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What’s new in the 2018 Ibrahim Index of African Governance: time series, focus on youth and improved data

As we prepare to launch the 2018 Ibrahim Index of African Governance (IIAG) on 29 October, our research team have prepared a blog series to better explain what you can expect for this year's assessment of the quality of governance in Africa.

The first blog of the series focuses on the new concepts and improvements in the 12th iteration of the Index.

The IIAG is an annual statistical assessment of the quality of governance in 54 African countries. In every iteration, the Mo Ibrahim Foundation (MIF) – assisted by the IIAG’s Advisory Council – looks at improving the structure, components and methodology of the IIAG. Due to this annual revision, every year MIF recalculates all scores in the Index.

This year, the 2018 IIAG includes a shorter time-series, new concepts and an improved Transparency & Accountability sub-category.

The structure of the IIAG

Governance, as defined by MIF, is the provision of political, social and economic public goods and services that every citizen has the right to expect from his or her state, and that a state has the responsibility to deliver to its citizens.

This definition is reflected in the structure of the IIAG which uses four categories to measure Overall Governance:

These categories provide a framework around which to organise underlying data and construct the IIAG, with 14 sub-categories made up of 102 indicators. The data for the 2018 IIAG come from 35 independent international sources with 29.2% of data being provided by African sources, such as the African Development Bank, Afrobarometer, and the Ghana Center for Democratic Development. In the first iteration of the IIAG in 2007, only one African source was included.

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 significantly assess changes over time. Covering only 2008-2017 thereby strengthens the robustness of the analysis and the policy relevance of the IIAG.

New concepts

Every year, MIF also evaluates the data landscape for Africa in the lookout for new variables to strengthen the IIAG. To be included in the IIAG, a variable has to be a suitable proxy for governance. It must have at least two years' worth of data since the beginning of the time series (2008) for at least 33 countries, and the latest data point for these 33 countries must exist within the last three years. Furthermore, in order to differentiate between scores, numerical granularity is taken into consideration, with all the measures being on a four-point scale or more.

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.

For the first time, an assessment of youth inclusion is part of the IIAG. Almost one in five Africans is between 15 and 24 years old and this number is only expected to increase in the next decades: in ten years, by 25.9% and in 2050 by 86.6% This is going to further raise the demand for better education, more jobs and more participation. For this reason, through the indicator Promotion of Socio-economic Integration of Youth (provided by Global Integrity), the Foundation assesses whether there is a government policy/strategy to increase the socio-economic integration of youth.

Transparency & Accountability strengthening

For the 2018 IIAG, the sub-category Transparency & Accountability has also 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, Corruption in the Public Sector for example becomes Absence of Corruption in the Public Sector.

Finally, seven new variables were added to Transparency & Accountability in order to strengthen already existing indicators with new and up-to-date data, creating the structure below:

2018 IIAG launch

As the African data landscape improves, the IIAG has been strengthened so it remains the most comprehensive, robust and up-to-date measurement of governance in Africa. The results will be made available on 29 October with the online release of the 2018 IIAG. Data will be available at and