The Mo Ibrahim Index African Governance (IIAG) has just released its 2015 Report, recording slow but “balanced improvements,” it said, in Liberia’s performance indicators for overall governance, since 2006. Reflecting an 8.7 per cent improvement over the last decade, according to the report, Liberia barely meets the continental average, ranking 28th among the 54 countries.
Decade of data
This is the tenth edition of the IIAG, the most comprehensive analysis of African governance undertaken to date, says the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, and brings together a decade of data to assess each of Africa’s 54 countries against 95 indicators drawn from 34 independent sources. This year, for the first time, the IIAG includes Public Attitude Survey data from Afrobarometer. This captures Africans’ own perceptions of governance, which provide fresh perspective on the results registered by other data such expert assessment and official data.
Over the last decade, according to the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, overall governance across the continent has improved by an average of one score point, with 37 countries – home to 70% of African citizens – registering progress. This overall positive trend has been led mainly by improvement in Human Development and Participation & Human Rights. Sustainable Economic Opportunity also registered an improvement, but at a slower pace.
However, the Foundation says, these positive trends stand in contrast to a pronounced and concerning drop in Safety & Rule of Law, for which 33 out of the 54 African countries – home to almost two-thirds of the continent’s population – have experienced a decline since 2006, 15 of them quite substantially. This worrying trend has worsened recently, with almost half of the countries on the continent recording their worst score ever in this category within the last three years. This is driven by large deteriorations in the sub- categories of Personal Safety and National Security.
Since 2006 the IIAG has worked to provide an annual assessment of the quality of governance in every African country. Originally established by the Mo Ibrahim Foundation in collaboration with the John F. Kennedy School of Government (Harvard University), the IIAG consists of more than 90 indicators built up into 14 sub-categories, four categories and one overall measurement of governance performance.
The four main categories include; safety and the rule of law; participation and human rights; sustainable economic opportunity; and human development. The indicators include official data, expert assessments and citizen surveys, provided by more than 30 independent global data institutions and, according to IIAG, represent the most comprehensive collection of data on African governance. Data sources include, but are not limited to, the World Bank, the African Development Bank and Afrobarometer, among others.
Liberia since 2006
For Safety and Rule of Law, Liberia ranks 23rd with a score of 57.2 percent (+14.8 since 2006). This indicator captures the extent to which all individuals are protected from both internal and external threats to the peace, the degree to which society is safe and secure is accessed alongside the existence of a robust legal system and transparent, effective and accessible institutions – within all branches of the state. This indicator comprises several sub-categories including rule of law, accountability, personal safety and national security.
On Participation and Human Rights, Liberia ranks 20th with a score of 58.9 percent (+7 points since 2006). This indicator which emphasizes relationship between government and citizens. On the one hand, it measures the extent to which individuals can participate in, and take ownership of, the political process and, on the other hand, the state’s achievement in guaranteeing the political and social rights of all citizens. The three subcategories include participation, rights and gender. Liberia got its only negative score for gender (-0.8 since 2006) in the 2015 report.
On sustainable economic opportunity, Liberia ranks 35th with a score of 37.7 percent (+7.9 since 2006). Subcategories for this indicator include public management, business environment, infrastructure and rural sector, which takes a panoramic perspective into whether state provides the conditions necessary for the pursuit of economic opportunities that contribute to a prosperous and equitable society and measures the delivery of sound economic policies and provision of a sustainable economic environment that is conducive to investment and the operation of a business. According to the report, Liberia has made a 22.8 point improvement on the rural sector subcategory in the last decade.
Meanwhile, in terms of human development, Liberia ranks 45th with a score of 46.3 percent (+5.1 since 2006). Human development, according to the report, captures the success of the state in securing the well-being of all its citizens and measures the extent to which the government provides citizens with social protection, comprehensive education provision and healthy life. Subcategories include education, health and welfare. Under education and health, Liberia records slight improvements of 1.4 and 3.7 points respectively, while for welfare, the country achieved a 10.3 point improvement since 2006.
For the first time, the 2016 IIAG includes measures the lived experience of poverty. Poverty is now captured through two indicators. A new clustered indicator from Afrobarometer, Poverty, consists of four underlying measures that capture the quality of living conditions of the public, and the extent to which the public have gone without enough food to eat, clean water for home use and fuel to cook food in the past year. A strengthened indicator, Poverty Reduction Priorities, which includes a new measure Living Standards of the Poor from
Afrobarometer, alongside the existing measures on the Equity of Public Resource Use captures the level of public satisfaction with how the government is improving the living standards of the poor, and the extent to which public expenditure and revenue collection affects poor populations and is consistent with national poverty reduction priorities. Under Living Standards of the Poor, Liberia showed a decline of 17.4 points, while Equity of Public Resources (AfDB and WB data) record in improvement of +2.9 points.
Highs and lows
Notably, Accountability is now the lowest scoring sub-category of the whole Index. Without exception, all countries that have deteriorated at the Overall Governance level have also deteriorated in Safety & Rule of Law. The improvement in the Participation & Human Rights category, found in 37 countries across the continent, has been driven by progress in Gender and in Participation. However, a marginal deterioration appears in the sub-category Rights, with some worrying trends in indicators relating to the civil society space. Sustainable Economic Opportunity is the IIAG’s lowest scoring and slowest improving category. However, 38 countries – together accounting for 73% of continental GDP – have recorded an improvement over the last decade.
The largest progress has been achieved in the sub-category Infrastructure, driven by a massive improvement in the indicator Digital & IT Infrastructure, the most improved of all 95 indicators. However, the average score for Infrastructure still remains low, with the indicator
Electricity Infrastructure registering a particularly worrying decline in 19 countries, home to 40% of Africa’s population. Progress has also been achieved in Rural Sector sub-category.
Human Development is the best performing category over the last decade, with 43 countries – home to 87% of African citizens – registering progress. All dimensions – Education, Health and Welfare – have improved, although progress in the sub-category Welfare has been affected by declines in Social Exclusion and Poverty Reduction Priorities indicators.
According to Mo Ibrahim, Chair of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, “The improvement in overall governance in Africa over the last decade reflects a positive trend in a majority of countries and for over two-thirds of the continent’s citizens. No success, no progress can be sustained without constant commitment and effort. As our Index reveals, the decline in safety and rule of law is the biggest issue facing the continent today. Sound governance and wise leadership are fundamental to tackling this challenge, sustaining recent progress and ensuring that Africa’s future is bright.”