- Botswana sees a decline in security and rule of law
- African governments found to be less accountable
- Global geopolitics add to the continent’s woes
- “The resulting economic pain has left millions struggling to cope and could stir unrest”
The 2022 Ibrahim Index of African Governance (IIAG) has highlighted a stagnation of African governance since 2019, which it describes as a cause for concern.
The Index, whose results were published this week, says the main driver of this stagnation is deterioration in the Security & Rule of Law, Participation, and Rights & Inclusion index categories due to an increase in armed conflicts, violence against civilians, and democratic backsliding across growing parts of the continent.
While acknowledging that these trends predate the pandemic, the IIAG highlights that the introduction of restrictive measures and emergency provisions to address COVID-19 and its fallout have exacerbated existing challenges by accelerating a decline in democratic practices, clamping down on dissent, shrinking the civic space and avoiding democratic scrutiny.
In the latest index, Botswana is ranked fifth out of 54 countries covered, coming behind Mauritius, Seychelles, Tunisia, and Cabo Verde. The index measures the overall governance of the countries based on four indicators, namely Security & Rule of Law; Participation, Rights & Inclusion; Foundations for Economic Opportunity; and Human Development.
Notably, the Index has found that Security & Rule of Law is the fastest-declining IIAG category. According to the report, the trajectory of Security & Rule of Law has hindered governance progress over the decade. “Almost 70 percent of Africa’s population lives in a country where the security and rule of law environment is worse in 2021 than in 2012, mostly driven by a worsening security situation,” it states.
Compared to 10 years ago, it has been found that levels of violence against civilians and armed conflicts are much higher. For instance, there have been 23 successful and attempted coups on the African continent since 2012. This disturbing situation has worsened with the advent of COVID-19 – with the pace of decline in key security-related indicators accelerating between 2019 and 2021.
The report further proclaims that 12 African countries have declined in all four underlying sub-categories of Security & Rule of Law since 2012, including three of the five highest-scoring countries: Botswana (3rd), Cabo Verde (4th), and Namibia (5th). Still under the Security & Rule of Law, it has been established that accountability and transparency have declined. “Governments are less accountable and transparent in 2021 than at any time over the last 10 years,” the reports says.
Significantly, the Index has established that the global environment has added to African states’ challenges. “Russia’s all-out invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 came just as many African countries were charting a path toward recovery following the economic slowdowns triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic,” the Index notes. It says the invasion – as well as the sanctions and other counter-measures that the West has imposed to punish Russia – have sent commodity prices soaring, notably those of food, fuel and farm inputs. “The resulting economic pain has left millions struggling to cope and could stir unrest,” it warns starkly.
The Index also notes that climatic shocks, meanwhile, are now one of the leading causes of displacement and economic dislocation on the continent and may create new conflict risks. “Against this backdrop, it is hardly surprising that the latest Ibrahim Index of African Governance Report makes for sobering reading, particularly when it comes to metrics that look at safety and security.”
With conflict on the rise across the continent, the Index reflects that 70 percent of Africa’s population lives in a country where the security and rule of law environment has worsened in the decade since 2012. “This figure partly reflects a lamentable decline in accountability and transparency, but the biggest dropp-off over the past 10 years came in the Index’s Security & Safety sub-category,” it says.