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Africa: Ibrahim Governance Index

AfricaFocus Bulletin
Oct 8, 2007 (071008)
(Reposted from sources cited below)

Editor's Note

"What we're trying to say is that at the end, governance is reflected in what is delivered to people. .. We are not commenting on the policies. ...Policies should reflect in goods delivered to people. We're trying to capture it [this way] instead of going through this endless discussion about policies - what is good, what is bad - which becomes, at the end of the day, very subjective." - Mo Ibrahim

With the release of his foundation's Index of African Governance, African mobile phone entrepreneur Mo Ibrahim is hoping to advance the discussion about how African leaders deliver the results their people want. The Sudan-born founder of Celtel has also resigned from his position of chair of the Celtel board after building the company into a multi-billion-dollar enterprise and leading telecommunications operator with 21 million customers in 14 African countries. He now plans to devote most of his time and energies to the foundation, which focuses on African governance.

This AfricaFocus Bulletin contains excerpts from the report on the index, including rankings for 48 sub-Saharan African countries, as well as an interview with Mo Ibrahim. Ibrahim contrasts this index with others as a measure of results delivered rather than opinions about policy, and calls for corrections to both data and methodology to be submitted via the foundation website, which is available in French, Portuguese, KiSwahili, and Arabic as well as English. See

Another AfricaFocus Bulletin sent out today reports on latest developments in the fast-moving African information and communications industries in which Mo Ibrahim made his fortune.

For previous AfricaFocus Bulletins on developments in information and communication technology in Africa, and a custom search of Balancing Act Africa and other key sites, see .

"No Easy Victories: African Liberation and American Activists over a Half Century, 1950-2000" is now shipping, and still available for ordering on-line at a 20% discount until the end of October. The book will also be on sale at the African Studies Association 50th anniversary meeting in New York City, October 18-21.

The editors, along with Africa World Press, the Association of Concerned Africa Scholars, and AfricaFocus Bulletin invite New York activists, attendees at the African Studies Association, and others who are interested to join them for a celebration of the book's release on October 20, 2007.

For more information:

++++++++++++++++++++++end editor's note+++++++++++++++++++++++

Ibrahim Index of African Governance

September 25, 2007

"We are shining a light on governance in Africa, and in so doing we are making a unique contribution to improving the quality of governance. The Ibrahim Index is a tool to hold governments to account and frame the debate about how we are governed. Africans are setting benchmarks not only for their own continent, but for the world. " Mo Ibrahim

The Ibrahim Index of African Governance has been created in recognition of the need for a more objective and quantifiable method of measuring governance in the 48 countries of sub-Saharan Africa. The Ibrahim Index provides both a new definition of governance, as well as a comprehensive set of governance measures. Based on five categories of essential political goods, each country is assessed against 58 individual measures, capturing clear, objective outcomes.

  • Safety and Security
  • Rule of Law, Transparency and Corruption
  • Participation and Human Rights
  • Sustainable Economic Development
  • Human Development

Key features of the Ibrahim Index include:

Comprehensiveness - the large number of measures included in the Ibrahim Index makes it one of the most comprehensive assessments of the governance in sub-Saharan African ever undertaken.

Focus on political goods - the Ibrahim Index uniquely defines governance as the delivery of key political goods, capturing defined, measurable outcomes rather than subjective assessments.

Geographical coverage - the Ibrahim Index examines all 48 countries of sub-Saharan Africa for three years (and hereafter annually), making it among the most complete and up-to-date indexes ever compiled.

Ranking - The Ibrahim Index is the first such attempt to explicitly rank sub-Saharan African countries according to governance quality.

Progressiveness - the Ibrahim Index will be expanded and refined on an annual basis, offering a continually improving assessment of governance.

On this website you can explore the full data set for the 2007 Ibrahim Index (using a dataset from the year 2005) and retrospective data sets for 2002 and 2000. You will also find a number of papers on benchmarking governance.

The Ibrahim Index is a project of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation and has been developed under the direction of Robert I. Rotberg and Rachel Gisselquist of the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

A Summary of the Rankings

Top Performers

A select handful of countries consistently rank at the top of the Index of African Governance. Listed in order of their ranking in the 2007 Index (using 2005 data), these are Mauritius, the Seychelles, Botswana, Cape Verde, and South Africa. Completing the 2007 top ten are Gabon, Namibia, Ghana, Senegal, and Sao Tom and Principe.

These top ten also do well in 2002 and 2000, although their positions relative to each other shift slightly year to year. ...

Worst Performers

The Index also shows that a set of countries have consistently been governed poorly relative to the rest of the continent. Those occupying the bottom five positions in 2005 (from worst to slightly less worse) are Somalia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Chad, Sudan, and Guinea-Bissau. These countries are followed in 2005 by Liberia, Angola, the Central African Republic, Burundi, and Sierra Leone. Several of these worst performing countries highlight the long-running effects of conflict, suggesting the difficulties of rapidly improving political goods performance even with improved governmental institutions.

