Kenya has made strides in overall governance, according to a new Africa report.
The report, however, reveals the country has deteriorated in security and rule of law, inclusion and equality, foundations for economic opportunity and human development.
According to the 2022 Ibrahim Index of African Governance, Kenya now ranks at position 13 on the continent, an improvement from position 18 in the 2020 report by the Mo Ibrahim Foundation.
The ranking is among the 35 countries that have recorded overall improvements in governance.
However, the country still needs to address human trafficking, and forced labour, crime levels, the impartiality of the judicial system, accessibility of public records, anti-corruption mechanisms and public procurement procedures.
Kenya also has its work cut out in ensuring that public administration is streamlined to allow for better civil registration, improving the capacity of the statistical system and mobilisation of tax and revenue collection.
According to the report, the country also needs to do better in regional integration, improve access to banking services, land and water, rural market and ensure equal rural representation and participation.
Overall, the report warns that Africa’s decade of progress may go down the drain due to failure of improvement.
The report, which is released after every two years, allows citizens, governments and institutions to assess the delivery of public goods and services and policy outcomes in Africa, details the latest available data on the African continent from 2012 to 2021, focusing on security and rule of law, participation, rights and inclusion, foundations for economic opportunity and human development.
It details that security and rule of law in Africa deteriorated almost four times between 2019 and 2021 compared to between 2012 and 2019.
Security and accountability, and transparency have also declined at a fast pace since 2019.
Participation, rights and inclusion have also deteriorated six times faster between 2019 and 2021 as compared to between 2012 and 2019.
“The most deteriorated indicators over the last three years are Freedom of Association and Assembly and Democratic Elections. While the pace of decline has accelerated for Freedom of Association and Assembly, the deterioration in Democratic Elections reverts the progress made between 2012 and 2019,” reads the report.
Even though the overall governance in Africa has improved since 2012, thanks to advances in human development and economic foundation, progress has been slow since 2019, partly due to worsening security and weaker democracy, unemployment, inefficient transport and poor energy infrastructure. Covid-19 also played a part in worsening “pre-existing deteriorations in security and democracy.
Out of the 54 African countries, 35 countries, improved their governance since 2012, with only 15 accelerating their progress between 2017 and 2021. The five countries with the highest improvement include Seychelles, Tunisia, Botswana, Mauritius, and Cape Verde, with the latter two deteriorating over the decade.
Twenty-two countries however decreased their score since 2017 including South Sudan, and the Central African Republic. Even though Somalia, Eritrea and Equatorial Guinea were ranked with the lowest score, they have improved their score over the decade.
“Improvement in Overall Governance over the decade has been driven by Human Development, the most improved of the four categories, and Foundations for Economic Opportunity. For Human Development, the main drivers of progress over the decade have been Health and Sustainable Environment The improved performance for Foundations for Economic Opportunity since 2012 has been driven most notably by Infrastructure, which has been the continent’s most improved sub-category since 2012, though it remains the lowest scoring,” says the report
“In both Security & Rule of Law and Participation, Rights & Inclusion, more than half of African countries have deteriorated over the last 10 years – with the decline accelerating in at least 20 countries since 2017 The deterioration in the security environment has been driven by a rise in violence against civilians and in armed conflicts,” it adds.
Commenting on the report, Mo Ibrahim, Founder and Chair of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, said that Africa needs to urgently address the negative trend, lest it dilutes the progress that has been achieved. The negative trend, he said, could also hinder the continent from achieving Agenda 2063.
“Our continent is uniquely exposed to the converging impacts of climate change, more recently Covid-19, and now the indirect impact of the Russia-Ukraine war. Governments must address all at once the ongoing lack of prospects for our growing youth, worsening food insecurity, lack of access to energy for almost half the continent’s population, heavier debt burden, and growing domestic unrest. Coups are back, and democratic backsliding spreading. These are challenging times. More than ever, commitment to strengthening governance must be renewed unless we lose all progress achieved,” he said.
“The 2022 Ibrahim Index of African Governance highlights a stagnation of African governance since 2019, which should be a cause of concern for us all. We have come too far to let the disruptions of the last few years derail our ambitions and unless we quickly address this concerning trend, years of progress could be lost, and Africa might not be able to achieve the African Union’s Agenda 2063 or the UN Sustainable Development Goals,” he added.
For his part, Dr Abdoulie Janneh, MIF Board Member, and IIAG Advisory Council Chair explained that the Covid-19 pandemic heavily impacted the socio-economic performance of African countries, and the psychological health of its people.
“I believe that the COVID-19 pandemic has been the biggest challenge that Africa has faced in the past several decades which has impacted severely on the socio-economic performance of our various countries with the severe psychological impact on our people. In this respect, I believe that the IIAG Report has adequately captured these challenges and will provide the adequate capacity for African Governments, leaders and their partners to formulate their relevant responses and policy reforms enabling them to continue to take the necessary actions to deal with the continued COVID-19 challenge,” he explained.