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Mo Ibrahim defends Africa governance index

Sudanese-born billionaire Mo Ibrahim has defended his annual African governance index, saying that it was not meant to embarrass bad leaders but to challenge them to improve the conditions on the continent.

Dr Ibrahim said it was important for the region to evaluate the performance of its leaders and hold them accountable for their decisions.

« [The] Mo Ibrahim Index is not to shame or blame, but to shed light on the state of the continent. It’s a good tool for governance, » he said at a high-profile event on the sidelines the annual meetings of the African Development Bank (AfDB) in Marrakech, Morocco.

« There is a similarity in CEO’s and leaders, they need to deliver to shareholders, in this case shareholders are the people. »

The much-watched Ibrahim Index of African Governance is released every October and usually generates a lot of heat.

At the launch of the last edition, Dr Ibrahim asked Zimbabwe to « get its act together » with the hope that it « would somehow rise again ».

The index evaluates leaders under four specific areas : human development, the rule of law, political participation and human rights and sustainable economic opportunity.

Over the last few years, human development has been the best performing category while participation and human rights fared worst.

Policy makers

However, the billionaire magnate said that there was a lack of general information and accused African governments of not investing in statistical offices.

« It is time to take ownership of our own data. It is time to be scientific about the way African countries are moving forward. The economic growth story needs to be transformed, » Dr Ibrahim said.

Running a country without information was like running a country while blind, he added at the event themed The critical role of leadership and governance for Africa’s transformation and co-hosted by the Mo Ibrahim Foundation (MIF) and AfDB.

The Foundation’s Dr Abdoulie Janneh said governments needed to have national data pools that were accessible to investors and other interested players.

Of all data sources used in the compilation of the Index, only two were African : The African Development Bank and The Centre for Democratic Development – Ghana, he said.

The availability of accurate data would not only help in planning for policy makers in Africa, it could also ensure greater transparency and paint a clearer picture of whether the economic growth that Africa has been experiencing the last few years is reflected on the ground, the meeting heard.

Dr Janneh said a combination of weak governance and unemployment had led to the North African upheaval, hence the need to highlight the conduct of African leaders rather than just their stewardship of the economy.

Weak leadership was actually undermining the progress of fast growing African countries, he said.

Publié le 31 mai 2013