African gov­er­nance stalls

Lesotho Times - - Africa -

LON­DON — Progress in gov­er­nance across Africa has stalled since 2011, with de­te­ri­o­rat­ing safety and lack of eco­nomic op­por­tu­nity over­shad­ow­ing any gains made on the hu­man rights front es­pe­cially in re­source-rich na­tions, a sur­vey said on Mon­day.

The Ibrahim In­dex of African Gov­er­nance (IIAG) — the most com­pre­hen­sive sur­vey of its kind on the con­ti­nent — rates 54 African na­tions against cri­te­ria such as se­cu­rity, hu­man rights, eco­nomic sta­bil­ity, just laws, free elec­tions, cor­rup­tion, in­fras­truc­ture, poverty, health and ed­u­ca­tion.

Mau­ri­tius held onto its top spot, fol­lowed by Cape Verde, Botswana, South Africa and Namibia, but over­all the in­dex has im­proved just 0.2 ba­sis points over four years and half of the top ten ranked coun­tries have de­clined, the sur­vey found.

“This is cer­tainly a stag­na­tion,” said El­iz­a­beth Mcgrath, di­rec­tor of the IIAG, founded by Su­danese tele­coms ty­coon Mo Ibrahim as an in­de­pen­dent project to pro­mote bet­ter gov­er­nance and eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment in Africa.

She noted that the cat­e­gory of sus­tain­able eco­nomic op­por­tu­nity - re­lat­ing to gov­ern­ments’ ef­forts to pro­vide an ap­peal­ing en­vi­ron­ment for in­vest­ment, busi­ness and to­wards de­vel­op­ing a more pros­per­ous so­ci­ety — had suf­fered the big­gest de­cline over the past four years.

The de­te­ri­o­ra­tion was caused by a wors­en­ing in the busi­ness en­vi­ron­ment for four straight years, Mcgrath said, adding that sound­ness of banks had shown a dou­ble-digit de­cline.

Much of Africa de­pends on the pro­duc­tion and ex­port of com­modi­ties - from oil-re­liant Nige­ria and An­gola to cop­per-rich Zam­bia or baux­ite miner Guinea. Re­cent sharp com­mod­ity price falls are ex­pected to take a heavy toll on th­ese economies.

But data used for the IIAG sur­vey ends in 2014 and would not have fully cap­tured the end of the com­modi­ties su­per-cy­cle, Mcgrath said.

“But we cer­tainly are see­ing the re­sourcerich coun­tries de­te­ri­o­rate in sus­tain­able eco­nomic op­por­tu­nity,” she said, adding that 11 of Africa’s 16 com­mod­ity ex­port­ing coun­tries had seen a wors­en­ing in that cat­e­gory.

The re­port did high­light some pos­i­tive trends, not­ing im­prove­ments in in­fras­truc­ture across the con­ti­nent, thanks to bet­ter tele­phone and IT sys­tems, as well as air trans­port.

Ivory Coast - Africa’s largest co­coa pro­ducer - tops the list of the 10 big­gest im­provers over the past four years fol­low­ing a decade of po­lit­i­cal tur­moil and civil war.

Oth­ers to move up are Zim­babwe, Sene­gal, Kenya, Togo, Morocco, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Mada­gas­car and Tu­nisia. To­gether, they rep­re­sent al­most a quar­ter of Africa’s pop­u­la­tion.

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