Southern Africa tops governance index

By Timo Shihepo

WINDHOEK–SOUTHERN Africa has reaffirmed its position as the best governed region in Africa, after five countries dominated the 2016 Ibrahim Index of African Governance (IIAG).

The latest governance index, launched on October 3 in the United Kingdom, is the 10th. The index, produced by the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, provides an annual assessment of the quality of governance in every African country.

Mauritius topped the list, followed by Botswana, Cape Verde, the Seychelles, Namibia and South Africa.

Cape Verde prevented the southern Africa region from making a clean sweep for the top five. Other southern African countries that also made it in the top 20 were Zambia ranked 13th; Lesotho 15th; Malawi 17th and Tanzania, 18th.

Mozambique got a ranking of 21; Swaziland 29; Madagascar 33; Zimbabwe 39; Angola 45; and the Democratic Republic of Congo 46 on a list of 54 African countries.

The report indicates that over the decade, a very slight improvement in overall governance performance has been registered on the continent.

The African average score of 50.0 (out of 100) in 2015, up one point from the score registered a decade earlier, reflects improvements by a majority of countries over the last ten years.

In total, 37 countries out of 54 have shown improvement in overall governance since 2006, representing 70 percent of African citizens.

In the top ranking group, Lesotho (15) and São Tomé & Príncipe (11) have fallen out of the top 10, and have been replaced by Rwanda (9) and Senegal (10).

However, some concerning trends appear within that group pointing to the potential fragility of these high ranking positions.

“Indeed, over the last decade, Ghana (with -2.1 score points) and South Africa (with -1.9 score points) have registered the eighth and tenth largest deteriorations on the continent.

“Botswana has also shown a marginal deterioration of -0.5 points. Of the top ten performing countries, only three countries – Namibia, Rwanda and Senegal – managed to improve across all categories of the Ibrahim Index of African Governance (IIAG),” the report said.

Of the 37 countries to have registered improvement in overall governance since 2006, nine have progressed by more than +5.0 points: Côte d’Ivoire (+13.1), Togo (+9.7), Zimbabwe (+9.7), Liberia (+8.7), Rwanda (+8.4), Ethiopia (+7.0), Niger (+5.9), Morocco (+5.7) and Kenya (+5.1).

Meanwhile, 16 countries registered a negative trend in overall governance since 2006, with three falling by more than -5.0 points: Libya (-18.0), Madagascar (-7.6) and Eritrea (-5.6). All of them have declined in Safety and Rule of Law in the past ten years, and more than half show decline in either Participation and Human Rights or Sustainable Economic Opportunity.

Founder and chair of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation (MIF) Mo Ibrahim said the slight improvement in overall governance of one single point over the decade reflects a positive trend in a majority of countries and for over two-thirds of citizens. But Africa is not a country, and governance cannot be reduced to a single dimension.

“To focus on one measure would miss the point, and this is what our Index is about. My hope is that it can continue to be a useful tool to strengthen and deepen the progress Africa has already displayed,” he said.

Dr Omu Kakujaha-Matundu of the University of Namibia (UNAM) told The Southern Times this week that he definitely agrees with the rankings and said despite its shortcomings, the rest of Africa can learn a lot from the region.

“This index looks at about 38 institutions in every country and without being biased I can confidently say that our institutions in the region are much freer and independent compared to the institutions in other region,” he observed.

“For example, the judiciaries and the legislatives in southern Africa are independent and everyone is free to take any president to court should they wish to do so.”

He said good governance was reflected in the peaceful environment prevailing in Southern Africa.

“Of course there are minor disputes in the region but they’re not endemic. I dare anyone to tell me which region in Africa is having the best environment compared to southern Africa for the media to function in. The answer is none! It’s these kinds of things that lead to good governance as every institution is allowed to function independently.”