Africa Security Said by Ibrahim to Lag Behind Development

Most African nations are failing to match developmental gains with improved security for their citizens, increasing the risk of social discord, a Mo Ibrahim Foundation study of governance on the continent found.

While an overall governance index has improved in 46 of 52 African countries since 2000, just 20 advanced when it came to safety and upholding the rule of law, the foundation said in an annual assessment released today. The London-based foundation was started in 2006 by Mo Ibrahim, 67, the billionaire founder of telecommunications company Celtel International BV.

Mauritius retained its position as Africa’s best-governed country last year in the 2013 Ibrahim Index of African Governance, which measures performance for 2012. Botswana was second, followed by Cape Verde, Seychelles and South Africa. Somalia scored the lowest, followed by the Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea, the Central African Republic and Chad. Ninety-four percent of people living in Africa now live in a country that has demonstrated overall governance improvement since 2000. Ibrahim said in his forward to the report.

While “the findings highlight widespread improvements across the continent,” Ibrahim wrote. “Average scores in the safety and rule of law category have declined. If this deterioration is not turned around it could signal an era where, despite fewer regional conflicts, we will see an increase in domestic social unrest.”

The assessment, released for the seventh consecutive year, uses data from 32 independent, external sources to gauge factors including the extent to which human rights and economic stability are upheld.

Fund Criteria

Africa-focused funds are increasingly incorporating the assessment into their investment decision-making process, as evidenced by its inclusion in Barclays Plc’s (BARC) latest emerging markets focus report, Elizabeth McGrath, the index’s director, said by phone from London.

Eighteen countries were accorded their best-ever index score for overall governance last year, with Liberia, Angola and Sierra Leone posting the biggest improvements. Conditions deteriorated most in Madagascar, Eritrea and Guinea Bissau.

A measure of human development on the continent rose an average 10.2 index points, while a gauge of sustainable economic opportunities gained 5.6 points and one for participation and human rights advanced 3.2 points. The measure for safety and the rule of law slid 1.1 points.

Decision-Making

Countries have become increasingly interested in their rankings, with officials from Rwanda, Senegal and Djibouti approaching the foundation to get a better understanding of how they can utilize the index in their decision-making, Sophie Masipa, the foundation’s head of communications, said by phone from London.

Ibrahim has also set up a $5 million prize for former African heads of state who have exhibited excellence in leadership. Previous winners include former Mozambican leader Joaquim Chissano and Botswana’s ex-president, Festus Mogae. The prize wasn’t awarded last year because the judges didn’t identify a suitable recipient. This year’s winner will be announced later today.

Sudanese-born Ibrahim started Celtel in 1998 and built it into Africa’s third-largest mobile phone company. Zain, Kuwait’s largest mobile-phone provider, previously known as Mobile Telecommunications Co., bought 85 percent of Celtel for $3.4 billion in 2005.

To contact the reporter on this story: Mike Cohen in Cape Town at mcohen21@bloomberg.net;

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Nasreen Seria at nseria@bloomberg.net

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