The 2022 Ibrahim Index of African Governance highlights that African governance has flatlined since 2019. Unless we quickly address this concerning trend, the years of progress we have witnessed could be lost, and Africa will be unable to reach in due time the SDGs or Agenda 2063.
~Mo Ibrahim, Founder and Chair, Mo Ibrahim Foundation
Despite a marginal improvement over the past decade (2012-2021), the 2022 Ibrahim Index of African Governance (IIAG) shows that progress towards governance in Africa has been unequal. Improvements in human development and economic opportunity since 2012 have been undermined by an increasingly perilous security situation and widespread democratic backsliding.
Since the advent of COVID-19 on the continent, governance progress has come to a complete stall – exacerbating the negative trends in security and democracy and laying bare the weaknesses of Africa’s health and education systems. With Africa uniquely exposed to the converging impacts of non-African-born crises such as COVID-19, climate change, and the fallout of the Russia-Ukraine war, these trends are even more concerning. If stalling governance and imbalances are not addressed, then years of improvement could be lost.
More than half of Africa’s population live in a country where governance has improved between 2012 and 2021, primarily because of stronger economic foundations and year-on-year improvements in human development. Public services such as health and education are better now than in 2012. Social protections are more extensive, decent housing is on the rise, and governments have made strides in environmental sustainability. Despite the seismic economic shock of COVID-19, economic foundations have continued to improve. More people in Africa have access to digital devices and banking services now than ever. Governments have increased their statistical capacity and civil registration systems are timelier and more accessible.
Some progress, but challenges remain
But even in these areas of progress, there is still a long way to go. For most African countries huge challenges remain in areas such as job creation or transport infrastructure. Moreover, Africa still faces the great challenge of energy access, with roughly 600 million people on the continent without electricity.
Crucially, the state of growing insecurity and democratic backsliding is a cause for concern. Almost 70% of Africa’s population live in a country where the security situation is worse now than in 2012. Levels of violence against civilians and armed conflicts are much higher than in 2012. Many governments have been increasingly willing to infringe on rights, curb freedom of expression, and impose restrictions on civic space. This concerning situation has only worsened with the advent of COVID-19, with elections being postponed and some governments using the virus as an excuse to clamp down on dissent.
African governments must not let positive governance progress in development-based indicators and the economy be jeopardised by a simultaneous deterioration in security, rights, or the democratic space. This trade-off is unsustainable. Unless this concerning trend is quickly addressed, Africa will be unable to realise the SDGs or Agenda 2063 in due time. More than ever, commitment to strengthening governance must be renewed.