Gambia much improved in Mo Ibrahim’s 2019 Index for African Governance

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By Yusef Taylor, @FlexDan_YT

Every year the Mo Ibrahim Foundation for African Governance Report ranks African countries in various categories and hands out prizes to African leaders in an effort to promote and monitor good governance in Africa. The last winner of the Mo Ibrahim Prize was Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf who last won it in 2017, since then no African leader won the prize last year, sparking deep reflection across the African continent on Good Governance.

This is what the Mo Ibrahim Foundation said about their 2017 Laureate “in very difficult circumstances, she helped guide her nation towards a peaceful and democratic future, paving the way for her successor to follow.” Together with other West African Leaders in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) she helped spearhead negotiations which compelled a reluctant President Yahya Jammeh to vacate State House after loosing elections in December 2016.

Many Gambians would remember the key role she played in The Gambia, the effect of her leadership resonated across the country when ex-President Jammeh called her and televised their conversation on the state broadcaster without her consent. Nonetheless, she held her own and did not succumb to President Jammeh’s unusually polite requests. After this breach of trust made international news, she stayed calm and together with the ECOWAS sent ECOMIG and Senegalese troops to ensure a peaceful transition of power in the Gambia in January 2017.

You can download the entire report from the Official Mo Ibrahim website here.

It’s important to note that data used in the publication of this 2019 report is based off data for the years 2014 to 2017 as can be seen at the top of each data sheet. Take the figure above for example which demonstrates that The Gambia’s Statistical Capacity has declined from 2014 to 2017 and is in the range of 0 to -5. The data highlights that The Gambia’s statistical capacity trend has improved more than 14 countries, however, 36 other countries have improved more than The Gambia.

The African average, highlighted in Yellow is on the increase (range 0 to +3) meaning that most of Africa is improving and that The Gambia needs to catch up. It must be noted that the data shows trends so even though Gambia is shown to have a better trend than other countries those countries could have better actual scores and lower trends. Such countries would still rank lower than The Gambia. The reverse could also be true, i.e. countries with lower actual scores could rank above The Gambia if their trend shows an increase.

The Bad News

I hate to be the bearer of bad news but the first mention of The Gambia in the report is a negative one, however, overall there are much more positives to take away from the report for The Gambia. I’m sure this will please a lot of Government Officials. The executive summary mentions this about The Gambia’s Sanitation ranking.

“DRC, Gambia, Madagascar and Nigeria have all deteriorated since 2014 in IIAG’s Access to Sanitation indicator.”

African average trends since 2014 in IIAG Health indicators

The second lowest African average score is in Access to Sanitation, albeit a slight improvement since 2014 of +0.6, with 40 countries registering improvement. Ethiopia (+2.3), Sudan (+2.1) and Lesotho (+1.9) are the most improved. Only four countries show decline: Gambia (-0.3), Nigeria (-0.2), Madagascar (-0.1) and DRC (-0.1). 10 countries show no change.”

African average trends since 2014 in IIAG Infrastructure sub-category

Since 2014, Guinea (+18.6), Zimbabwe (+13.9) and Cameroon (+6.9) are the most improved countries in this indicator, while Mauritania (-16.3), Tanzania (-4.7) and Gambia (-4.7) have seen the biggest deteriorations.”

The Good News

There is a lot more good news for The Gambia in this report than bad news. There are at least five categories in which the Gambia is mentioned favourably in contrast to the two negative mentions which all occur in the health sector.

The biggest category winners for The Gambia are the Education Sector, Gender, the Rule of Law, Transparency and Accountability and National Security. At this stage I must remind our readers that these indicators measure trends from 2014 to 2017 and it is our hope that the 2019 scores show a genuine improvement, however, some of the improvements mentioned rank The Gambia and Morocco as joint highest in Transparency and Accountability.

Across Africa The Gambia is second highest for Absence of Corruption in Government Branches and Accountability of Government & Public Employees. Considering that the data is covering 2014 to 2017 a period in which the Gambia transitioned from Dictatorship, this could have a huge impact in data showing huge increments in good governance. It will be interesting to see if that trend of improvement continues into 2018 and 2019.