Positioning at the bottom, like positioning at the top, is also relatively stable, although less so. Somalia, at the bottom in all three years, is the exception.Similarly, the DRC comes in at #46 or 47 (second or third from the bottom) in all years. The Sudan is at #45 in all three years. The following countries also fall into the bottom ten in all three years: Angola, Burundi, Chad, and Liberia.

Largest Changes in Performance

Improvements in performance by countries can be assessed in the Index of African Governance by looking at the changes in country scores from year to year. The countries that have shown the greatest improvements from 2000 to 2005 are Angola, Rwanda, Eritrea, Burundi, and Sierra Leone. Angola's score improved by 12.3 points from 2000 to 2005.

The country that has shown the largest decline in government performance as measured by the Index between 2000 and 2005 is Guinea-Bissau. Its score declined by 9.4 points Other countries that have shown declining performance between 2000 and 2005 include Namibia, Cote d'Ivoire, the Central African Republic, Benin, and Madagascar.

Ranking and Score in Alphabetical Order

Country             Ranking   Overall Score       

Angola              42            44.3
Benin               13            61.2
Botswana             3            73.0
Burkina Faso        21            56.7
Burundi             40            46.8
Cameroon            24            55.6
Cape Verde           4            72.9
Central Afr. Rep.   41            46.7
Chad                46            38.8
Comoros             26            53.8
Congo               30            52.1
Cote d'Ivoire       36            48.8
D. R. of Congo      47            38.6
Djibouti            29            52.5
Equatorial Guinea   32            51.6
Eritrea             38            48.3
Ethiopia            27            53.2
Gabon                6            67.4
Gambia              22            55.8
Ghana                8            66.8
Guinea              33            51.5
Guinea-Bissau       44            42.7
Kenya               15            59.3
Lesotho             11            64.1
Liberia             43            42.7
Madagascar          17            57.7
Malawi              12            63.7
Mali                20            56.9
Mauritania          16            58.8
Mauritius            1            86.2
Mozambique          23            55.8
Namibia              7            67.0
Niger               28            53.1
Nigeria             37            48.3
Rwanda              18            57.5
Sao Tome & Principe 10            65.3
Senegal              9            66.0
Seychelles           2            83.1
Sierra Leone        39            48.3
Somalia             48            28.1
South Africa         5            71.1
Sudan               45            40.0
Swaziland           34            50.9
Tanzania            14            60.7
Togo                35            49.8
Uganda              25            55.4
Zambia              19            57.5
Zimbabwe            31            52.0

New Governance Index Is 'An African Effort' for Development


25 September 2007

By Katy Gabel

The "Ibrahim Index of African Governance" announced in London and Cape Town on Tuesday is a project of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, which was established as part of the vision of leading African businessman Mo Ibrahim. He spoke to Katy Gabel of

How was the index prepared? What sort of people were on the research teams, and how did Africans participate?

The index was prepared totally independently by the Kennedy School of Government. We gave the project to what we saw as the foremost academic institution working in the area of governance. It was led by Professor Robert Rotberg and his researchers ...

We also had a supervisory - an advisory - committee comprised of about twelve [people] - mainly academics - from Africa to advise the Kennedy School of Government. We had people from Kenya, from Zambia, from Malawi, from Sudan, from South Africa, etc., really acknowledged, good people to help with the direction of the project. We have the cooperation of many institutions - we had NGOs, think tanks, who were kind enough and supportive enough, because there was no point in re-inventing the wheel here. We are very grateful to the United Nations, to the World Bank, the IMF, the WHO, Unicef, Transparency International, Freedom House - for all the organizations which collect a certain amount of data and give it to us.

So we're able to collect data and we're able to really construct - when I say we, I mean the academics at Harvard - a comprehensive set of data and verify and fill in the gaps. They [the team of academics] sent some people to some capitals to fill in gaps. They communicated with government statistical offices - it was really a measured effort to try to get the most accurate set of data possible for Africa.

Why is this index important?

The value of the index will be more and more apparent as we go and build the databases year after year. For example, this year we'll be using 2002 through 2005. In coming years, you will be able to trace countries as they move up or as they fall. What matters, really, is not where you are on the table, but where you are going.

If you are the leader of a country at the bottom of the table, and in five years you move up on the table, then you have done something great. Your course is much better than someone who started at number four and ended up at four again, or five. Nothing happened there.

Are you confident that these rankings reflect how effective governance is?

It must be. Because me, as a person - I have no opinion about who is better or worse. I am not a politician. I am not in politics. I'm just a citizen. It is interesting for me to know who is doing better than the others.

