s countries based on their quality of governance.

Progress is measured using four categories: ‘Safety and Rule of Law’, ‘Participation and Human Rights’, ‘Human Development’, and ‘Sustainable Economic Opportunity’. 

This year’s index signifies 10 years of rankings and data collection, and the researchers have used the opportunity to reflect on the continent’s progress over the last decade. Here are the key findings.

Top gainers: Côte d’Ivoire takes the lead

According to the report, 37 countries have improved in ‘Overall Governance’ since 2006. The top improver is Côte d’Ivoire, followed by Togo. Côte d’Ivoire’s progress is attributed to its gains in the ‘Participation and Human Rights’ and ‘Safety and Rule of Law’ categories.

Rwanda is the only country to feature in the top 10 for both ‘Highest scoring Overall’ and ‘Most improved Countries’ over the last decade.

Zimbabwe’s progress stood out too. The country climbed 9.7 points, (although off a low base), ranking at 39 out of 54 countries in 2015.


Libya falls furthest

Over the past 10 years, 16 countries have displayed a downward trend in their ‘Overall Governance’ score, with Libya falling 22 places to 51st in 2015. It saw the greatest deterioration across all of the four sub-categories used to measure ‘Safety and Rule of Law’, dropping more than 50 points in ‘National Security’.

“Libya also registers the largest deterioration on the continent in ‘Sustainable Economic Opportunity’ and ‘Human Development’, driven by considerable declines in ‘Public Management’, ‘Welfare’ and ‘Education’, in which it is the most-deteriorated country,” notes the report.

Madagascar fell second-most, followed by Eritrea.

‘Safety and Rule of Law’ is deteriorating continent-wide

Of the four main categories, ‘Safety and Rule of Law’ is the only one to demonstrate an overall negative trend over the last 10 years. This is despite it being one of the higher-scoring measures.

“Even if it remains the second-highest-scoring category in the IIAG (with a score of 52.1), the decline seen in the majority of African countries in this governance dimension is concerning,” notes the report.

“The deteriorating continental performance in ‘Safety and Rule of Law’ could be holding back governance progress in general; without exception, all countries that have deteriorated in ‘Overall Governance’ have also deteriorated in this category.”

Botswana, Mauritius and Cabo Verde topped the list in this category, and the bottom three places were taken up by Somalia, South Sudan and Central African Republic.

South Africa’s overall governance slipping

South Africa, which has the 6th best governance overall, experienced a fall that sees the continent’s most sophisticated economy placed as its 10th most deteriorated.

Ghana is the only other country to feature among both the 10 highest-scoring and most-deteriorated countries.

Greater economic opportunity

While the category ‘Sustainable Economic Opportunity’ remains the lowest-scoring across the continent, it has improved slightly since 2006. This is accredited mainly to better infrastructure, and the report estimates that 70% of Africans currently live in a country that has better economic opportunities today than 10 years ago.

In spite of this, the ‘Business Environment’ indicator has seen a marginal deterioration. Mauritius, South Africa and Morocco are ranked in the top three countries in the category, while Somalia, South Sudan and Libya are the bottom.

Corruption and bureaucracy on the rise

The continental average score for the ‘Corruption and Bureaucracy’ measure has dropped 8.7 points. Of the 33 countries that saw a fall in the indicator, 24 received their worst-ever score in 2015.

And the winner is…

Mauritius is the number one country on the list for governance overall, and Botswana and Cabo Verde claimed the second and third prizes. Somalia, South Sudan and Central African Republic have less reason to celebrate, with the last three spots.

How we made it in Africa live-streamed the report launch. You can watch the recording here.

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