Gaborone - A new report by the Mo Ibrahim Foundation says that Southern Africa leads all other regions in Africa when it comes to governance indices.
While the report says governance in Africa generally declined in 2019 for the first time in a decade, Southern African countries were overall the best-governed on the continent.
The Mo Ibrahim Foundation measures governance on the basis of security, rule of law, participation, rights, inclusion, human development and economic opportunities. The report said notable decline was generally registered in rule of law and security ratings.
“Of the five geographical regions, Southern Africa (53,3 out of 100) is on average the highest scoring at the overall governance level for 2019, followed by Western Africa (53,1),” the foundation said.
Central Africa was the lowest scoring region (38,8), and was also the only region with average decline in overall governance over the last decade (-0,1).
“Western Africa (+2,4) and Northern Africa (+2,3) are the two most improved regions. Libya is the only Northern African country to have declined in overall governance,” the report said. The report added that while West Africa scored highest in the security and rule of law, and the participation, rights and inclusion categories, Northern Africa performed best in foundations for economic opportunity and human development.
“All five regions have improved in foundations for economic opportunity and human development over the last ten years,” the report observed, highlighting that all countries in Eastern and Southern Africa had improved in terms of economic opportunities.
“South Africa is the only Southern African country to have declined in human development over the ten-year period. On the other hand, only Northern Africa has improved in participation, rights and inclusion, although the region has seen a decline in the last five years.
“Northern Africa and Western Africa are the only two regions to have improved in security and rule of law, but only Northern Africa has been able to sustain progress over the last five years,” the report pointed out.
Only three of 10 Southern Africa countries - Angola, Eswatini and Zimbabwe - registered improved security and rule of law; while Angola was the only one go up in terms of participation, rights and inclusion.
The Mauritius Streak
In overall governance, Southern African Development Community member state Mauritius maintained top position in Africa in 2019 for a 10th consecutive year with a score of 77,2.
Another SADC member, Seychelles (75,3), was ranked third overall in Africa; with the other states in the top five on the continent being Cabo Verde (76,6), Tunisia (71,4) and Ghana (69,7).
Somalia, on the other hand, remained bottom for the 10th year in a row with a score of 19,2. That said, Somalia’s overall governance score has gone up by 5,7 since 2010 on the back of improved infrastructure and increased gender equality, among other factors.
“Moving in the opposite direction, Mauritius’s overall governance score declines at an increasing rate, driven by weakening social protection and deteriorating human rights. South Africa, ranked 6th, has declined over the decade with an increased pace since 2015, while 5th placed Botswana has started to show warning signs,” the report says.
Zimbabwe - ranked 33rd in Africa in overall governance - featured among the five most improved countries over the last decade, with the foundation saying: “Zimbabwe is the most improved country over the decade, with an increase of +19,5 between 2010 and 2019.”
The five lowest scoring countries in 2019 were Somalia (23,1), Sudan (22,5), South Sudan (20,9), Eritrea (17,1) and Equatorial Guinea (17).
“However, the trends showcased by these countries do not tell the full story. Although the gap between the top and bottom ranked countries has been closing over the last decade, on average countries’ governance performances are more dispersed in 2019 than they were a decade ago,” the report says.
More than half the countries in Africa followed a path of increasing deterioration from 2015, the Mo Ibrahim Foundation said.
The participation, rights and inclusion category had the most number of countries (29) on negative trajectories in both ten-year and five-year assessments.
Regarding the human development and trend classification, the reports said of the top ten African countries in 2019, only Seychelles, Algeria and Egypt had been on a path of increasing improvement, with progress over the decade accelerating in the most recent five years.
“Meanwhile, Botswana, Morocco and Rwanda, though still following a positive trajectory over the decade, have seen their progress slow since 2015. More worryingly, the four remaining of the ten best performers have deteriorated over decade,” the report said.
The report acknowledged that the COVID-19 pandemic had impacted negatively on overall governance performance in more recent times, particularly as regards food insecurity, instability and democratic space.