The World Bank’s 2008 political report on the political state of Africa is out.
The report suggests that Africa’s economic policies are improving, economies are growing faster, the region is more politically stable and governance is getting better. These assertions are rather audacious given the uneasy political calm in Kenya following a chilling wave of post election turmoil and the discredited poll in Zimbabwe.
But the regional figure for government effectiveness has deteriorated some 17%, as has regulatory quality and the control of corruption. Africa's performance as regards rule of law has barely changed since 1996.
The report however notes that African aggregate indicators worsened some 7.6% between 1996, when the governance indicators were first compiled, and 2000. There has been a modest improvement since then, but the total index is still 5% lower now than in 1996.
Country performances are varied. Most of those in the top ten have made handsome gains since 1996, although Benin and to a lesser extent Namibia, Tunisia and Lesotho have all lost ground. Similarly, governance has deteriorated, usually substantially, in most of the poorest-performing countries. The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Sudan are reported to have made some headway although it is not clear exactly how,
The resource curse plays out. The more endowed a country is in terms of natural resources, the worse its governance ranking. However there are exceptions, such as Botswana and Namibia-both in the African top five in terms of governance performance-, but most resource-rich countries are down the league table: the DRC, Sudan, Chad, Equatorial Guinea, Congo (Brazzaville). Nigeria and Angola are all ranked between 34th and 46th in the World Bank's regional rankings.
The more resources a state has, the less likely it is for the ruling class to take governance reforms seriously. This observation is also supported by governance gains made by Liberia and Rwanda, two resource-poor countries emerging from political crises. For instance, they have certainly outperformed Angola, a resource-rich country whose governance record is deplorable.
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