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The Ibrahim Index of African Governance: why it is important

All African citizens desire to be governed well. Governments are accountable to their citizens, and the IIAG measures their performance in the provision of the political, social and economic public goods and services that every citizen has the right to expect from their state, and that a state has the responsibility to deliver to its citizens.

The 2018 Ibrahim Index of African Governance (IIAG) will be the 12th iteration. It has been produced annually since 2007, refined and strengthened each year under the guidance of the Board of the Foundation, the IIAG Advisory Council, and friends and partners.

In 2007, the first IIAG report was titled Strengthening African Governance. The purpose of the Index has always been to provide a quantifiable tool to measure and monitor governance performance in African countries, to assess their progress over time and to support the development of effective and responsive policy solutions. The IIAG is an instrument to help strengthen governance and leadership in Africa, which is the focus of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation. This cannot be done without data on governance and it is why the Foundation has produced a new and improved governance index annually, since 2007. It is one tool among many, but an important one that allows us to assess, debate and ultimately improve good governance on our continent.

The importance of the IIAG measurements of African governance

The Index provides more than an Overall Governance ranking of countries. The 2018 IIAG is a measure of a decade of performance among four categories and within each of the categories, separate evaluations exist measuring the performance of 54 African countries.

The categories and their components are important for African governance. Provision of social, economic and political goods is impossible without Safety & Rule of Law. The IIAG measures the extent to which governments deliver safety for citizens through assessing whether the state has a monopoly over violence, provides a safe and secure environment for the pursuit of individual or group endeavours, and guarantees personal security through the sub-categories National Security and Personal Safety. The sub-category Rule of Law assesses the extent to which states have effective methods of adjudicating disputes of all kinds and enforcing laws through judicial mechanisms free of state control, whilst Transparency & Accountability measures the degree to which public officials, institutions and the private sector are subject to oversight and scrutiny by other institutions and citizens, in order to make governments responsive in pursuing the public interest.

Political freedom and human rights are essential to good governance. The Participation & Human Rights category measures political freedoms by assessing citizen participation in the political process, the ability for elections to be contested freely, respect for basic rights and the absence of gender discrimination through the sub-categories Participation, Rights and Gender.

Governments must also provide Sustainable Economic Opportunity and enable their citizens to pursue economic goals and provide the opportunity to prosper. This category examines whether governments provide an environment conducive to such prosperity through the sub-categories Public Management and the Business Environment, assessing whether these encourage national and personal wealth creation through outcomes of indicators relating to issues such as fiscal policies, management of public services and job creation. Infrastructure, such as physical communication and transportation infrastructure, are also critical to achieving these objectives, as is the extent to which the Rural Sector plays a role in shaping the economic climate and creating equal opportunity for citizens.

Finally, governments must supply the opportunity for Human Development. Africa’s progress in supplying Human Development for its citizens is measured in the IIAG by three components assessing whether governments provide opportunities for educational advancement, health care and medical and sanitary services, and poverty mitigation and alleviation. These goods are captured in the three sub-categories Welfare, Education and Health.

It is important that all stakeholders involved in strengthening governance in Africa are able to accurately measure and assess these core foundations of governance. The Index delivers this by including indicators to measure these concepts, the majority of which contain their own sub-indicators. The 2018 IIAG is, therefore, comprised of 273 different measures of governance capturing the performance of individual countries for each of the last ten years from (2008-2017), containing almost 150,000 data points in total. It also allows for groupings to be compared; such as geographic regions or economic communities.

An objective and independent measure of African governance

The IIAG is not a tool that intends to criticise governments: it is an objective exercise to help further the conversation on governance, to assess current and emerging trends, identify areas to improve, and to highlight and learn from success.

It does not make policy prescriptions. It uses the same indicators for all countries, regardless of the size of their economy, population, geography or other external factors. These are of course important and must be assessed alongside the data. Africa is a continent of many unique countries, but the IIAG aims to provide an objective dataset. Importantly, the indicators used measure outcomes of policy, and not inputs This is so that the Index measures not the promises of governments, but whether citizens are benefitting from government’s actions.

For 12 years now, the IIAG has been the most comprehensive assessment of governance performance on the African continent, provided free of charge by the Mo Ibrahim Foundation. With the oversight of the IIAG Advisory Council and Foundation Board, comprised of experts and leaders on the African continent, the IIAG is evolving and improving every year.

By comprehensively and meticulously assessing governance performance in this manner, the IIAG permits governments, citizens, academia, the private sector, civil society and other institutions to assess, debate, learn, and ultimately improve governance in areas where the essential political goods as described by the IIAG must be delivered. Ultimately, this is the purpose and importance of the IIAG: to help strengthen African governance.

 

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