The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions or views of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation.
The launch of the 2018 Ibrahim Index of African Governance (IIAG) was covered by media outlets across Africa and around the world. Learn more about some of the featured discussions on African governance below.
Jobs, demographic dividend and economic growth
Most of the conversations that came from media coverage of the 2018 IIAG largely focused on the Index’s key finding that African governments have failed to translate economic growth into sustainable economic opportunities for their citizens.
During the day of the launch, Mo Ibrahim, along with Ibrahim Scholar Nasi Rwigema and Ibrahim Fellow Yvonne Apea Mensah, were interviewed live on Facebook from the Foundation’s headquarters in London by DW Africa’s Sella Oneko.
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Le Monde Afrique, BBC World Service, and the Financial Times published interviews with Mo Ibrahim highlighting the need for Africa to improve in areas such as Business Environment and Education to address the squandering of the demographic dividend. Mo also noted that key areas governments should focus on to foster better governance in the future were economic growth, jobs, and human rights.
CGTN also broadcast interviews with the Chair of the IIAG Advisory Council, Abdalla Hamdok, and Foundation Board member, Jay Naidoo on Africa Live. The piece highlighted the failure in improvements in the Sustainable Economic Opportunity category, noting that most African economies were still commodity driven. The piece also noted the urgent need to make improvements in the Education sub-category, particularly to encourage more students to study sciences.
Abdoulie Janneh, Executive Director of the Foundation, was interviewed live by VOA News where he recommended African governments look at their socio-economic opportunities and “create an enabling environment for business to thrive”.
Project Syndicate published an op-ed by former Ibrahim Fellow, Carl Manlan, on the urgent need for the continent to capitalise on its demographic dividend, where growth in GDP is not being translated into economic opportunities for young Africans.
A contrasting picture in Africa
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In his interview for CGTN Africa, Mo talked about the lack of economic opportunities in Africa, noting that the key findings of the IIAG are related to the continental average, and that a deeper look at the data reveals great diversity in scores across the continent.
Similarly, when interviewed by Jeune Afrique, Foundation Board member Pascal Lamy emphasised the need to interpret the complex data within the IIAG carefully, looking at each sub-category individually for specific countries.
During her interview for Devex, Foundation Board member, Mary Robinson noted that the continent’s overall progress has been driven by 15 countries, including Côte d'Ivoire, Morocco and Kenya, that continue to accelerate improvements over the past five years, masking the fact that in other countries momentum continues to falter. Regarding the pressures of population growth, Robinson said, “we know what works well on that: educating girls and women, having health systems that function well.”
Addressing the family planning taboo
Another topic that came from media coverage about the IIAG was family planning. In his Reuters interview, Mo warned that population growth was outstripping economic growth. “It is like running on a treadmill and we are not moving forward,” he said.
In his interview for Quartz Africa, Mo also noted the responsibility of governments in addressing “the fears and anxieties of people about their future in absence of safety nets, welfare state, and people relying on their kids to look after them at their old age.”
Debates at the national level
In South Africa, international and local outlets focused their coverage on the high-level discussion on the findings of the 2018 IIAG at the launch event in Pretoria, hosted in partnership with the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM). SABC News (South Africa) broadcast the opening remarks of South African Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Zweli Mkhize. Mr Mkhize noted the need to invest in the continent’s youth and stressed the importance of the IIAG in examining the issue of corruption within Africa.
Ibrahim Prize Committee member, Martti Ahtisaari was interviewed by The Namibian in Namibia, where he emphasised the improvements made in Participation & Human Rights in the country.
Francophone and lusophone local African media outlets such as Fraternité Matin (Côté d’Ivoire), Dakar Actu (Senegal), Expansão (Angola), and The Togo Tribune (Togo) reported on their countries’ scores and performance in the Index.
The Times interviewed Ibrahim Prize Laureate, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. She noted that the continent has some of the world’s oldest leaders, stating, “it is time to concede that the younger generation have a say, to take leadership in the country.” The article noted the deterioration of Business Environment in the 2018 IIAG, linking this to political and social unrest, and the failure to provide opportunities for the continent’s youth population.