THE MUCH anticipated 2015 Ibrahim Index on African governance (IIAG) – the most comprehensive collection of data on African governance to date – is out. This year however the bad news seems to be outweighing the good.
The results of the 2015 IIAG, which looks at trends since 2011, reveal that though there has been a slight improvement (+0.2), overall governance progress in Africa is stalling. This is because, on the whole, improvements in participation and human rights and in human development are being outweighed by deteriorations in safety and rule of law and sustainable economic opportunity.
The African average score for overall governance is 50.1 (the data for each indicator is put on a standardised range of 0-100, where 100 is always the best possible score).*
Another worrying observation is that five countries in the top 10 are slipping in the index. Mauritius, Cape Verde, Botswana, Seychelles and Ghana are all showing declines, with Cape Verde showing the greatest change since 2011 with a 1.9 point slump.
However, although issues related to gender and education were big factors in bringing down scores of a couple of these countries, the reasons for their actual downtrends do vary – with some interesting revelations:
Mauritius remains the top ranking country in overall governance in Africa – a position it has had for 15 years. With a change of -0.7 over the last four years, Mauritius’ decline is not so dramatic but there were declines in more than one governance component.
The island nation has experienced a consistent decline in safety and rule of law, particularly related to personal safety. This was driven almost entirely by the measure of human trafficking (-50.0). This is because Mauritius is a source country for children and, to a much lesser extent, men and women subjected to sex trafficking primarily, but also to forced labour. Within accountability, Mauritius also shows a decline in access to information (-29.2) which underpins most of the deterioration in this sub-category. Meanwhile, a slight decline in rule of law (-0.4) is driven by the measure of property rights (-3.6).
Mauritius’ largest deterioration however was in the category of participation and human rights, largely due to low scores in the gender subcategory. This is driven by three of the seven underlying indicators: gender equality in the workplace (-33.3), legislation on violence against women (-16.7) and women in politics (-5.6). This is ironic since a woman took office as President this year, however, it should be noted that this index covers the time period until the end of 2014.
The index expresses great concern for Cape Verde whose governance performance over the past four years is one of the ten most deteriorated on the continent. In overall governance it is the only country within the top ten to have worsened in each one of the four underlying governance components since 2011.
The country’s biggest indicator drop since 2011 is in the safety & rule of law category, the online services subcategory, which has deteriorated by -27.2 points over the time period. In terms of participation and human rights, the most noteworthy decline was in freedom of association and assembly (-37.5). Another area which suffered a great deal is the business environment score, the result of two stark indicator-level declines, in competitive environment (-16.7) and in the soundness of banks (-24.6). In the welfare subcategory, the country’s score was dragged down by declines in the indicators on social protection and labour (-7.1), equity of public resource use (-12.5) and environmental sustainability (-18.1).
Botswana has experienced particularly widespread deterioration within the last year and the country places within the ten largest fallers of the continent over the period 2011 – 2014.
In safety and rule of law deterioration was most notable in personal safety which was affected by worrying trends in human trafficking (-25) and police services (-7.8). Participation and human rights was the category with the largest deterioration, within this gender was the subcategory that showed the greatest decline. This was due to a noticeable deterioration within the measures of women in senior public positions; women in the judiciary (-50.0) and women in politics (-11.2), as well as, to a lesser extent, in legislation on violence against women (-8.3).
A decline in the sustainable economic opportunity subcategory was driven by deteriorations in business environment (-4.7), infrastructure (-4.6) and the rural sector (-1.2). In education, one cause for concern is the education system quality indicator, which shows a deterioration of -10.2 score points since 2011, the only weakening performance of any of Botswana’s indicators within human development.
Seychelles has a slight deterioration. Three of the underlying sub-categories contribute to this deterioration: rule of law (-0.5), accountability (-2.9) and personal safety (-0.9).
Dramatic deteriorations are seen in the gender (-9.8) sub-category and in the freedom of expression (-15.2), gender equality in the workplace (13.3) and freedom of association & assembly (-25.0) indicators. The country is also experiencing a negative trend in education, specifically measures of primary school completion (-5.1) and secondary school enrolment (-4.1).
Even though Ghana scores higher than the rest of the West African regional average (52.4), the country has experienced a small decline since 2011 (-0.4), specifically due to indicators relating to safety and the rule of law – predominantly judicial process (-12.5) and national security (- 6.7) – and sustainable economic opportunity.
An indicator on the involvement of government in armed conflict (-33.3) is the one in which Ghana has exhibited its greatest decline, at indicator level, since 2011, contributing to the national security decline (-6.7). In terms of participation and human rights Ghana has experience a slight decline in participation as a result of its free and fair executive elections indicator (-16.7). It also has a weakening performance in gender due to a decline in legislation on violence against women (-16.7).
A worsening performance in rural sector (-2.1), public management (-10.0) and fiscal policy (-25.4) all contribute to the country’s decline in the sustainable economic opportunity category.
*The IIAG governance framework comprises four categories: Safety & Rule of Law, Participation & Human Rights, Sustainable Economic Opportunity and Human Development. These categories are made up of 14 sub-categories, consisting of 93 indicators. The 2015 IIAG is calculated using data from 33 independent, external data sources.