IIAG – Frequently Asked Questions
For additional information and other resources, visit the downloads section.
What is the Ibrahim Index of African Governance (IIAG)?
The IIAG is an index that provides an annual statistical assessment of governance performance in 54 African countries. The IIAG highlights continental, regional, national and thematic governance results and thus provides a framework for any interested party to assess the delivery of public goods and services and public policy outcomes, as well as a tool with which to govern. The IIAG is the most comprehensive collection of data on African governance.
Why is it important to have an index of African Governance?
The Mo Ibrahim Foundation focuses on assessing, and ultimately enhancing governance and leadership in Africa. The IIAG was created in recognition of the need for a quantifiable tool to accurately measure and monitor performance in African countries, and as a means of supporting the development of effective and responsive solutions to complex public policy challenges. An index of African governance supports citizens, governments, institutions, the private sector, and others by providing data to evaluate the results of leadership, governance and public policy in African countries.
How do you define and measure governance?
The Mo Ibrahim Foundation defines governance in a broad sense, as the provision of the political, social and economic public goods and services that any citizen has the right to expect from his or her state, and that a state has the responsibility to deliver to its citizens. To measure the delivery of governance, the Foundation compiles data from 35 diverse global sources that cover the African continent. In order to complement existing sources, the Foundation also supports Global Integrity’s Africa Integrity Indicators (AII), V-Dem’s Varieties of Democracy Project and Afrobarometer Surveys. Of the 191 measures the IIAG includes, 35 measures are from the AII, 14 from the Varieties of Democracy Project and 16 from the Afrobarometer Surveys. The data form indicators which allow the Foundation to assess the delivery of public goods and services such as health, education and human rights. There are 102 indicators in the 2018 IIAG and they are classified under four main categories: Safety & Rule of Law; Participation & Human Rights; Sustainable Economic Opportunity; and Human Development. For further information please see our IIAG methodology.
Do you weight any of the data in the IIAG?
The Mo Ibrahim Foundation Board and the IIAG Advisory Council decided to give equal weight to the four main component categories of the IIAG. Therefore, the Overall Governance score is a simple un-weighted average of Safety & Rule of Law; Participation & Human Rights; Sustainable Economic Opportunity; and Human Development. However, given that the number of underlying indicators differs between sub-categories, and the number of sub-categories differs between categories, there is a degree of accepted, implicit weighting.
Who compiles the IIAG?
The Mo Ibrahim Foundation is not a primary data provider, but rather collates data from external sources. Using this third-party data, the IIAG is compiled and calculated by the Research Team at the Foundation’s Secretariat. The Research Team is guided by the IIAG Advisory Council. The Advisory Council is a body of academics, policy-makers and private sector representatives, the majority of whom are African, whose specific expertise ensures that the IIAG is the most comprehensive, relevant and robust tool to measure African governance.
Which countries and years does the IIAG cover?
The 2018 IIAG includes 54 African countries and covers a 10-year period, from 2008 to 2017 inclusive. The 2018 IIAG does not include data for South Sudan prior to secession in 2011. Due to the lack of data, trends have not been calculated for this country using data prior to 2011. The absence of South Sudan scores prior to 2011 means that 53 countries are ranked in 2008 to 2010 inclusive and 54 countries are ranked in 2011 to 2017 inclusive. This should be taken into account when looking at any trend that spans the time period pre- and post-2011. Similarly, averages calculated for groups which include South Sudan exclude the country in pre-secession years. Data for Sudan prior to 2011 (Former Sudan) have been used in the 2018 IIAG. Despite Sudan being a new country post-secession of South Sudan, pre-2011 data for ‘Former Sudan’ are deemed to be a suitable proxy for governance in Sudan.
How often is the IIAG updated?
The IIAG is updated annually and the framework is annually refined through continual consultation between the Research Team, Foundation Board and IIAG Advisory Council. Each year the entire dataset is revised retrospectively, meaning that IIAG analysis for any year should be done using the latest iteration of the IIAG. Currently the IIAG is published every year in October-November.
