/ 4 October 2010

Africans see economic gains, democracy losses

Many Africans are enjoying greater access to economic opportunity but are seeing their political rights undermined, according to an index of governance measures published on Monday.

The Mo Ibrahim Foundation, also known for an annual prize aimed at African leaders, warned there was a risk that citizens’ rights were being neglected as Africa made economic strides.

“We have seen from evidence and experience across the world that discrepancies between political governance and economic management are unsustainable in the long term,” Foundation board member Salim Ahmed Salim said.

The 2010 index is based on 88 indicators drawn from official sources and was largely unchanged overall from 2009 as economic and health gains were cancelled out by declines in political rights, personal safety and the rule of law.

Mauritius, Seychelles, Botswana, Cape Verde and South Africa led the overall governance ranking as they did last year, with Somalia, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Zimbabwe, Eritrea and Sudan once again at the bottom.

Angola, Liberia and Togo each made marked improvements in their overall scores, while Eritrea and Madagascar saw declines. The full dataset is published on the foundation website at .

The indicators cover a broad range of categories such as violent crime, corruption, labour rights, girls’ education, inflation and child mortality rates.

The mixed picture appears to reflect a continent where industry sectors such as portable telephony are booming and investors are jostling over access to raw materials even as violent conflicts deepen and democratic rights are abused.

The foundation has chosen for the past two years not to award its African leadership prize, aimed at former heads of state deemed to have fully dedicated their term in office to helping their people.

Mo Ibrahim is a Sudanese-born telecoms entrepreneur who set up the foundation in 2006 with the goal of promoting good governance and leadership. – Reuters