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Governance in Africa stagnated since 2019- Mo Ibrahim Foundation

The 2022 Ibrahim Index of African Governance (IIAG) launched on Wednesday, January 25, 2023 by the Mo Ibrahim Foundation says governance in Africa has stagnated since 2019 due to COVID-19, insecurity, and widespread democratic backsliding, among others.

Mo Ibrahim, founder, and chair of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, described the development as posing a serious threat to several years of progress on the continent.

“Unless we quickly address this trend, the years of progress we have witnessed could be lost, and Africa unable to reach in due time the UN Sustainable Development Goals or the African Union’s Agenda 2063.

“Our continent is uniquely exposed to the converging impacts of climate change, more recently COVID-19, and now the indirect impact of the Russia-Ukraine war.

“Governments must address the ongoing lack of prospects for our growing youth, worsening food insecurity, lack of access to energy for almost half the continent’s population, heavier debt burden, and growing domestic unrest. Coups are back, and democratic backsliding is spreading.

These are challenging times. More than ever, commitment to strengthening governance must be renewed before we lose all progress achieved,” Ibrahim said.

He added that the 2022 Ibrahim Index of African Governance which highlights a stagnation of African governance since 2019 should be a cause of concern for us all.

“Now, more than ever, governments must focus on promoting strong institutions and good leadership; for this will be critical to not only navigate these crises but the challenges that lie ahead.

“Now is the time to strengthen our commitment to good governance. Failure to do so and we may lose much of what we have fought so hard to achieve.”

The 2022 IIAG results show that even though the average continental level of overall governance is better in 2021 than in 2012 (+1.1), progress has flatlined since 2019.

Mauritius with a -2.2 ranking tops the list of the five highest countries in terms of governance. Followed by Seychelles with a +9.3 ranking, Tunisia is third with +3.1, Cape Verde with -1.2, and Botswana with +0.8 was ranked fourth and fifth respectively.

Driving this stagnation, he said, is the deterioration of both the security and rule of law and participation, rights, and inclusion index categories, due to an increase in armed conflicts, violence against civilians, and democratic backsliding across growing parts of the continent.

Although the IIAG confirmed that these trends predate the pandemic, it highlighted that the introduction of restrictive measures and emergency provisions to address COVID-19 and its fallout have exacerbated existing challenges by accelerating a decline in democratic practices, clamping down on dissent, shrinking the civic space, and avoiding democratic scrutiny.

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The IIAG’s other two categories of human development and foundations for economic opportunity do offer cause for cautious optimism, as both have progressed over 2012-2021.

This is particularly the case for human development which has improved year-on-year across the decade, with more than 90 percent of Africa’s population living in a country where progress has been made since 2012.

The 2022 IIAG report also provides insights into key remaining data gaps on governance priorities in Africa, such as employment, health, rural areas, and climate challenges. For example, the health sub-category is still unable to include data on health structures and capacities – a critical element of the continent’s response to any pandemic- due to a lack of data.

Data is essential for effective policymaking and strengthening data production and uptake in Africa remains a priority of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, it said.

Besides, the 2022 IIAG shows that governance progress is being hindered by diverging trajectories, as progress in human development and foundations for economic opportunity is offset by a deterioration in both security and rule of law and participation, rights, and inclusion, holding back overall governance.

The Mo Ibrahim Foundation defines governance as the provision of political, social, economic, and environmental public goods and services that every citizen has the right to expect from their government, and that a government has the responsibility to deliver to its citizens.

Since 2007, the IIAG constitutes the most comprehensive data set measuring African governance.