... We all have our perceptions. I go to visit a country, I end up in a five-star hotel in a nice city and I'm driven there and taken back and I say, "Wow, this is a wonderful country, it's safe." But I've been looked after. Is the country really safe? How do we get the facts away from perception?

As such, what comes, comes. What we need to make sure is that all the numbers are correct. We're inviting every government and every institution in Africa to please, if they disagree with any number, please correct us. Please meet with our people. We're going to pay attention and we will verify. Each number here is clearly defined - where it came from, how to source each sub-category [of data]. If anybody disagrees with a number, please come forward and we will have a discussion. We will have a discussion with the academics, and we will facilitate that to make sure that mistakes, if any, will be corrected, because we have no interest in publishing a wrong number. Not only numbers, even methodology. We have 58 sub-categories - maybe some people will suggest we should have more.

Some of the results are surprising ...

What is happening here is that there are so many components to this [and] the different components can measure differently ... For example, if safety and security of individuals is [measured], it is quite possible that in Zimbabwe you have a better safety score than in Nigeria - I'm just thinking [of possible reasons]. I can look here at the table and see that Nigeria is scoring with 62 in security and Zimbabwe with 75. Sometimes in dictatorships you have high security and street safety, for example. People might be very safe, in that sense - petty crimes and violence, I mean. So it depends what areas you're measuring on.

I think that what really matters here is ... where people are moving. If you look at 2002 and 2005, you can see the rises and falls [in overall ranking]. I'm sure Zimbabwe has been falling there like a stone. Don't forget that Zimbabwe was quite a developed country, with good, developed networks and it had telecommunications - it had cellular way before Nigeria had it. There are certain things there which were happening, but then there was a steep fall over time. Also, don't forget this is data for 2005. When we have the data for 2006 and 2007 I think you will see more changes.

Are all sub-categories given equal weight?

As far as I know, all the data in the categories and sub-categories was weighted equally except in the area of security where some data was more reliable than other data and [the team] weighted one or two sub-categories. But in all other areas everything was weighted equally. That was my understanding.

Does this index account for the unequal status of some countries - for example, a country which has been through a war, or one which has been the beneficiary of preferential trade agreements?

No - we are trying to stay away from political relationships or judgments. What we're trying to say is that at the end, governance is reflected in what is delivered to people. If you have a good trade agreement, for example, hopefully that will reduce prices and help exports, etc. and [so] that will be captured by other measurements.

We are not commenting on the policies. We are trying to take a snapshot of what's happening [between] certain years for everybody. We're measuring things - telecommunications, water, electricity - how many people have [access to] these things. It all comes under sustainable economic development.

Policies should reflect in goods delivered to people. We're trying to capture it [this way] instead of going through this endless discussion about policies - what is good, what is bad - which becomes, at the end of the day, very subjective.

Given that this year's data only spans the past five years, to what extent do you expect the index to inform that decision of the committee which will select the forthcoming "Mo Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership"?

That is a very good question. It will give [them] some ideas, but some of the leaders they are considering might have started way before that. This is unavoidable because we cannot go back in history and reinvent data. That data doesn't exist it's not available.

What I expect is that the Prize Committee - which I'm not a member of, by the way, but is comprised of a number of very wise and experienced people [will be] able to use their judgment to augment what information they can glean from this paper and select the winner.

[Soon] the job will be easier, because you're going to have more and more data on the past and you'll be able to trace changes. You really need to see the index as a project in progress. The true value of this complete index will become very apparent before maybe five or seven years, when we can look back and see the development of data.

How can this index help international organizations, regional organizations, and even civil society groups?

It's really a genuine piece of work which people should pay attention to because it will help. If people study this information, it will help. It will help both governments and civil society. It is not meant as a means to shame or to point a finger because we have no interest in doing that. It's just an objective way to say, "Guys, here is a snapshot of what's happening in all its detail. Have a look and see what we can do with this."

Do you hope that the index will replace other measurements currently used by aid agencies and donor countries?

We are not really doing this for Western governments or donors. We exist for Africans. This is an African effort. Our foundation is an African foundation. What we really care about is African civil society and African governance.

We hope that what we have here is the basis of an objective and rational dialogue so that [all parties] can have a meaningful dialogue. People can ask, "Why are we moving up here?" or "Why are we moving down here?" "That country next door managed to improve health. Let's see what they have done and we can learn from them." It could be a nice tool. That's really what we'd like to have happen that the African people themselves use this data to see how they can move forward.

AfricaFocus Bulletin is an independent electronic publication providing reposted commentary and analysis on African issues, with a particular focus on U.S. and international policies. AfricaFocus Bulletin is edited by William Minter.

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