African nations recorded the worst governance performance in 2019 for the first time in nearly a decade due to a widening deterioration in human rights, security, and rule of law, a survey published by the Ibrahim Index of African Governance (IIAG) indicates.

IIAG is the most comprehensive survey of its kind on the continent rating 54 African nations against criteria that includes human rights, economic stability, free elections, just laws, security, infrastructure, poverty, health, education and corruption.

Progress had already been slowing down since 2015. However, over the decade, overall governance performance has slightly progressed, and in 2019, 61.2% of Africa’s population lives in a country where Overall Governance is better than in 2010.

The report published by the foundation of Sudanese telecoms tycoon Mo Ibrahim said that the 2019 African average score for overall governance declined by -0.2 points from 2018, registering the first year-on-year score deterioration since 2010.

The Mo Ibrahim Foundation compiles the data in the aim of promoting better governance and economic development in Africa.

The report said that progress achieved over the past decade was mainly driven by improvements in economic opportunities and human development.

“This is threatened, however, by an increasingly precarious security situation and concerning erosion in rights as well as civic and democratic space,” it said.

The survey registered what it considered worrying declines in the areas of participation, rights and inclusion, and security and rule of law.

Top performing nations according to country rankings included Mauritius, Cape Verde and Seychelles with South Sudan, Eritrea and finally Equatorial Guinea rounding out the bottom of the classification.

Authors of the report say that while it provides a comprehensive picture of the period up to just before the continent was hit by the coronavirus pandemic, it can also help analyze which pre-existing weaknesses may have been exacerbated during the pandemic.

While Africa has been spared infections on a scale seen in many other regions, the virus has nonetheless highlighted gaps in African healthcare systems, it said, as well as triggering a major economic crisis.

“Furthermore, it has contributed to a declining democratic environment, increasing food insecurity, as well as instability and violence, including gender-based,” it said.

Across the region, Rwanda topped the rankings coming at position 11 in the continent with an overall rating of 60.5 and a positive change of +3.7 over the course of the decade. Kenya came second, at position 14 in Africa with an overall rating of 58.5 and an improvement of +3.7 in the last ten years.

Tanzania followed at position 19, with an overall grade of 53.0 and +0.2 improvement, Uganda ranked 22nd with an overall grade of 51.8 and +0.7 improvement in the decade.

Burundi came last at position 44 with its overall grade of 36.9 marking a drop of -3.6 in the last ten years. Much of it can be traced to the political instability that began after former president Pierre Nkurunziza announced his bid to vie for a third term in office, a move opposition critics and the European Union termed “unconstitutional”.

Gambia recorded the largest improvement over the 2010/19 period, thanks to the ousting of longtime dictator Yahya Jammeh in 2017, and Libya had the largest deterioration at -5.5 due to the removal of autocrat Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 and the subsequent civil war that ignited thereafter.

Despite Somalia sitting at the bottom of the ranking table at 54th position, it had the seventh largest improvement over ten years (+5.7) and the eighth largest improvement over five years (+2.6) in Overall Governance.

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