Ibrahim Index reveals African governance continues to stall

4 Oct 16

Governance in Africa has barely improved in the last decade as worrying declines in safety and the rule of law hold back progress, according to the authoritative Ibrahim Index of African Governance.


In the last 10 years, the annual index has become renowned for providing the most comprehensive analysis of African governance available. But in that time, the measure has only been able to register an improvement of one point for the continent, from a score of 49 to 50 out of 100.

“It’s not a fantastic improvement, but it is an improvement,” said Mo Ibrahim, a Sudanese telecoms businessman and founder and chair of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, which produces the index.

“So good news, but not fantastic news,” he added, warning about the stagnating progress across many countries especially in the past few years.

Some nations on the other hand, including Côte d’Ivoire, Togo, Liberia and Rwanda, have made substantial progress since the index began measuring in 2006.

And altogether, 37 out of 54 African countries have seen some overall improvement when marked against index’s four main categories – safety and rule of law, participation and human rights, sustainable economic opportunity, and human development.

But even some of the best performers have deteriorated since 2006. Ghana and South Africa for example, which both sit in the index’s top 10, have also seen the eighth and tenth biggest declines.

In terms of the four main categories, safety and the rule of law is the only one to show a downward trend over the past decade. Continent-wide, it has fallen by 2.8 points since 2006.

Because all countries that had deteriorated in overall governance had also deteriorated in this category, without exception, the index said deteriorating safety and rule of law is likely holding back governance progress in general.

Out of the 54 nations, 33, or almost two thirds, have seen a decline in safety and the rule of law, which means factors like weak accountability, armed conflict, violence and unrest, and corruption and bureaucracy have intensified for 70% of African citizens in the past 10 years.

Even most of the continent’s top scorers for overall governance saw progress drop in this area, such as Ghana, Cabo Verde, Botswana and Mauritius.

The fifteen countries that saw the biggest declines in this area however typically sit at the bottom of the index, and include Somalia, Burundi, the Central African Republic and Libya, where a civil war, tussles between two opposing governments and the rise of ISIS have decimated security and governance.

With dramatic declines in nations plagued and civil unrest – Libya’s score has fallen by 18 points – Ibrahim stressed the need to be sensitive to nuances in the data.

Rwanda, for example, featured in the top ten for the first time this year. In the past two decades, the nation has overcome a dark history to become the index’s ninth best performer, and the only one to feature in both the ten highest scoring and ten most improved countries over the past decade.

Others in the top ten include Mauritius, Botswana, Cabo Verde, Seychelles, Namibia, South Africa, Tunisia and Senegal, many of which have been regulars at the top of the index for much of its 10 year history.

Similarly, there is not much movement in the bottom ten either, with nations like Somalia, South Sudan, Central African Republic, Eritrea, Sudan and Chad regular low scorers.

“What you see here are 54 stories, not one story,” said Ibrahim, at the report’s launch yesterday.

“Each country has its own story. Please don’t be lazy and use a brush, and say Africa is rising, Africa is a basket case. We need more nuance in the way we describe Africa.”


Top 10

1. Mauritius

2. Botswanna

3. Cabo Verde

4. Seychelles

5. Namibia 

6. South Africa

7. Tunisia

8. Ghana

9. Rwanda

10. Senegal


Bottom 10

44. Guinea Bissau

45. Angola

46. Democratic Republic of Congo

47. Equatorial Guinea

48. Chad

49. Sudan

50. Eritrea

51. Libya

52. Central African Republic

53. South Sudan

54. Somalia

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