News & Media / Mo Ibrahim: a stronger IIAG to assess governance in Africa

Mo Ibrahim: a stronger IIAG to assess governance in Africa

28 October, 2020

I set up the Mo Ibrahim Foundation (MIF) in 2006 with a key mission: to assess and strengthen governance and leadership in Africa. As a vital tool for this endeavour, the Ibrahim Index of African Governance (IIAG) was conceived and built to provide a comprehensive dashboard of governance performance in African countries. We strongly believe that there can be no sound public policy without sound data: nobody can drive blind. You must know where you are coming from, what you are aiming at, and whether you are getting there most effectively.

For MIF, governance is more than transparency and democracy. It is the ability of a state to properly deliver to its citizens all the political, social, economic and environmental public goods and services that any 21st century citizen has the right to expect. 

When we launched our first Index in 2007, governance was seen more as a conditionality for donor aid than as a recipe for government efficiency, and Africa’s data landscape was rather fragmented. The IIAG has helped ensure that public governance now sits at the centre of Africa’s development agenda, with the firm belief that it is the engine behind any tangible, shared, and sustainable improvement in the quality of life of African citizens. 

But any tool, any engine needs to regularly undergo an in-depth review in order to remain efficient and up to date. Over the last ten years, the governance landscape and the expectations of 21st century citizens of their governments have largely expanded. Meanwhile, data on Africa have become both more available and more robust. To take into account those changes, a thorough revision of the IIAG, the first of this depth since its inception, has been conducted between 2018 and 2020, providing a completely re-worked framework for future IIAGs.

For me, the three main changes provided by this revised Index are the following: 

First, the inclusion of new, crucial governance dimensions. Alongside traditional public services, such as security or education, the 2020 IIAG now encompasses new key areas such as environment protection, digital rights, healthcare affordability, and inequality mitigation measures.

Second, increased data availability has allowed us to strengthen the IIAG. Ninety per cent of the indicators composing the Index are now clustered, therefore based on more than one single source or variable. The new framework, grouping 79 indicators under 16 sub-categories and four main categories, has also become more balanced. 

Last, but not least, our new Index will now specifically highlight Africa’s citizens’ voices, with the completely new section Citizens’ Voices. Governance assessment cannot rely solely on official and expert data. Citizens are the chief beneficiaries of public governance, and their perceptions of various governance dimensions are key.  More and more, Africa’s citizens, especially the young generation which now represents its vast majority, are rising up and articulating their demands for better governance. See for example the current End SARS protests in Nigeria, or the peaceful civil protests that efficiently led to regime change in Sudan and Algeria. We have been including Afrobarometer public perception data in several IIAG iterations, but the new revised framework will give it a specific prominence. This new Citizens’ Voices section will highlight citizens’ perception of various governance dimensions , providing a comprehensive ‘reality check’ to complement the IIAG results. 

We will launch our new Ibrahim Index of African Governance on 16 November. Covering the decade 2010-2019, the 2020 IIAG will provide a full array of resources freely available and accessible to all: the complete dataset, its analytical tools such as the online and Excel data portals, and the accompanying IIAG Report. The findings will definitely highlight the multiple and growing governance challenges that confront Africa today. 

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