Are the IIAG scores expressed as percentages?
The IIAG scores are expressed out of 100.0 however they are not percentage measurements. Neither does a score of 100.0 imply perfect governance. Rather, a 100.0 score reflects the best score on the African continent, and 0.0 the worst score. Please see the IIAG methodology for an explanation as to how we arrive at the scores.
Where do the IIAG data come from?
The data are provided by 35 independent institutions. The Foundation does not collect primary data, but combines secondary data from robust data providers. For the time being, data come from, among others, multilateral development banks (such as the World Bank); think tanks (such as Bertelsmann Stiftung) and UN agencies, as well as African data providers (such as African Development Bank, CDD Ghana). In order to complement existing sources, the Foundation also supports Global Integrity’s Africa Integrity Indicators (AII), V-Dem’s Varieties of Democracy Project and Afrobarometer Surveys. These sources provide a range of data types, including Public Attitude Surveys, Expert Assessments, Official Data and Opinion Surveys.
How does the Foundation decide which indicators to include?
Indicators are initially selected based on the extent to which they are proxies for governance as defined by the Mo Ibrahim Foundation. After that consideration, and in order to guarantee the robustness of the IIAG, indicators can only be included if they cover at least 33 African countries, provide at least two years’ worth of data between 2008 and the latest data year, with the latest available data being no more than three years old, and new data releases are expected to be regular. The members of the Foundation Board and IIAG Advisory Council advise the Research Team on the inclusion/exclusion of all data used in the IIAG.
How does the IIAG go about selecting indicators that the Foundation can be confident provide an accurate assessment of governance?
The 2018 IIAG, as with all iterations of the IIAG, aims to capture the outputs and outcomes of governance in Africa, rather than inputs such as the legislative framework or financial commitments. As such, the vast majority of indicators within the IIAG are de facto measures rather than de jure. There are, however, some issues that the Foundation’s Board and Index Advisory Council regard as too important to exclude, for which the only reliable data available are de jure measures, such as Laws on Violence against Women. The Research Team continues to look for robust de facto measures for these issues.
Why is it that a country can improve its score but decline in rank (and vice versa)?
The IIAG is a relative index which takes into account the performance of the 54 African countries. This relativity means that a decline in rank does not necessarily depict worsening performance, as this movement can be the result of other countries performing relatively better.
Last year xx country came rank xx in the IIAG. However, the data provided today (which looks back over several years) contradicts this result. Did you make a mistake?
This is not a mistake. The structure and data of the IIAG are reviewed annually and revised when practical improvements are identified. This is in order to take into account new and better data, expert advice and the fact that some data sources revise historical data, based on new and more up-to-date information. As a result, when new historical data are made available, or the structure of the IIAG is strengthened, the entire dataset is updated back to 2008. Users of the Index should therefore always refer to the most recent version of the IIAG dataset.
Why are there no data for South Sudan before 2011?
The secession of South Sudan from Sudan essentially created two new countries. Whilst some data sources do provide data for South Sudan pre-secession, there currently is not enough data that can be used on the IIAG for South Sudan pre-secession. Despite Sudan being a new country post-secession of South Sudan, pre-2011 data for ‘Former Sudan’ are deemed to be a suitable proxy for governance in Sudan.
Statistical data in Africa are notoriously hard to come by. How confident are you that the information in the IIAG is accurate?
The IIAG utilises the most robust data available. However, there is currently a lack of data on Africa when compared with other continents, and this is a challenge for the Foundation in the compilation of the IIAG. Official data for many key indicators of governance, namely, employment, poverty and inequality, or climate change are patchy or out-of-date and therefore do not meet the IIAG criteria for inclusion. Funding data projects and finding indicators that allow these key areas, among others, to be included in the IIAG, as well as strengthening the assessment of issues currently covered, remains a core priority for the Foundation.
There are some well-known institutions that provide indices and some well-known indicators that are not used in the IIAG. Why is this?
