October 23, 2013 (The Guardian) — African countries have experienced widespread human development and improved economic opportunities since 2000, but the rule of law has deteriorated in a number of countries, according to the Ibrahim index of African governance (IIAG).
The annual index, published on Monday by the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, was established by the Sudanese philanthropist in 2006 to chart Africa‘s development progress.
The 2013 edition found that 94% of people in 52 countries – Sudan and South Sudan have been excluded for a second successive year due to lack of available data – lived in a country that had demonstrated improved overall governance since the turn of the century. However, average scores in the category looking specifically at safety and the rule of law showed a marked decline.
“If this deterioration is not turned around, it could signal an era where, despite fewer regional conflicts, we will see an increase in domestic social unrest across Africa,” Mo Ibrahim wrote in a foreword to the report.
Ibrahim said the index presented a “mixture of overall progress but increased complexity”, as it showed vast differences between countries and highlighted the challenges faced by governments in sustaining that progress.
“Eighteen of the 52 countries analysed saw their best ever performance in this year’s IIAG. But these figures, of course, also reveal the challenges of sustaining progress and underline that an equitable allocation of resources must be a priority for policy and decision makers,” he added.
The index marks countries for their progress in four categories: human development, participation and human rights, sustainable economic opportunity, and safety and the rule of law.
There were no surprises at the top- and bottom-ranked countries overall. At the upper end of the scale, Mauritius was followed by Botswana, Cape Verde and Seychelles. These four countries have shared the four top slots, in various positions, since the index was launched in 2007.
Somalia was the poorest performing country overall and in all four categories, a position it has held for the past seven years. Second from bottom was the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), followed by Eritrea and then the Central African Republic (CAR).
Liberia, Angola, Sierra Leone, Rwanda and Burundi have made the biggest improvements since 2000, while Madagascar, Eritrea, Guinea-Bissau, Somalia and Libya have deteriorated the most over that period.
There were huge disparities in the category marking rule of law and safety, which incorporates a number of indicators including judicial process, accountability and transparency, corruption, social unrest, violent crime, conflict and refugees. The highest-scoring country, Botswana, achieved 88.9 out of 100; Somalia, at the other end of the table, scored 4.9, while DRC and CAR scored 24.5 and 24.9 respectively.
Mali was among the five countries that experienced the biggest deterioration in the rule of law and safety since 2000. Its score in this category has declined steadily over the years, and dropped a further 10 points between 2011 and 2012, when the country experienced a food crisis and insurgency. Egypt’s score also dropped by seven points between 2011 and 2012.Thirty-five of the 52 countries demonstrated improvements in the human rights and participation category since 2000, although the indicator looking specifically at rights recorded a decline, while those on participation rates and gender improved. The figures suggest that legislation enshrining people’s rights at international and national level has not necessarily translated into action.
About 90% of African countries made progress on sustainable economic opportunities, while all have improved their human development records since 2000.
The Mo Ibrahim Foundation defines governance as “the provision of the political, social and economic public goods and services that a citizen has the right to expect from his or her state, and that a state has the responsibility to deliver to its citizens”. The index is compiled using data from international and national sources, including representatives of government, business, academia, media and civil society.
For the first time, this year’s index includes data from the World Economic Forum global competitiveness report on issues including police services and the quality of education. The information includes input from business leaders, who are increasingly seen as essential to future development prospects.
The four categories are divided into 14 subsections and 94 indicators.
“This is the most accurate picture of what is going on in Africa, based on data, not personal views or political bias,” said Ibrahim, speaking at the study’s launch. “This is reality, a mirror put in front of Africa. This is not a time for African pessimism or optimism. These things are fashionable. This is the time to be realistic. We’re calling for Afro-realism.
“The picture is complex,” he added. “There are great achievements, but also challenges. We really need to focus on both of them.”
The former Irish president Mary Robinson, who is on the panel that awards the Ibrahim prize, added: “The focus of the MDGs [millennium development goals] is perhaps showing through. The weakness of those goals is they didn’t address rule of law and human rights.
“As we focus now on sustainable development goals, we need to bring in factors that address these issues. Health and education are important, but it’s worying that the very issues not improving are the ones that bring social cohesion and peace. It’s Afro-realism all right. There are real challenges there.”
Asked about the call by the African Union for the international criminal court to defer prosecution against sitting leaders, Ibrahim said the AU and the ICC need to sit down and discuss what would work best for both. He said while there can be no impunity, it was a “valid question” to ask why the only cases the ICC has brought have been against African leaders.
The Ibrahim prize for achievement in African leadership, established in 2007 and last won by President Pedro Pires of Cape Verde in 2011, was not awarded. The prize, awarded to a democratically elected former African head of state or government, provides winners with the opportunity to pursue their commitment to Africa once they have stepped down from office.
Safety & Rule of Law
Participation & Human Rights
Sustainable economic opportunity
|Central African Republic||49||50||42||44||50|
|Congo, Democratic Rep.||51||51||44||47||49|
|São Tomé & Príncipe||11||9||10||40||14|