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Africa Good Governance Survey Explained

Africa is rich in resources, but without good governance, those resources cannot be effectively administered to the continent’s poor, democracy cannot flourish, and international investors would not invest in Africa. Those are the comments of Sudanese-born billionaire businessman Mo Ibrahim, who this week released a new survey on Sub-Saharan Africa’s best and worst governed countries.

According to the survey, Mauritius is the best-governed country and Somalia is the worst governed country. Seychelles, Botswana, Cape Verde and South Africa are also in the top five best-governed countries. The bottom five also includes the Democratic Republic of Congo, Chad, Sudan and Guinea-Bissau.

Robert Rotberg is professor of public policy at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. He conceived and directed the Index of African Governance project. Professor Rotberg explained to VOA how the survey was conducted.

“What we did was use 58 indicators of governance, and we ran the numbers for each of the 48 Sub-Saharan African countries according to five categories of analysis. The first category, safety and security, the second category, rule of law, third category, participation and human rights, fourth category sustainable economic opportunities, and the fifth category, human development. Our premise here is that good governance is the delivery of essential political goods to the people,” he said.

The survey ranked Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, 37th while Uganda is ranked 25th. Professor Rotberg said several issues affected Nigeria’s low ranking.

“It is quite clear in Nigeria’s case that you lose massive points for conflict, and Nigeria, as everyone knows has been under turmoil and conflict. Secondly, Nigeria, according to Transparency International, is one of the most corrupt places on the planet, and corruption loses you many points. Now Uganda is clearly doing less well than it would like to do, but it is doing better than Nigeria because there is a higher level of human development,” he said.

Rotberg defended the survey’s method of comparing countries with smaller economies and populations with those with larger populations and economies.

“Whether it’s fair or not, those are the African countries that we have to work with. It’s true that some of the smaller countries performed better, but South Africa is number five and some of the other larger countries are reasonably well placed. Liberia is down towards the bottom of the list, but Liberia over the next four or five years under its new Kennedy School president could in fact improve rather rapidly and go from the 40s where it is now to the 30s which could be a major achievement,” Rotberg said.

Next month, the $5 million Mo Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership will be awarded for the first time to a former Sub-Saharan African head of state who has done the most for his or her people. Former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has reportedly been leading the search committee.

Rotberg said the criteria for the Mo Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership goes beyond good governance.