Africa: Mo Ibrahim Foundation Names Cameroon, Guinea-Conakry Among Worst African Countries on Governance

The absence of good governance practices has been identified as a major impediment to the development and prosperity of several countries on the African continent, despite sustained efforts by multiple organizations and blocks to change the way of doing things. The continent is still home to some of the poorest countries on Planet Earth, even as it is common knowledge that these nations possess natural resources with the potential to make them not just rich, but extremely wealthy.

In its 2019 report on the state of governance in Africa, the Mo Ibrahim Foundation noted that 87% of Africans are not satisfied with governance in their countries. The statistics got through a sister organization known as “Voix des Citoyens” make clear citizens on the continent are still to have a good perception of their governments in terms of delivering the kinds of services and development required to move Africa out of underdevelopment and dependency.

The report found that only eight out of 54 countries had made some progress as per the four dimensions under which the evaluations were made to establish the perception index. In this light, Angola, Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Seychelles, Chad, Togo, Madagascar and Sudan were deemed to have improved their approach at managing public affairs, by promoting policies that encouraged public participation in determining their own development priorities.


Guinea-Conakry President, Alpha Conde (C) The Guardian

On the flip side of the coin, a bulk of the countries, with the topmost being Cameroon, Mali, Algeria and Guinea-Conakry were picked out as having retrogressed beyond proportions, leading to either the outbreak of or the multiplication of conflict zones in several parts of their territories. In these countries, the Mo Ibrahim Foundation noted that fundamental freedoms like freedom of expression and of the press, political dissent, free assembly, and the right to peaceful public demonstration were brutally repressed.

In Cameroon, for example the rule of law and the observance of individual liberties and political freedom were deeply suppressed and replaced by the victimization of political dissent, repression of public activism, arbitrary arrests and detention without trial for long periods as well as extrajudicial killings of unarmed civilians.

The Mo Ibrahim Foundation made recourse to four governance dimensions and their respective sub-dimensions to make an informed evaluation of the public administration practices in 38 of Africa’s 54 countries. These pillars ranged from safety and rule of law through participation and human rights, and sustainable economic opportunity to human development.

Under safety and rule of law, the organization examined the extent to which each country respected enacted laws, the level of transparency and accountability in the management of state affairs, the degree of respect of personal and individual liberties and the depth of national security. These drivers created room for the researchers to better understand the discrepancies that exist between what the laws say and the actions of those in positions of power.


The promotion of good governance practice in Angola can be felt directly in the multi-sector development the country is witnessing (C) Pinterest

The participation and human rights dimension focused on participation in political and other public affairs by citizens and measured the extent to which their opinions were considered. It also examined the attention paid to the respect of human rights and efforts made to foster gender equality in the countries under study. The respect for the rights of humans and the inherent dignity accorded to the nationals in each country came under thorough scrutiny and at this level, most countries on the continent failed the test.   

The third area of analysis was sustainable economic opportunity. Within this framework, the experts looked at the countries’ orientation at public management, they studied the business environments to establish if they were favourable to all nature of investment, available infrastructure that could influence the decisions of entities to invest there and then the rural sector. This driver is intrinsically linked to the rule of law dimension because where there is no respect for the rule of law, businesses cannot thrive, and foreign direct investments that drive sustainable economic growth with job creation would be rare to come by.

The fourth and last dimension concerned human development, and it turned around general welfare of the people, access to, and the kind of education dispensed and access to health facilities. This fourth pillar gave room for the researchers to assess the degree to which the people were placed at the centre of government efforts and how much attention low-income segments of the societies received.

In the end, the Mo Foundation urged greater vigilance and rigour by African heads of state in the management of state affairs. It recommended greater transparency and accountability, improved participation of the people in the management of their own affairs and the promotion of the rule of law, the creation of attractive investment climates as necessary moves that would lead the continent towards economic emergence.