News / Africa

African Governance Improving, Index Finds

FILE - A tour guide stands with a group of tourists at a viewpoint overlooking Port Louis on June 6, 2008. Mauritius took the top spot once again in annual index.
FILE - A tour guide stands with a group of tourists at a viewpoint overlooking Port Louis on June 6, 2008. Mauritius took the top spot once again in annual index.
Anita Powell
— Sudanese magnate Mo Ibrahim announced his seventh annual African Governance Index Monday, saying there are both positive and negative trends to watch.

Although this year’s ranking looks similar to last year’s, Ibrahim says progress is being made slowly on his home continent but there are worrying trends to note.

On the up side, 18 of the 52 nations surveyed earned their best scores ever. For 94 percent of Africans, governance has notably improved since 2000, when data started being collected and analyzed, the report says.

Tiny Mauritius again nabbed the top spot for the best governing in Africa, having the highest score for personal safety, economic opportunity and development.

On the downside, the criteria of safety and the rule of law have declined, signaling a worrying shift toward domestic social unrest. This is particularly true in the bottom six countries which included Zimbabwe, Chad, the Central African Republic, Eritrea, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Somalia.

And, despite having a legitimate government for the first time in decades, violent Somalia again scored worst in the class in all four of the foundation’s criteria for good governance: safety and rule of law, participation and human rights, sustainable economic opportunity and human development.

For the second year in a row, the board did not award a highly coveted $5 million African governance prize to a former head of state. There was no winner. Speaking at his London headquarters, the telecom magnate said a new development in international justice could also pose challenges in the future.

On Saturday, the chairman of the African Union said that the continental body would not allow a sitting head of state to be prosecuted by the International Criminal Court. Two sitting African leaders are on the court’s docket: Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir and Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, whose trial is set to begin next month over his alleged role in promoting ethnic violence after a contested 2007 election.

Ibrahim shares some of the criticism of the International Criminal Court, such as allegations that the court is excessively focused on Africa.  But he added the continent needs a reputable institution to try atrocities.

“Africa does not corner the market in atrocities. There are atrocities everywhere," he said. "Why the ICC is not showing the same energy in prosecuting atrocities elsewhere other than Africa, that is a valid question. At the same time, we need really to ensure that, in Africa, there is no impunity. And we have also our share of genocide, massacres, etcetera. And the people who committed these crimes need to be tried. Unfortunately, Africa hasn’t got an African court of justice. And that is needed, and if there’s no African court of justice, then ICC at least can fulfill some role which African countries cannot do."

The ranking doesn’t include Ibrahim’s nation of Sudan, or South Sudan, which gained independence in 2011. The foundation says it doesn't have comprehensive data on either nation.

The governance award, created by the Sudanese-born Ibrahim in 2007, can go to former African leaders who have left office in the last three years.

In addition to showing exceptional leadership, the award stipulates that the winner be democratically elected and that he or she leave office voluntarily after serving only a constitutionally mandated term.

Former winners include former South African president Nelson Mandela, Joaquim Chissano of Mozambique, Festus Mogae of Botswana and Pedro Pires of Cape Verde.

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