Political and Economic Governance in Africa (2)

Participation is the area where governance gains have been the most obvious since 2009


Africa saw some major advances in democracy in 2014: the new constitution in Tunisia, the transition in Burkina Faso and a record 179 million people voting in mostly peaceful and credible elections in 12 countries. Several countries, however, continued to experience
instability, acts of terrorism or conflicts.


Expert analysis, governance indices and newspaper headlines all point to political participation, through elections or other means, as being the dimension that has most progressed since 2009.
Africans increasingly demand democracy: the Afrobarometer index of demand for democracy climbed 15 points in 16 countries surveyed, from 36% in 2002 to 51% in 2012. Seven out of ten Africans in 34 countries surveyed preferred democracy to “other kinds of government” by 2011-13. The demand for democracy is strongest in West Africa. And the extent of democracy is measured against the yardstick of elections, which Africans increasingly see as the best sign of a democratic regime. This surpasses other factors, such the performance of the president or the economic conditions in the country.
However, advances in the democratic process seem slower than what the public would expect. Only 53% of Africans interviewed across 24 countries consider their country a democracy, with this proportion reaching 70% or more in Botswana, Ghana, Mauritius and the United Republic of Tanzania but falling to 21% or less in Madagascar and Togo from 2011 to 2013. This means that a number of African countries experience what Afrobarometer calls a “deficit of democracy”, in which expectations from citizens exceed the realizations. In these countries, popular pressure for further democratization is likely to surface.
The elections in 12 countries in 2014 brought a total of 179 million people to the polls. They were peaceful and credible, with the exception of Malawi where vote buying was noted despite free elections. Elections in 2014 confirmed the notable increase in women representation. From 2000 to 2013 the number of women elected to parliament jumped by 16% and to cabinet positions by 7%. Much of this progress was achieved post 2010. However, women candidates remain rare, often hampered by more limited access to education and socio-economic opportunities and a male-oriented political culture, especially in political parties
Citizen engagement in the political process has also improved through means other than voting in elections. This includes public discussions, public protests and petitions. Citizens in Malawi presented a petition to the Lilongwe City Assembly in January 2015 in protest over the country’s financial woes. Membership in political organisations and campaigning has also gained prevalence. Digital activism, including using web- or text-based mobilization, has been on the rise as well. For example, a group of students, Olho do Cidadão (“Eye of the Citizen”), in Mozambique created an online platform “for people to report any suspicious acts during the elections”. Finally, social media were used to follow, report on and encourage the spontaneous public demonstrations that erupted in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, leading to President Compaore’s resignation.
These forms of civic participation promote better government accountability to citizens between elections and better service delivery. There is growing awareness –at least in East Africa (Afrobarometer, 2014) – that citizens can demand accountability between elections. Are the large protest movements that have erupted across the continent a sign of deeper citizen engagement or a rejection of more traditional forms of participation, such as voting and campaigning? Only future surveys will tell.

Public sector management is defined as the quality of budgetary and financial management, the efficiency of revenue mobilization, the quality of public administration, property rights and rule-based governance, as well as transparency, accountability and corruption in the public sector. Overall, public sector management has not improved much for the continent, but there has been progress in specific areas, especially equity in the use of public resources, statistical capacities and public administration (IIAG, 2014).
For example, the Lesotho government introduced performance agreement frameworks in the civil service, with the objective of establishing continued and sustainable national capacity (see Lesotho Country Note).
The biggest improvements in overall public sector management since 2009 have been in Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Guinea, Mauritius and the Seychelles. Progress in Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo is largely due to improved external debt sustainability. Mauritius, for its part, improved access to the
financial records of state-owned companies. It was already a top public management performer across the continent, alongside Botswana, Senegal, South Africa and Tunisia (IIAG, 2014).
The quality of budgetary and financial management has gone down since 2009 in spite of some countries implementing reforms (World Bank, 2014a). Ghana, for example, has pressed on with reforms, including payroll and wage reform, fiscal decentralization, modernisation of revenue authority and the rollout of the Ghana Integrated Financial Management Information System (see Ghana Country Note). In 2014, public expenditure, procurement and financial management were assessed in Benin, Burkina Faso, Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Gabon, the Gambia, Madagascar, Mauritania, Sierra Leone and South Africa (final reports forthcoming on the Public Expenditure and Financial Accountability assessment portal).
Corruption in the public sector remains a major issue. Control of corruption did not evolve much from 2009 to 2013 (World Bank, 2015a). According to Transparency International’s 2014 Corruption Perceptions Index, which reflects expert opinions of public sector corruption, Botswana, Cabo Verde and Seychelles are perceived as the most law-abiding African countries, ranking 31, 42 and 43 respectively out of 174 countries.
The countries most successful in improving perceptions of corruption in 2014
included Côte d’Ivoire, Egypt, Mali and Swaziland. Angola, Malawi and Rwanda were among countries where perceptions of corruption worsened the most over the past year (Transparency International, 2014). This has the potential to undermine long-term growth (Mauro, 1995) and development
The business environment has improved markedly in countries that needed it the most Sub-Saharan Africa remains the region with the most difficult business environment, but it is also the region making the most progress, accounting for one in every three regulatory reforms worldwide. The ten countries that most improved their business environment from June 2013 to June 2014 include five African countries that were in the bottom quintile globally for ease of doing business: Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Senegal and Togo (see Table 5.3). The fact that these countries remain in the bottom quintile, however, indicates that further efforts are needed.
Global risk analytics company Verisk Maplecroft assessed the rule of law, corruption, corporate governance, the regulatory framework, respect for property rights and supply chain labour risk and determined that Senegal’s economy improved the most in 2014.
This was thanks to a strong anti-corruption drive. The improved business climate in countries that needed it the most correlates with Africa making “a giant leap” in attractiveness for foreign direct investment (FDI) (EY, 2014) and with sustained growth rates (see Chapter 1; Ahmed, 2014).
Mauritius is among the 30 economies worldwide where it is easiest to do business. Rwanda, South Africa and Tunisia are not far behind (World Bank, 2015a). Rwanda, for example, has implemented reforms estimated to have led to USD 5 million in cost savings for the private sector, investments of USD 45 million and an estimated 15 000 jobs (see Rwanda Country Note). Egypt, Morocco and South Africa occupy the top spots as FDI destinations, attracting 85% of all FDI to Africa (2007-13) (EY, 2014). A sign of returning investor confidence, net FDI inflows to Egypt reached USD 4.1 billion in fiscal year 2013/14, compared to only USD 3.8 billion the previous fiscal year. Moreover, a new unified investment law is expected to be issued in 2015, standardising incentive schemes, facilitating market entry and exit procedures and expediting litigation and dispute resolution..

You May Also Like

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *