African governments have failed to translate economic growth into improved Sustainable Economic Opportunity for their citizens

Since 2008 the African average score for Sustainable Economic Opportunity has increased by 0.1 point, an equivalent of only 0.2%, despite a continental increase in GDP of nearly 40% over the same period. There has been virtually no progress in creating Sustainable Economic Opportunity, meaning it remains the Index’s worst performing and slowest improving category.

There is also no strong relationship between the size of a country’s economy and its performance in Sustainable Economic Opportunity. In 2017, four of the ten countries with the highest GDP on the continent still score below the African average score for Sustainable Economic Opportunity and sit in the lower half of the rankings.

African governance progress is lagging behind demographic growth and youth expectations

Calling for attention is the trajectory of the African average score for Business Environment. Deteriorating by almost -5.0 points over the last ten years, this is a worrying trend given that the number of working age Africans (15-64 years old) is expected to grow by almost another 30% over the next ten years.

Further cause for concern is Education. While Human Development is one of the bigger success stories of the 2018 IIAG, driven by improvements in Health, the stalling progress in Education seen in last year’s Index has now turned to decline. For 27 countries, Education scores registered deterioration in the last five years, meaning that for more than half (52.8%) of Africa’s youth population, education outcomes are worsening.

African countries show increasing divergence in Overall Governance performance

African countries show increasing divergence in Overall Governance performance. Continental progress is mainly driven by 15 countries that have managed to accelerate their pace of improvement over the last five years.

Divergence is also reflected in Sustainable Economic Opportunity trends. While 27 of Africa’s countries have shown some improvement – in 25 countries, accounting for 43.2% of Africa’s citizens, Sustainable Economic Opportunity performance has declined over the last ten years.

Rule of Law, Transparency & Accountability key to improving public governance in Africa

The IIAG results confirm that Rule of Law and Transparency & Accountability are key pillars of good governance.

These two sub-categories show the strongest relationships with Overall Governance scores in Africa, with strong performance in these areas being the most common components of countries that perform well.

Transparency & Accountability is also strongly related to the Sustainable Economic Opportunity category and Business Environment sub-category, indicating that improvements in these areas will support progress and economic opportunity in Africa.