Mo Ibrahim Says Governance Good In Small African Countries, Big Ones Not So Much

By Dana Sanchez Published: October 3, 2016, 6:28 pm
Mo IbrahimMo Ibrahim. Photo: video

Rule of law and safety took big hits in the past 10 years of African governance, with small, low-population countries tending to score higher than economic powerhouses on the Mo Ibrahim Index of African Governance 2016.

The index — the most comprehensive survey of its kind — celebrated its 10th anniversary today with a report that shows little improvement in governance in most of Africa’s 54 countries over the past decade, Washington Post reported.

Sudanese-British businessman Mo Ibrahim got rich on telecommunications, and he has invested millions of his fortune in his belief that nothing is more important to African development than good governance, according to an earlier AFKInsider report.

Africans love him for it. Ibrahim is so popular he gets mobbed more than rock stars.

“People were elbowing me out of the way to get to Mo,” Bono said, according to

After Ibrahim’s telecommunications company, Celtel, sold in 2005 for $3.4 billion, Ibrahim set up the Mo Ibrahim Foundation.

In addition to business acumen, Ibrahim values the rule of law. “We cannot expect loyalty to an unjust regime,” he said in a HuffingtonPost report. “The state and its elites must be subject, in theory and in practice, to the same laws that its poorest citizens are.”

AWhen it comes to rule of law, the survey measures personal safety, national security, accountability and the judicial system. Almost half of Africa’s 54 countries scored worse than ever on safety and rule of law in at least one of the past three years.

The cumulative index for African governance went up by one point overall on a 100-point scale over the past 10 years.

Ibrahim talked about presidents for life — a pet peeve of his that happens a lot in Africa — at the Mo Ibrahim Foundation 2016 index launch.

Each year the foundation offers a $5 million cash prize as an incentive to African leaders to respect their constitutional terms of office. The prize has been awarded five times in its 10 years of existence.

“Power corrupts absolutely,” Ibrahim said. “If you’re corrupting you’re afraid of leaving office because you’re afraid of what’s going to happen to you. What is happening now is that people are learning how to steal elections because that looks less brutal than saying ‘I’m president for life.’ The end result is the same.

“One third of our countries … are suffering from this phenomenon. There is a limit to how long they can go on stealing elections. More and more of these elections are being subject to the harsh light of observation, authentication, social media. The last election in Gabon –everyone knows the story. Bongo did not win.  Unfortunately I do not see the international outrage. It has to end.”

Mauritius, Seychelles, Namibia, Botswana and Cape Verde score well on the Index, Washington Post reported. Countries with large economies like Ghana and South Africa saw scores fall across the board. Somalia, South Sudan, Libya and Burundi, which saw conflict in the past decade, rank near the bottom.

Ivory Coast, Togo, Zimbabwe, Liberia and Rwanda are among 37 African countries that improved in governance since 2006, Africa News reported.

Although South Africa was one of the survey’s top­-ranked countries, it had the largest decline, New York Times reported. The continent’s most industrialized economy is facing recession, high unemployment and power shortages.

Niger, Rwanda, Ivory Coast, Togo and Kenya had improvements in business environment over the past decade but 67 percent of the African population have seen deteriorating freedom of expression.

Digital and IT infrastructure was the most improved indicator out of the 95 measured on the index. Diversification was the least improved.  Electricity infrastructure deteriorated over the decade.

Corruption and bureaucracy got worse over the last decade in 33 countries with 24 of them recording their worst-ever score in 2015. Human rights and human development and participation improved, as did sustainable economic opportunity.

Poverty and child mortality reduced over the 10-year period, according to the index.

Raising awareness of African leaders who embody good governance is part of the battle, Ibrahim said, recalling a visit to the London School of Economics where he spoke to a students including many Africans.

“None of them had heard of Hifikepunye Pohamba or Festus Mogae,” he said, referring to the former presidents of Namibia and Botswana who have won his foundation’s prize. “All our continent’s criminals are celebrities in the West. But our good people — some of them are real heroes — nobody knows about them.”

The governance index measures each African country on 95 criteria taken from 34 independent source, New York Times reported. Afrobarometer, which polls public perceptions on corruption, economic opportunity and human rights, is a new addition.

“To be able to look at measurements of these key indicators over the 10 years from 2006 until 2015 is valuable,” said Mary Robinson, former president of Ireland and member of the foundation board of directors, in an Associated Press interview. “This is the strongest governance survey of Africa.”




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