…but they are still held back by war and violence
IN MANY ways the story of Africa in the 21st century is one of success. Great strides have been made tackling diseases such as HIV/AIDS and malaria. A baby born in Africa today is less likely to die young, and more likely to go to school than one born in 2000. Life expectancy at birth increased by nearly ten years, to 60, between 2000 and 2015. But many Africans also feel less secure than they did a decade ago. Civil wars and social unrest have proliferated, according to an index of how Africa’s leaders are performing.
The Ibrahim Index of Governance, produced by the foundation of Mo Ibrahim, a Sudanese-British telecoms-billionaire-turned-philanthropist, has been trying to quantify how well countries are run since 2007. It is an ambitious effort involving 100 indicators of such things as political participation, respect for human rights and sound economic management. The latest data, released on November 20th, show a worrying divergence. Of the 26 indicators related to health, welfare and education, 21 have improved over the past decade. But 18 out of the 26 measures of safety, stability and the rule of law have deteriorated.
Civil wars in several countries, such as Libya, South Sudan and the Central African Republic, drag down the numbers. At the other end of the spectrum, improvements in health, education and social services were led by Rwanda, Ethiopia and Togo. In 28 countries development indicators improved, while security indicators deteriorated.
Overall, instability on the continent has increased. But optimists will note that the trend has slowed in the past five years. Meanwhile, most of Africa’s children are healthier and better educated than ever. That is undoubtedly cause for cheer.