The IIAG does not use composite values (i.e. indices) from other sources as indicators in the calculation of its own composite values. However, indices are interrogated for their constituent indicators in order to assess the feasibility of the inclusion of these indicators in the IIAG. In order to not bias scores, the Foundation’s Research Team carries out careful due diligence before including data in the IIAG. As a result, there are a variety of reasons why some indicators are not used in the IIAG. For example, some institutions that produce indices use the same underlying sources or indicators as the IIAG. Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI), for example, uses some of the same data sources to produce country scores. Including these underlying indicators of the CPI in the IIAG therefore, would result in duplication of content. There are other occasions where data do not meet the Foundation’s criteria for inclusion. Indicators such as the Gini coefficient, for example, rely on Household Surveys for their underlying data. Household surveys are carried out infrequently due to their prohibitively high cost. As such, the data do not meet the periodicity requirements of the IIAG (at least two data points are required for a minimum of 33 African countries between 2008 and the latest data year, with the latest data point being within the last three years).
The Mo Ibrahim Foundation advocates for more and better data on Africa, which would improve the IIAG. What is the Foundation doing to ensure this becomes a reality?
Apart from general advocacy, the Foundation is funding four organisations to support large-scale African data collection initiatives: Afrobarometer (Afrobarometer Surveys), Global Integrity (Africa Integrity Indicators), V-Dem Institute (Varieties of Democracy Project) the World Justice Project (WJP Rule of Law Index). By supporting these data collection initiatives, the Mo Ibrahim Foundation aims to complement existing datasets on Africa and enable a more accurate assessment of governance progress on the continent. Ensuring that the IIAG reflects the reality on the ground is vital to the Foundation.
How do you ensure the statistical robustness of the Index?
Governance is difficult to measure as it is not directly observable (that is, it is not as easily measurable as say time, or distance). The inherently statistically unobservable nature of governance means that a degree of imprecision will always be present in any measurement of it. These considerations mean the Research Team has to apply statistical methods to treat the data in order to make it useful and comparable, which means there are small margins of error when the IIAG is compiled, as is normal in a statistical project of this nature. In response to this, the Foundation publishes margins of error and confidence intervals which allow users to ascertain the score of a country with confidence. Users are recommended to use 90% confidence levels when assessing the significance of trends over time. For more information on this please see the IIAG methodology.
Do the IIAG scores take into account population size?
The IIAG measures the ability of a government to deliver the goods and services that its citizens have the right to expect, regardless of a country’s population size. As such, neither the country-level IIAG scores nor the calculation of group average scores take population size into account. It is of course possible for users of the IIAG to apply their own additional analysis to the results of the Index, such as exploring the performance of countries with particular characteristics such as population size, geography or GDP levels as done on the IIAG Data Portal.
How do African countries score in the IIAG compared to countries on other continents?
The Foundation is an African organisation that focuses on the African continent. It does not therefore compile governance indices for countries outside of Africa. Some of the underlying indicators provide data for countries outside of Africa, and allow comparison in that dimension, for example the World Bank’s indicator on Property Rights assesses countries worldwide. However, the Foundation uses only the data covering African countries. The Mo Ibrahim Foundation encourages the development of other governance indices, comparable or not, and is happy for the IIAG methodology to be replicated.
Are the IIAG and the Ibrahim Prize linked in any way?
The IIAG and the Ibrahim Prize are two of the four initiatives of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation (MIF). All initiatives of MIF focus on defining, assessing and ultimately enhancing governance and leadership in Africa. The IIAG is produced by the MIF Secretariat with guidance from the Advisory Council and leadership from the Board, whilst the Ibrahim Prize is awarded by an independent Prize Committee. The IIAG is of course used by the Prize Committee, among other resources, in their deliberations.
Is the IIAG freely available and can it be used in other work?
The Mo Ibrahim Foundation (MIF) is committed to making data on the quality of governance in Africa freely available and accessible to all. As such, you can access and download the Report and datasets here. MIF welcomes and encourages any accurate reproduction, translation and dissemination of this material. The material must be attributed to MIF, but not in any way that suggests that MIF endorses you or your use of the material.
Previously you provided a dataset that went back to 2000. Why have you chosen to publish a ten-year time series?
