African Development, Economies Improve, Many Governments Doing Poorly, Index Says

According to an index on African governance released by the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, “[m]ost countries are improving their economies and their human development, yet nearly two-thirds are suffering a ‘democratic recession’ – a deterioration in human rights, physical security and the rule of law,” the Globe and Mail reports (York, 10/5). The index is “based on 88 indicators from official sources” that cover “a broad range of categories such as violent crime, corruption, labour rights, education of girls and child mortality rates,” Times LIVE writes (John, 10/4).

The Wall Street Journal’s “Corruption Currents” blog reports that “[o]verall, the governance ratings were little changed from prior years; the average score was 49. However, it masked both the improvement of some countries and the wide variance across categories, a statement said. While there was improvement in economic opportunity and human development, there were marked declines in the rule of law and of human rights.”

The foundation’s founder, Mo Ibrahim, said in a statement, “While many African citizens are becoming healthier and have greater access to economic opportunities than five years ago, many of them are less physically secure and less politically enfranchised,” the blog notes (Rubenfeld, 10/4).

The index names Liberia as the “fastest-improving” country, Mauritius as the “top” country and it also includes the continent’s “worst” countries, according to the Globe and Mail. “Of the 53 nations on the African continent, 30 have declined in their level of human rights and political participation since the previous index, while 35 have declined in the category of safety and rule of law. Some of the worst declines were in countries such as Guinea, Madagascar and Mauritania,” and the five countries at the bottom of the index are Somalia, Chad, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Zimbabwe and Eritrea (10/5).

The Wall Street Journal also quotes Ibrahim from a Guardian “Poverty Matters Blog” post: “We are all too familiar with the drastic consequences of corruption, dysfunctional legal systems, and insecure and unsafe environments. … Experience shows that when political governance and economic management diverge, overall development becomes unsustainable” (10/4).

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