The Mo Ibrahim Foundation index measures published on Monday has ranked Botswana third on the continent in terms of good governance.
The 2010 index, based on 88 indicators drawn from official sources, was largely unchanged overall from 2009 as economic and health gains were cancelled out by declines in political rights, personal safety and the rule of law.
Mauritius, Seychelles, Botswana, Cape Verde and South Africa led the overall governance ranking while Somalia, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Zimbabwe, Eritrea and Sudan are at the bottom.
The Mo Ibrahim Foundation warned there was a risk that citizens’ rights were being neglected as Africa made economic strides.
“We must ensure that the political side of governance in Africa is not neglected. We have seen from evidence and experience across the world that discrepancies between political governance and economic management are unsustainable in the long term. If Africa is going to continue to make progress we need to pay attention to the rights and safety of citizens,” Foundation board member, Salim Ahmed Salim, said in a statement.
Angola, Liberia and Togo each made marked improvements in their overall scores, while Eritrea and Madagascar saw declines.
The indicators cover a broad range of categories such as violent crime, corruption, labour rights, girls’ education, inflation and child mortality rates.
The mixed picture appears to reflect a continent where industry sectors such as portable telephony are booming and investors are jostling over access to raw materials even as violent conflicts deepen and democratic rights are abused.
The Foundation has chosen for the past two years not to award its African leadership prize, aimed at former heads of state deemed to have fully dedicated their term in office to helping their people.
Former President Festus Mogae is a recipient of the prize.
The Ibrahim Index is Africa’s leading assessment of governance, established to inform and empower the continent’s citizens and to support governments, parliaments and civil society to assess progress.
The 2010 Ibrahim Index shows both areas of progress and setbacks in governance between 2004/05 and 2008/09. The foundation says while overall governance quality remains largely unchanged from previous years, with a continental average score of 49, the average masks large variation in performance across countries.
It notes that Angola, Liberia, and Togo have all seen significant improvements in governance performance scores. Furthermore, the Foundation says there are large differences in trends across the various categories of the Index.
“In both Sustainable Economic Opportunity and Human Development there have been improvements in many African countries. Importantly, no country has declined significantly in these categories. In Sustainable Economic Opportunity, 41 African states improved; ten of these were significant,” it says.
There is an observation that in human development, 44 of Africa’s 53 countries progressed driven by improvements in most countries in the Health and Welfare sub-category.
Safety and Rule of Law and Participation and Human Rights, however, blight the progress according to the foundation where 35 African states have declined in Safety and Rule of Law.
In Participation and Human Rights, although the results were more mixed, almost two-thirds of African countries declined in the Participation and Rights sub-categories. Analysis of the performance of countries in the Gender sub-category shows some progress.
Salim Ahmed Salim, Board Member of the Foundation and former Secretary-General of the Organisation of African Unity, said in a statement: “We must ensure that the political side of governance in Africa is not neglected. We have seen from evidence and experience across the world that discrepancies between political governance and economic management are unsustainable in the long term. If Africa is going to continue to make progress we need to pay attention to the rights and safety of citizens.”
The Ibrahim Index of African Governance was created in recognition of the need for a robust, comprehensive and quantifiable tool for citizens and governments to track governance performance in Africa.
The 2010 version includes an additional indicator assessing governments’ statistical capacity, providing insight into governments’ commitment to outcomes-driven policy-making and evaluation. New indicators have also been included to assess gender issues, provision of antiretroviral treatment and access to water and sanitation.
The foundation says the paucity of data about Africa continues to be a challenge for the compilation of the Index. It says official data for many key indicators of governance, for example, income poverty, maternal mortality, and physical infrastructure are patchy or out-of-date.