SUNDAY TIMES - Safety and rule of law is deteriorating: Mo Ibrahim Foundation
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Sunday Times Best of International By Tmg Digital, 2016-10-03 14:43:42.0

Safety and rule of law is deteriorating: Mo Ibrahim Foundation

A supporter of Gabonese opposition leader Jean Ping prays in front of security forces blocking a demonstration trying to reach the electoral commission in Libreville on August 31, 2016 as another protestor lays on the ground in distress. File photo
Image: MARCO LONGARI AFP

Almost two-thirds of African citizens live in a country in which safety and rule of law deteriorated in the last ten years.

This is according to the 2016 Ibrahim Index of African Governance (IIAG)‚ launched on Monday by the Mo Ibrahim Foundation.

Over the last decade‚ overall governance has improved by one score point at the continental average level‚ with 37 countries – home to 70% of African citizens – registering progress.

This overall positive trend has been led mainly by improvement in Human Development and Participation & Human Rights. Sustainable Economic Opportunity also registered an improvement‚ but at a slower pace.

"However‚ these positive trends stand in contrast to a pronounced and concerning drop in Safety & Rule of Law‚ for which 33 out of the 54 African countries – home to almost two-thirds of the continent’s population – have experienced a decline since 2006‚ 15 of them quite substantially‚" the index states.

"This worrying trend has worsened recently‚ with almost half of the countries on the continent recording their worst score ever in this category within the last three years. This is driven by large deteriorations in the subcategories of Personal Safety and National Security."

Notably‚ Accountability is now the lowest scoring subcategory of the whole Index.

Without exception‚ all countries that have deteriorated at the Overall Governance level have also deteriorated in Safety & Rule of Law.

At the Overall Governance level‚ the three highest scoring countries in 2015 are Mauritius‚ Botswana and Cabo Verde‚ and the three most improved over the decade are Côte d’Ivoire‚ Togo and Zimbabwe.

While South Africa and Ghana featured in the top ten performing countries in Overall Governance in 2015‚ they are also the eighth and tenth most deteriorated over the decade.

The index also noted that an improvement in the Participation & Human Rights category‚ found in 37 countries across the continent‚ has been driven by progress in Gender and in Participation. However‚ a marginal deterioration appears in the subcategory Rights‚ "with some worrying trends in indicators relating to the civil society space".

Sustainable Economic Opportunity is the index’s lowest scoring and slowest improving category. However‚ 38 countries – together accounting for 73% of continental GDP – have recorded an improvement over the last decade.

The largest progress has been achieved in the sub-category Infrastructure‚ driven by a massive improvement in the indicator Digital & IT Infrastructure‚ the most improved of all 95 indicators. However‚ the average score for Infrastructure still remains low‚ with the indicator Electricity Infrastructure registering a particularly worrying decline in 19 countries‚ home to 40% of Africa’s population.

Human Development is the best performing category over the last decade‚ with 43 countries - home to 87% of African citizens – registering progress. All dimensions – Education‚ Health and Welfare – have improved.

Mo Ibrahim‚ Chair of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation‚ said: “The improvement in overall governance in Africa over the last decade reflects a positive trend in a majority of countries and for over two-thirds of the continent’s citizens. No success‚ no progress can be sustained without constant commitment and effort. As our Index reveals‚ the decline in safety and rule of law is the biggest issue facing the continent today. Sound governance and wise leadership are fundamental to tackling this challenge‚ sustaining recent progress and ensuring that Africa’s future is bright.”

Key findings of the 2016 IIAG include:

- Over the past decade‚ the continental average score in Overall Governance has improved by one point.

- Safety & Rule of Law is the only category of the Index to register a negative trend over the decade‚ falling by -2.8 score points in the past ten years.

- Accountability is the lowest scoring (35.1) of the 14 sub-categories in 2015.

- The continental average score for the Corruption & Bureaucracy indicator has declined by -8.7 points over the last decade‚ with 33 countries registering deterioration‚ 24 of them falling to their worst ever score in 2015.

- Two-thirds of the countries on the continent‚ representing 67% of the African population‚ have shown deterioration in Freedom of Expression over the past ten years. Eleven countries‚ covering over a quarter (27%) of the continent’s population‚ have declined across all three civil society measures – Civil Society Participation‚ Freedom of Expression and Freedom of Association & Assembly – over the decade.

The Poverty Reduction Priorities indicator has registered an average decline of -1.3 points‚ with 23 countries‚ hosting 45% of Africa’s population‚ declining.

The good news:

- Since 2006‚ 37 countries‚ hosting 70% of African citizens‚ have improved in Overall Governance.

- In 2015 more than two-thirds of African citizens (70%) live in countries where Sustainable Economic Opportunity has improved in the last ten years.

- Digital & IT Infrastructure is the most improved indicator (out of 95) of the IIAG over the decade.

- Niger‚ Rwanda‚ Côte d’Ivoire‚ Togo and Kenya have progressed by more than +10.0 points in Business Environment over the decade.

- 43 countries‚ hosting more than four-fifths (87%) of the African population‚ have registered improvement in Human Development over the decade. Rwanda‚ Ethiopia‚ Angola‚ and Togo have increased by more than +10.0 points in Human Development over the decade.

- All 54 countries have registered progress in Child Mortality over the decade.

- Over the last ten years‚ the Poverty indicator has registered improvement (+7.2 points)‚ with 29 countries‚ accounting for 67% of Africa’s population and 76% of Africa’s GDP‚ improving.

The Mo Ibrahim Foundation was established in 2006 with a focus on the critical importance of leadership and governance in Africa‚ by providing tools to assess and support progress in leadership and governance.

The tenth edition of the index brings together a decade of data to assess each of Africa’s 54 countries against 95 indicators drawn from 34 independent sources.

This year‚ for the first time‚ the IIAG includes Public Attitude Survey data from Afrobarometer‚ which captures Africans’ own perceptions of governance‚ which provide fresh perspective on the results registered by other data such expert assessment and official data.