, NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 24 – As President Uhuru Kenyatta prepares to take his oath of office for a second term on Tuesday, the 2017 Ibrahim Index of African Governance couldn’t be better timed as it tracks not only the past decade in governance, but the last five years when he’s been at the helm.
Overall, Kenya ranks 13th in governance out of the 54 countries in Africa scoring a 59.3 out of 100, above the continental average of 50.8 and regional average of 45.2.
“Kenya is one of the only countries in the index of the 54 countries that shows progress on every single category,” Mo Ibrahim Foundation board member and former US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Jendayi Frazer broke down in an exclusive interview with Capital FM News.
In the region, Rwanda is the highest ranked coming in at ninth place with Tanzania and Uganda coming in at 17th and 19th place respectively.
Neighbouring countries South Sudan and Somalia bring up the rear at 53rd and last place respectively. Mauritius comes in at first place with a score of 81.4 followed by followed by Seychelles at 73.4.
The governance performance of the 54 countries is assessed using indices that fall under the four broad categories as mentioned by mentioned by Frazer. They are: Safety and Rule of Law, Participation and Human Rights, Sustainable Economic Opportunity and lastly, Human Development.
Human Development, which covers Welfare, Education and Health, might come last on the list but it is the best performing category with all three sub-categories, improving over the last 10 years.
That said, Frazer points out: “One of the indicators also looks at perceptions and many people feel that they are not getting sufficient education for their children.”
Or put another way by the Foundation, “Worryingly, in a continent where 41 per cent of the population is under 15 years old, progress in Education has nearly ground to halt. Africans are particularly dissatisfied with how governments are addressing changing educational needs.”
And while the Foundation views the Index as telling a positive story, there is concern that Africa’s annual average rate of improvement in overall governance has slowed despite scoring its highest score to date, 50.8.
Prompting calls for vigilance from Mo Ibrahim, “As the index shows us, overall governance in Africa is improving. This is good news. However, the slowing and in some cases even reversing trends in a large number of countries, and in some key dimensions of governance, means that we must be vigilant. Without vigilance and sustained efforts, the progress of recent years could be in danger of vanishing.”
Case in point, Rwanda and Ethiopia whose pace of improvement has slowed in the last five years.
“Rwanda is a very small country, I think the decline is partly a contraction of the economy and I think that really Rwanda has to push its neighbours to really embrace the idea of the regional economic block and community because it’s always going to be constrained as long as it’s dealing with the economy of the size that it has, it needs more people and it needs bigger markets,” Frazer weighed in.
– Sustainable Economic Opportunity –
In Kenya’s case, the index reflects President Kenyatta’s efforts on improving the ease of doing business, with the investment climate showing accelerated improvement in the last five years.
Competition, business bureaucracy and red tape as well as customs procedures all show accelerated improvement with it having been a priority of President Kenyatta’s administration. This was in a bid to seal off avenues of corruption by bringing government services under one roof by way of the Huduma Centres with plans to provide a ‘one–stop shop’ for entrepreneurs, at an advanced stage.
Employment creation is also shown to have accelerated in the last five years with the pillar of Jubilee’s manifesto going into its second term, being employment creation.
The index also shows accelerated improvement in the last five years in the transparency of State–owned companies. President Kenyatta having commissioned and effected a new code of governance for State corporations titled Mwongozo.
The Index also shows increased improvement in electricity infrastructure with the last mile connectivity project having been an area of focus in President Kenyatta’s first term.
The Soundness of Banks and Rural Business Climate indices however fall on the opposite end of the spectrum, shown to be worsening over the last five years.
“That means that there probably needs to be more infrastructure, there needs to be more job creation in the rural sector so everybody’s not crowding to the cities,” Frazer said of the poor showing, continent wide, in the rural sector and in banking.
Kenya’s fiscal policy is also shown to have declined in the last five years.
– Human Development –
As with the rest of the continent, Kenya made the strongest showing in this category with a score of 67.1 out of 100.
The red flags as it were, affect education quality, Secondary School Enrolment and Tertiary Education Enrolment in the Education sub-category.
It is however worth mentioning that as of January next year, President Kenyatta’s administration plans to roll out free secondary education and made efforts toward elevating technical training.
It has also pioneered the popularly known ‘laptop project’ in an effort to position the Kenyan educated more competitively globally.
Given the protracted industrial action by health professionals during his first term, it is perhaps indicative that immunisation is shown to have deteriorated in the last five years.
– Participation and Human Rights –
Of the four categories, Kenya performs poorest in the area of Participation and Human rights, which covers Civil Society Participation, Human Rights Conventions, Freedom of Expression, Association and Assembly.
All of which have been shown to have worsened in the last five years. In Frazer’s opinion, “If a government is confident in its delivery to its population, I don’t see why it should be so concerned about the activities of civil society groups.”
That said, she did however take the view that there has to be a clear separating line between the interests of civil society groups and political parties.
“One of the things Mo Ibrahim says all the time is that the problem is when you have civil society groups that are really political parties in the disguise of civil society groups, they make it bad for all other civil society groups and governance groups,” she said.
The thorn in Kenya’s side however remains corruption with the index showing a five–year decline.
This is despite President Kenyatta standing down those of his Cabinet Secretaries under investigation by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission and the launch of a corruption reporting website, in the course of his first term.
He went on to blame the system for the failure of his administration on this front.