Africa taught the world a master class in revolution in 2011 with what has now come to be known as the Arab Spring.
It demonstrated the power of both the continent’s masses and its civil society with the revolutions that swept the Arab North. It was also the year when the continent’s potential for change shone brightly. Africa’s immense economic opportunities over which the Western world and the East desperately scramble, have become more evident, and the high number of democratic elections that took place suggests that there has been no despair in the quest for democracy.
The hopeful signs, however, should not blind anyone to the enormous challenges Africa faces — particularly the high price it pays for the lack of good leadership. While the continent had a record 19 elections, they were also an indicator of how easily progress can unravel. The 19 elections produced only seven newly elected leaders, and all the elections were marred by varying degrees of of irregularity.
Africa’s seeming inability to successfully transfer power without violence and mass controversy only points a finger at the poor, and often crooked, leadership which continues to plague the continent.
To compound the problem, the media is easily co-opted and controlled, making it quickly distrusted. Opposition groups are either fragmented or unwilling to participate in elections they know they will lose to state-sponsored rigging, and civil society’s opinion is often rendered redundant.
Nevertheless, there are a few gems. After a couple of years without a winner, the Mo Ibrahim Prize for good leadership was finally called back into action — Cape Verde’s former president, Pedro Pires, bagged the $5 million prize.
At Nation Media Group we feel we have a duty to the people of Africa to highlight the good, the bad and the ugly. Our Africa project staffer, SAMANTHA SPOONER, spent some time tracking reports of the political actions of Africa’s leaders in order to come up with our Second Annual African Leadership Scorecard.
With all the changes in government and revolutions, the 2011 index was going to be a tricky one. To maintain the broadness of the index, we continue to rely on a variety of measures to give a rounded evaluation of the leaders’ performance; the Mo Ibrahim Index of African governance, the Democracy Index, Freedom House’s Press Freedom Index, Transparency International’s Corruption Index and the United Nation’s Human Development Index. We then developed a Nation Media Group Index to complement the others that we chose. The final score on which the political leaders are judged is an average score of all these indices.
The Human Development Index was generally more positive in 2011. Also noteworthy is that although a large middle class is emerging in Africa, restrictions on freedom remain in place.
Finally, countries’ score for the year in review were heavily influenced by the Freedom of the Press Index and the Corruption Index. A strong bias in favour of media freedom and against corruption, means that there was a general downward negative trend in the 2011 results, compared with 2011 as governments were more controlling of the media – perhaps spooked by the Arab Spring.
Our methodology for the leaders’ scorecard
Leaders’ grades were derived from how they placed in five respected international indices of governance, plus the new NMG Political Index that we developed. Their scores in these indices were weighted, then combined to produce a score on a scale of 0-100. The best governors placed closest to 100, and the worst closest to 0. The scorecard heavily rewards consistency. If an African leader scores very highly in one or two areas, but poorly in the rest, he/she will end up with a dismal overall grade. A consistent score across the board, on the other hand, will place him/her highly in the overall standings. This is how the indices are weighted.
Mo Ibrahim Index – 15 per cent
Democracy Index – 15 per cent
Press Freedom Index – 15 per cent
Corruption Index – 15 per cent
Human Development Index – 5 per cent
NMG Political Index – 35 per cent
Leaders were assigned letter grades based on their 0-100 score, derived from the six indices. The best of the bunch received ‘A,’ good performers got ‘B,’ passable leaders got ‘C.’ Leaders who performed below standard received ‘D’ and ‘F.’ Due to the extraordinarily oppressive, violent and corrupt governance found in many countries on the continent, two special categories were added to these basic grades: the Intensive Care Unit and the Morgue. Leaders in this range represent the bottom of the barrel, and their countries will need intense rehabilitation to walk amongst the free and prosperous nations of the world.
40-30: Intensive Care Unit (ICU)
Mo Ibrahim Index
The Mo Ibrahim Index is the most comprehensive collection of qualitative and quantitative data that assesses governance in Africa. It measures the delivery of public goods and services to citizens and uses indicators across four main categories: Safety and Rule of Law; Participation and Human Rights; Sustainable Economic Opportunity; and Human Development.
Countries are scored between 0 and 100, where 100 is the best. The “rank” refers to their position in relation to other African countries, the best governed country takes 1st place, the worst 53rd.
The Democracy Index (2008) is compiled by ehe Economist Intelligence Unit and seeks to examine the state of democracy in various countries in the world. It focuses on five general categories: electoral process and pluralism, civil liberties, functioning of government, political participation and political culture.
Full democracies — scores of 8-10
Flawed democracies — scores of 6 to 7.9
Hybrid regimes — scores of 4 to 5.9
Authoritarian regimes — scores below 4
The rank refers to their position in relation to other countries worldwide, the most democratic take 1st place, the least take 167th.
Freedom of the Press Index
The Freedom of the Press Index is produced annually by the Freedom House advocacy group. The index provides a survey of media independence in 196 countries and territories. It assesses the degree of print, broadcast, and Internet freedom in every country in the world, analysing the events of each calendar year. It provides numerical rankings and rates each country’s media as “Free,” “Partly Free,” or “Not Free.”
Countries scoring 0-30 are regarded as having “Free” media; 31-60, “Partly Free” media; and 61-100, “Not Free” media
Transparency International’s well-respected Corruption Perceptions Index, ranks countries according to the perception of corruption in the public sector. It draws on different assessments and business opinion surveys carried out by independent and reputable institutions and compiles the index to include questions relating to bribery of public officials, kickbacks in public procurement, embezzlement of public funds, and questions that probe the strength and effectiveness of public sector anti-corruption efforts.
The scale is from 10 (highly clean) to 0 (highly corrupt). The rank refers to their position in relation to other countries worldwide, the most “clean” takes 1st place, the least takes 178th.
Human Development Index
The United Nation’s primary method of measuring development, the Human Development Index is a comparative measure of life expectancy, literacy, education, and standards of living for countries worldwide. It is a very detailed index used to distinguish whether the country is a developed, developing, or under-developed country, and also to measure the impact of economic policies on quality of life. Health is measured by life expectancy at birth; education or “knowledge” by a combination of the adult literacy rate and school enrolment rates (for primary through university years); and income or standard of living by purchasing-power-adjusted per capita Gross National Income (GNI); GNI includes remittances and foreign assistance income, for example, providing a more accurate economic picture of many developing countries.
High Human Development = 0.7 and above
Medium Human Development = 0. 0.450 to 0.699
Low Human Development = 0 to 0.449
The rank refers to their position in relation to other countries worldwide, the most developed will rank 1st place, the least developed will rank 169th.
NMG Political Index
The NMG Political Index is an evaluation of a leader’s performance, based on the editorial judgement of Nation journalists. It takes into account how a leader took power; whether they have extended or broken term limits; it also measures investment in infrastructure; food security; democratic space; creative public policy and effective of execution; globalisation initiatives; and the extent to which a leader invests in national building. Because it is so ambitious, it has the highest weighting.
10-9 = Outstanding performance
8-7 = Good performance
6-5-4 = Average performance
3-2 = Poor performance
1-0 = Truly appalling performance
Download the full report of The 2011 Africa Leadership Scorecard: A summary list of how African countries performed