The Mo Ibrahim Foundation’s 2018 Ibrahim Index of African Governance has revealed that citizens’ and civic space is shrinking on the continent.

And the Index has also found that African governance progress is lagging behind needs and expectations of a growing population.

Meanwhile, the Index shows that, among African countries, those with the most striking progress in overall governance performance are Côte d’Ivoire, Morocco and Kenya.

Announcing the launch of the Index in a statement, Monday, the Mo Ibrahim Foundation noted that civil society participation in African countries had also recorded negative trends.

“The 2018 Ibrahim Index of African Governance (IIAG), launched today by the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, highlights that public governance progress in Africa is lagging behind the needs and expectations of a growing population, composed mainly of young people. Over the last decade, Overall Governance has on average maintained a moderate upward trajectory, with three out of four of Africa’s citizens (71.6 per cent) living in a country where governance has improved,” read the statement.

“Progress in Participation & Human Rights has been made on average. Almost four out of five of Africa’s citizens (79.6%) live in countries that have progressed in this dimension over the last decade. However, ‘free and fair’ executive elections do not always translate into a better participatory environment. Alarmingly, citizens’ political and civic space in Africa is shrinking, with worsening trends in indicators measuring Civil Society Participation, Civil Rights & Liberties, Freedom of Expression and Freedom of Association & Assembly.”

The Index also showed that African governments had struggled to translate economic growth into improved Sustainable Economic Opportunity for their citizens.

“Since 2008, the African average score for Sustainable Economic Opportunity has increased by 0.1 point, or 0.2 per cent, despite a continental increase in GDP of nearly 40 per cent over the same period. There has been virtually no progress in creating Sustainable Economic Opportunity, meaning it remains the IIAG’s worst performing and slowest improving category. Defined as the extent to which governments enable their citizens to pursue economic goals and prosper, the almost stagnant Sustainable Economic Opportunity trend strikes a concerning contrast with demographic growth and youth expectations. Africa’s population has increased by 26.0 per cent over the last 10 years and 60 per cent of the continent’s 1.25 billion people are now under the age of 25,” the Mo Ibrahim Foundation stated.

And the Index showed that, among African countries, those with the most striking progress in overall governance performance were Côte d’Ivoire, Morocco and Kenya.

“African countries show increasing divergence in Overall Governance performance. Continental progress is mainly driven by 15 countries that have managed to accelerate their pace of improvement over the last five years. Progress is most striking in Côte d’Ivoire, Morocco and Kenya. Divergence is also reflected in Sustainable Economic Opportunity trends. While 27 of Africa’s countries have shown some improvement, in 25 countries, accounting for 43.2 per cent of Africa’s citizens, Sustainable Economic Opportunity performance has declined over the last 10 years,” read the statement.

“There is no strong relationship between the size of a country’s economy and its performance in Sustainable Economic Opportunity. In 2017, four of the 10 countries with the highest GDP on the continent score below the African average score for Sustainable Economic Opportunity and sit in the lower half of the rankings, namely: Algeria, Angola, Nigeria, and Sudan. Meanwhile, two of the smallest economies on the continent, Seychelles and Cabo Verde, reach the 5th and 6th highest scores in providing Sustainable Economic Opportunity for their citizens.”

Meanwhile, the Index noted some progress in rule of law, transparency and sound governance performance.

“Although Personal Safety and National Security continue to show average decline over the last decade, Rule of Law and Transparency & Accountability have begun to register welcome progress. Rule of Law is the most improved sub-category in the IIAG over the last five years. African average performance in Transparency & Accountability has also improved, though more needs to be done as it remains the worst performing sub-category,” read the statement.

“The IIAG highlights that citizens’ rights and welfare are key to progress in public governance. Overall Governance scores are strongly correlated with citizen-centred measures, including property rights, civil rights & liberties, government accountability and social welfare policies. The IIAG results also confirm that Rule of Law and Transparency & Accountability are key pillars of good governance. These two sub-categories show the strongest relationships with Overall Governance scores in Africa, with strong performance in these areas being the most common components of countries that perform well. Transparency & Accountability is also strongly related to the Sustainable Economic Opportunity category and Business Environment sub-category, indicating that improvements in these areas will support progress and economic opportunity in Africa.”

Commenting on the 2018 Ibrahim Index of African Governance, Mo Ibrahim, Chair of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, said: “We welcome progress in Overall Governance, but the lost opportunity of the past decade is deeply concerning. Africa has a huge challenge ahead. Its large and youthful potential workforce could transform the continent for the better, but this opportunity is close to being squandered. The evidence is clear – young citizens of Africa need hope, prospects and opportunities. Its leaders need to speed up job creation to sustain progress and stave off deterioration. The time to act is now.”