African governance worsens for first time in a decade, survey finds

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Black map of Africa. Picture: iStock
Black map of Africa. Picture: iStock


Africa’s governance performance worsened in 2019 for the first time in nearly a decade due to a broad deterioration in the areas of human rights, security and rule of law, according to a survey published on Monday.

The Ibrahim Index of African Governance (IIAG) – the most comprehensive survey of its kind on the continent – rates 54 African nations against criteria including security, human rights, economic stability, just laws, free elections, corruption, infrastructure, poverty, health and education.

The 2019 African average score for overall governance declined by-0.2 points from 2018, registering the first year-on-year score deterioration since 2010.

In the 2020 IIAG, for example, South Africa ranks in the top 10 highest scoring countries in 2019 (6th) with a score of 65.8.

In the past 10 years, however, it the joint eighth most deteriorated country on the continent in overall governance, having declined by -0.9 in this period.


In the same way that trends should be taken into account when looking at scores and ranks, when looking at trends it is important to take into account the level of score and rank.

The Mo Ibrahim Foundation, established in 2006 by Sudanese telecoms tycoon Mo Ibrahim, compiles the data with the aim of promoting better governance and economic development in Africa.

The report said that progress achieved over the past decade was mainly driven by improvements in economic opportunities and human development.

“This is threatened, however, by an increasingly precarious security situation and concerning erosion in rights as well as civic and democratic space,” it said.

[Covid-19] has contributed to a declining democratic environment, increasing food insecurity, as well as instability and violence, including gender-based violence.
IIAG report

The survey registered what it considered worrying declines in the areas of participation, rights and inclusion, as well as security and rule of law.

Top performers according to country rankings included Mauritius, Cape Verde and Seychelles, with South Sudan, Eritrea and Equatorial Guinea rounding out the bottom.

Read | The future of African economies: High-growth and low employment

Although the report provides a comprehensive picture of the period up to just before Africa was hit by the Covid-19 coronavirus, its authors said it can also help analyse which pre-existing weaknesses may have been exacerbated by the pandemic.

While Africa has been spared infections on a scale seen in many other regions, the virus has highlighted gaps in African healthcare systems and triggered a major economic crisis, the report said.

“Furthermore, it has contributed to a declining democratic environment, increasing food insecurity, as well as instability and violence, including gender-based violence.” – Reuters


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