African average trends since 2014 in IIAG Gender indicators

The 2017 African average score for Gender Parity in Primary & Lower Secondary School is 64.8 and the continent on average improved by +1.2 since the start of the implementation of Agenda 2063 in 2014. 23 countries have experienced an increase in score with DRC (+14.5), Gambia (+8.2) and Burkina Faso (+5.2) making the most progress. The scores of ten countries have dropped and Rwanda (-5.6), Liberia (-3.1) and Mali (-2.5) have fallen behind the most on this indicator.”

African average trends since 2014 in IIAG Education indicators

Of the 48 countries with data during the period 2014-2017, only 14 have experienced a deterioration, the largest in Burundi, Liberia and Sierra Leone, (-6.8, -4.5 and -3.5, respectively). 23 countries improved, the largest improvements are those of Gambia, Mali and Malawi (+6.8, +3.8 and +3.6, respectively).”

African average trends since 2014 in IIAG Rule of Law indicators

Independence of the Judiciary has seen the second-largest improvement (+2.2) between 2014 and 2017, with the annual rate of progress being more than double the rate between 2008 and 2017 (+0.73 compared to +0.29 for the whole time-series). It receives its highest African average score of 43.8 over the time-series in 2017 but nevertheless remains the second-lowest scoring Rule of Law indicator. 30 countries have improved their Independence of the Judiciary score since 2014, while 22 have seen a decline. Gambia (+39.4) has made the biggest leaps, followed by Guinea-Bissau (+19.2) and Central African Republic (+15.4). In contrast, Botswana (-15.6), Djibouti (-12.2) and DRC (-11.4) deteriorated the most.”

African average trends since 2014 in IIAG Transparency & Accountability indicators

Most progress was made on the two indicators related to transparency. Due to gaining +4.7 points since 2014, the African average score of Access to Public & Legislative Information stands at 31.5 in 2017, the highest score over the ten-year time frame (2008- 2017), but still a low one. 22 countries have improved their score, while 12 deteriorated and 20 have not seen any change. Gambia and Morocco made the biggest progress (+41.7 each), followed by Côte d’Ivoire and Madagascar (+33.3 each). Tunisia (-29.2), Swaziland (-29.2) and Zambia (-25.0) declined the most.

Notable progress has also been made in Absence of Corruption in Government Branches, in which the continent on average gained +2.5 points, resulting in its highest average score of 46.3 over the ten-year time frame in 2017. 33 countries, at the forefront Gambia (+38.6), Benin (+16.5) and Nigeria (+14.7), have seen an increase in score while 20 deteriorated, with Zambia (-13.4), Burundi (-9.1) and Burkina Faso (-5.2) falling the most.

The African average score for Absence of Favouritism stands at 32.1 in 2017, due to a decline of -0.5 since 2014. 16 countries have seen an increase, mostly Guinea (+24.1), Gambia (+16.8) and Ethiopia (+11.8), while 23 declined with Libya’s, Mauritius’s and Zambia’s scores dropping the most (-25.0, -22.4, -10.9, respectively).

Accountability of Government & Public Employees has its highest African average score (48.2) over the ten-year time frame in 2017 due to an improvement of +1.5 between 2014 and 2017 when progress happened at around twice the pace as that seen over the ten years of data in the IIAG (2008-2017). Egypt (+31.7), Gambia (+18.1) and Central African Republic (+14.5) are the top three of the 29 countries that have improved since 2014, while of the 24 countries that have seen a decline in score, Comoros (-17.5), Burundi (-10.1) and Zambia (-4.9) have fallen back the most.”

African average trends since 2014 in IIAG National Security indicators

Accountability of Government & Public Employees has its highest African average score (48.2) over the ten-year time frame in 2017 due to an improvement of +1.5 between 2014 and 2017 when progress happened at around twice the pace as that seen over the ten years of data in the IIAG (2008-2017). Egypt (+31.7), Gambia (+18.1) and Central African Republic (+14.5) are the top three of the 29 countries that have improved since 2014, while of the 24 countries that have seen a decline in score, Comoros (-17.5), Burundi (-10.1) and Zambia (-4.9) have fallen back the most.”

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