Mo Ibrahim Foundation: Index of African Governance and African Leadership Prize 2012

On October 15th Dr Loren Treisman went to the launch of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation 2012 Ibrahim Index of African Governance (IIAG). The sixth index to be compiled, the 2012 edition shows positive trends for the governance of the continent, but reveals some unfavourable shifts in some states; particularly in Africa’s four regional powerhouses – South Africa, Egypt, Kenya and Nigeria.

The IIAG is a composite index based on 88 indicators grouped into four categories; ‘Safety and Rule of Law’, ‘Participation and Human Rights’, ‘Sustainable Economic Opportunity’, and finally ‘Human Development’. This year there was improvement in all the sub categories that make up ‘Sustainable Economic Opportunity’ and ‘Human Development’, but in some areas of ‘Safety and Rule of Law’ and ‘Participation and Human Right’s’ declines have been registered. The four regional powerhouses have all declined the most with respect to participation which assesses the extent to which citizens have the freedom to participate in the political process. The decline of the powerhouses is reason for concern; these are the economic leaders that wield great power and influence on the continent.

Regionally South, Central and West Africa are all slowly improving their governance scores whilst North and East Africa have registered declines. West Africa has overtaken East Africa in the category of ‘Sustainable Economic Opportunity’ due to both improved economic management in the region and the economic slide of the East African anchor economies; Kenya and Uganda.

Overall Mauritius tops the table with a score of 83/100 whilst Somalia falls last with 7/100. This year Sudan and South Sudan could not be included; highlighting the continued difficulty of obtaining reliable and accurate data for the continent as a whole. The biggest improvements were made by Liberia which climbed thirteen places to exit the ten worst countries on the continent whilst Madagascar shows the greatest decline. The data can be found here.

Alongside the Index it was also announced that this year there will be no laureate for the Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership; the largest annually awarded prize in the world. The prize of US$5 million over ten years, a yearly stipend thereafter and a further US$200,000 annually for public interest activities has previously been awarded to Presidents Joaquim Chissano of Mozambique, Festus Mogae of Botswana and Pedro Pires of Cape Verde. This year, of the few eligible retired heads of state, none were found to have been outstanding enough to merit such an accolade.

The decision not to award the Ibrahim prize is always controversial having happened twice before in 2009 and 2010. Some commentators argue that it creates a media image that paints all of Africa as poorly governed and corrupt. Others point out that the five demanding eligibility criteria wipe out many candidates. This coupled with the enormity of the world’s largest individual monetary award is the reason for a lack of winners.

The five criteria require an individual who:

  • was a former head of executive or state
  • democratically elected
  • served only their constitutionally mandated term
  • left office in the last three years
  • exceptional leadership

What do you, our readers, think? Is the decision not to award the prize the right call? Who would be your candidate? And what do you think about the Ibrahim index? Is it a useful tool for encouraging better governance?

Let us know below!