Governance Lags Needs, Expectations of Africans, Study Finds

Governance Lags Needs, Expectations of Africans, Study Finds

Progress in African governance is lagging both the needs and expectations of a growing population, an annual index from the Mo Ibrahim Foundation finds.

Originally established in 2007 by the Mo Ibrahim Foundation in partnership with the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, the Ibrahim Index of African Governance provides an annual statistical assessment of the quality of governance in the fifty-four countries on the African continent. According to the 2018 index (144 pages, PDF), the continent has failed to generate adequate economic opportunities for its youth population, which has grown 26 percent over the last ten years, raising the share of the continent's population under the age of 25 to 60 percent. The index also shows that the average country score for sustainable economic opportunity since 2008 has increased just 0.1 point, or 0.2 percent, despite a continental increase in GDP of nearly 40 percent over the same period.

The growing divergence in overall governance performance among the countries included in the index is driven primarily by fifteen countries that have managed to accelerate their pace of improvement over the last five years, with progress most striking in Côte d'Ivoire, Morocco, and Kenya. Divergence also is reflected in sustainable economic opportunity trends, with twenty-seven countries on the continent showing some improvement over the last ten years, while twenty-five countries, accounting for 43.2 percent of the continent's population, experienced declines.

The index also found no strong correlation between the size of a country's economy and its performance in sustainable economic opportunity. In 2017, for example, four of the ten countries with the highest GDP on the continent — Algeria, Angola, Nigeria, and Sudan — scored below the average score for sustainable economic opportunity and fell into the bottom half of the rankings, while two of the smallest economies, the Seychelles and Cabo Verde, recorded the fifth- and sixth-highest scores in terms of providing sustainable economic opportunity for their citizens.

"We welcome progress in overall governance, but the lost opportunity of the past decade is deeply concerning. Africa has a huge challenge ahead," said Mo Ibrahim, the Sudanese-born philanthropist who signed the Giving Pledge in 2013. "Its large and youthful potential workforce could transform the continent for the better, but this opportunity is close to being squandered. The evidence is clear — young citizens of Africa need hope, prospects, and opportunities. Its leaders need to speed up job creation to sustain progress and stave off deterioration. The time to act is now."