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Launch of the 2018 Ibrahim Index of African Governance (IIAG): Reflections on governance performance on the African continent and in South Africa

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 Mo Ibrahim Foundation (MIF) and the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) hosted a high-level discussion on the results of the 2018 Ibrahim Index of African Governance (IIAG) in Pretoria, South Africa.

Following the IIAG’s global online launch on 29 October, representatives from government, private sector, diplomats and civil society gathered on Friday, 2 November to discuss the findings and trends of the 2018 IIAG, and what they mean for Africa.

The event opened with welcoming remarks by Abdoulie Janneh, MIF Executive Director and Professor Eddy Maloka, APRM Chief Executive Officer. Their contributions outlined the complementing role that both organisations seek to play in improving good governance across the continent by assessing progress in areas such as transparency, openness, accountability, and inclusiveness.

The keynote address was delivered by Minister Zweli Mkhize, Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) in South Africa. Minister Mkhize encouraged public service institutions to provide leadership based on integrity, selflessness and loyalty in order to improve public governance.

Minister Mkhize commented:

In this era of seeking to control our public service and its vast resources, we must have a public service cadre that is impenetrable. We appeal to our public servants to focus on their work and not be distracted by business interest and greed which threatens the public service and enables corruption to creep in.

Panellists responding to the Minister Mkhize’s address were senior diplomats, officials and academics, including; H.E. Kintu Nyago, Ambassador of Uganda to South Africa; Professor Thuli Madonsela, Social Justice Chair, University of Stellenbosch and former Public Protector; Dr Abdalla Hamdok, Chair of the IIAG Advisory Council; Malango Mughogho, Managing Director, ZeniZeni Sustainable Finance and former Ibrahim Leadership Fellow; Kimi Makwetu, Auditor General of South Africa; Jay Naidoo, MIF Board member; Professor Somadoda Fikeni, University of South Africa and Mandipa Ndlovu, Research Analyst, University of Cape Town and former Ibrahim Scholar.

The launch event also hosted presentations on the IIAG findings by Nathalie Delapalme, MIF Executive Director, as well as an analysis of South Africa’s governance performance by Yannick Vuylsteke, Head of the IIAG, and Jean-Yves Adou, Head of Division on Knowledge Management, Monitoring and Evaluation, APRM.

Nathalie Delapalme commented:

In the last ten years, Africa’s total GDP has grown by 39.7%, whilst the average Sustainable Economic Opportunity score has improved by only 0.2%. The data shows that not enough has been done to meet the needs and expectations of Africa’s growing youth population. This is an area of significant concern when analysing Africa’s governance performance. Continuing conversation on how to increase the performance for Sustainable Economic Opportunity is key and must now urgently lead to implementation.

Professor Eddy Maloka commented:

Beyond today we have to maintain this conversation on the state of governance in Africa. There is complementarity in what is coming out of the IIAG in terms of the continent’s and South Africa’s governance performance with what other indexes are saying: key drivers of concern in South Africa are accountability, public safety, and economic opportunity.

Mr Jay Naidoo commented:

The Index is confirming that in the last decade we’ve lost ground. We need to now focus on improving governance from the top-down, improving governance within all aspects of the state, and in particular building the type of smart partnerships between government, the private sector, and civil society.

It was concluded by participants at the event, that in order to move forward and improve Africa’s governance landscape, it is important to place youth in leadership positions by equipping them with rights, knowledge, tools and values.