Index of African Governance: Rwanda ranks 31st out of 53 countries
A rum old mix: From happy islands to the swamps of misery
ONCE again Africa’s worthiest and perhaps happiest countries, according to Mo Ibrahim’s latest measure of all-round governance, scrutinising data gathered for last year, are offshore. Mauritius is the runaway winner, followed by the Seychelles in second place and Cape Verde fourth. On the African mainland, Botswana, with the advantages of ethnic homogeneity, a small population, diamonds and good leaders, does best, in third place, with South Africa, by far the weightiest country in Africa, fifth. At the other end of the scale, the most wretched land is Somalia, with Chad, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zimbabwe competing for Africa’s wooden spoon.
There are no big changes in the pecking order. The yardsticks applied by Mr Ibrahim, a Sudanese-born British telecoms magnate and philanthropist, judge countries on a mix of four main criteria:
– “safety and the rule of law” (looking at the murder rate and corruption, among other things);
– “participation and human rights” (that little matter of being able peacefully to chuck out a bad government);
– “sustainable economic opportunity” (including such things as fiscal management, free markets and inflation);
– and “human development” (in essence, education and health care).
Some countries do surprisingly well despite their lack of democracy. Tunisia, which is run by a dictator but gives its people a decent life in other respects, comes eighth; Libya, which has one of the nastiest human-rights records in Africa but gives its people loads of welfare, is a respectable 23rd. Others, despite wealth and civil vibrancy, do notably badly. Nigeria is down in 40th place and Angola, though it oozes oil, comes a dismal 43rd.
Two countries favoured by many development buffs, Rwanda and Ethiopia, do badly because of their deteriorating human-rights records: Rwanda is in 31st place and Ethiopia in 34th.
In regional and religious terms, it may be noted that Muslim and Maghreb countries do badly on the democracy and human-rights index. Green-minded advocates also think Mr Ibrahim should think of applying a new criterion for managing natural resources and tackling climate change. Urban planning and innovation could also usefully be measured. Particularly pleasing, for Mr Ibrahim and for Africa’s well-wishers at large, is that governments across the continent are taking the table seriously. There is nothing like a bit of naming, shaming and praising.