The 2015 edition of the Ibrahim Index of African Governance in its 9th edition was launched recently, and What’s On Africa was present – here, Richard Itaman shares eight things we learnt from this year’s index.

1 – Africa is not a country– Clichéd as this may sound, the governance landscape in countries and regions in Africa is very diverse, with more than a 70 point gap between the top ranking country, Mauritius, and the bottom ranking, Somalia. Overall, governance has stalled with an average score of 50.1 points. However, it is encouraging that 33 countries have shown progress out of a total of 54 on the continent – however the trends that underpin performance in each country and region are also unique. Policy-makers and other professional noisemakers should bear this in mind when targeting problem around the continent going forward.

2 – Africans care deeply about making progress– The index shows that its citizens are keen to do their part in tackling many of the issues that hinder the continent’s progress. There have been major improvements in Participation especially in politics and the measure of Effective Power to Govern. Overall Human Development has improved on the continent as more children are being enrolled in and finishing primary school. There is also swelling demand for accountability from government. These are indicative of citizens’ desire to take the future into their own hands.

3 – But, governments need to do more– Sadly, the complementary will of governments to deliver on the responsibilities placed on them isn’t often less than glaring. Rather, there has been a decline in overall score in Safety of lives and properties and Rule of Law, the provision of SustainableEconomic Opportunities and to some extent accountability. These bear evidence that more effort needs to be wielded on the part of governments. To correct these persistent problems requires an understanding of the responsibility to govern as a privilege and the need for more targeted policy framework for good governance.

4 – The marginalisation of women is getting some attention– A pat on the back for the progress in Gender Though a small improvement, African countries have shown willingness to confront one of the continent’s major developmental problems. Notwithstanding, more advance is necessary in this area by way of Legislation on Violence against Women.

5 – Africa has made remarkable strides in Healthcare– This deserves some accolades too. One must not forget the recent battle and defeat of the deadly Ebola in West Africa amidst other healthcare problems. The Best Performing Category status and improvements in health springs hope. Hope in the spirit and resilience of a continent to rise above its struggles. Yet, improvements need to be made in Public Health CampaignsAccess to Sanitation and Antiretroviral Treatment (ART).

6 – Economic growth does not always translate to goodgovernance – It is obvious that some of the continent’s economic powerhouses linger in the bottom of the index. The reason being that growth is yet to be translated into Sustainable Economic Opportunities, by implication, good governance.

7 – A business responsive environment is desperately needed inAfrica – Banks need to encourage businesses and entrepreneurship while bottlenecks of business processes must be minimised by governments as Mo Ibrahim himself pointed out during the index launch – addressing issues like customs and border bottlenecks is fully within the powers of African states It is important to mention that a more targeted pursuit of investment in research by governments and businesses to improve the Education System Quality in Africa is needed too.

8 – Good governance and crises don’t ally – The index is a testament to this fact. The five largest deteriorations are in crises plagued countries. During the index launch, Donald Kaberuka, former president of the African Development Bank, was quick to stress that some of the best performers on the index, Cote d’Ivoire and Zimbabwe would have done even better, without the conflict that engulfed their societies – both were on track in the 90s to become middle-income countries. It bears repeat that much progress will be gained by directing our energies towards improvement within a peaceful environment.

The Ibrahim Index on African Governance was launched in London on Monday 5th October 2015 – you can find further information about the index at: http://www.moibrahimfoundation.org

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