Previous iterations of the IIAG covered data from 2000 onwards. However, the African data landscape is continually evolving and improving, and so are methodologies of data collection. To take this into account, the 2018 IIAG is for the first time providing comparable governance data for the last decade only. While limiting the extent of estimated data in the earlier years of the IIAG, the new timeframe makes use of the most recent and up to date data. Additionally, because the IIAG methodology considers minimum and maximum raw data values across the entire time-series to produce normalised scores, the analysis based on ten years only includes the most recent governance performances, raising the bar in areas such as Health, where countries should benchmark themselves to more current standards.
The ten-year time series produces the most accurate possible assessment of the state of governance in Africa whilst still allowing to assess changes over time. Covering only 2008-2017 thereby strengthens the robustness of the analysis and the policy relevance of the IIAG.
Why did you select the 10 and 5-year time periods to focus on?
The IIAG results show that governance performance is not linear. Due to the constantly moving nature of governance performance, the 2018 IIAG publication assesses country trends in the last five years (2013-2017), within the context of the last decade (2008-2017). This analysis provides long-term findings and trends, as well as focusing on the short-term, in order to provide a more nuanced assessment of the performance of countries and groups. Whilst some countries/groups show certain trajectories over ten years, looking closer within that ten-year period provides interesting analysis on a countries’ recent trajectory.
The intention of this analysis is to illustrate that whilst the IIAG can be used to view long-term trends, due to the changing nature of governance performance, it is important to assess both the long-term and short-term alongside each other.
Did you include new variables in the IIAG this year?
Every year, MIF also evaluates the data landscape for Africa in the lookout for new variables to strengthen the IIAG. This year, the IIAG includes 16 new variables from five different sources: African Development Bank, Bertelsmann Stiftung, Global Integrity, V-Dem and World Economic Forum. Most of these have been incorporated into already existent indicators or sub-indicators, improving their accuracy. However, there are three new indicators measuring concepts that were not previously included in the Index: Absence of Restrictions on Foreign Investment, Enabling Environment for Infrastructure Development and Promotion of Socio-economic Integration of Youth.
- Absence of Restrictions on Foreign Investment (World Economic Forum): This indicator assesses the extent rules and regulations on foreign direct investments (FDI) are restrictive, ranging from extremely restrictive to not restrictive at all.
- Enabling Environment for Infrastructure Development (African Development Bank): This indicator assesses how government’s policies and strategies as well as human and financial resources contribute to infrastructure development, providing rationale and support for score in three criteria: 1) Legal and Regulatory Frameworks for Infrastructure, 2) Sector Strategy, 3) Public Resource Management and Accountability in the Infrastructure Sector.
- Promotion of Socio-economic Integration of Youth (Global Integrity): This indicator assesses whether there is a government policy/strategy to increase the socio-economic integration of youth. This includes whether there is a department or equivalent mandated to ensure the socio-economic integration of youth, if in the last year it implemented permanent programs to ensure education, employment and/or housing, and if all or most in the total population have access to these programs.
Why is the 2018 IIAG’s Transparency & Accountability sub-category different from the 2017 IIAG’s?
For the 2018 IIAG, the sub-category Transparency & Accountability has been substantially strengthened, creating a clearer structure with new variables. The revision started with the re-organisation of the sub-category’s components around three different dimensions: transparency, accountability and corruption. To better reflect this, MIF in consultation with the IIAG Advisory Council decided to rename the sub-category from Accountability to Transparency & Accountability.
The names of the measures were also improved for precision and clarity, for example Abuse of Office becomes Sanctions for Abuse of Office. Additionally, the variables that depict a negative concept are now preceded by a qualifier such as ‘Absence of’ since the IIAG scores range from 0.0 to 100.0, where 100.0 is the best score, for example Corruption in the Public Sector becomes Absence of Corruption in the Public Sector. Finally, seven new variables from Bertelsmann Stiftung, V-Dem and World Economic Forum were added to the sub-category in order to strengthen already existing indicators with new and up-to-date data.