18 October 2012

Rwanda: Mo Ibrahim Index Challenged

The Mo Ibrahim index of African Governance (IIAG) is a good initiative that needs to shift from dependence on data from the West to working with the continent's research institutions in order to depict a truer picture of Africa, the Rwanda Governance Board (RGB) has said.

This was in reaction to the latest edition of 2012 Mo Ibrahim Index that was released last week.

Despite Rwanda's rank improving by two places from 25th to 23rd and scoring 53 percent overall on governance, RGB expressed dissatisfaction on the methodology used to determine scores in various categories.

"The Mo Ibrahim approach to assess governance issues in Africa is commendable, although it would be made better if the formula and approach are improved, first by relying more on African data than on Western data, which is sometimes biased and without contextual analysis," Felicien Usengumikiza, the Deputy CEO in charge of Research and Monitoring at RGB, said in an interview with The New Times.

The report is sponsored by Mo Ibrahim Foundation, whose benefactor, Mo Ibrahim, is a Sudanese-born telecommunication mogul.

"Its current approach is somehow inconsistent in terms of data presentation over the years and lacks a comparative approach with already existing data in many of our institutions".

Although Rwanda scored 53 percent on average in all indicators, above the continent's 51 per cent average score, it fell way below average in critical areas like national safety, rule of law, social participation and human rights.

"Free elections or power sharing in Rwanda are wrongly interpreted in the report and disregard the context of our country. For example, Rwanda is putting more emphasis on citizen participation through communal meetings, national dialogue, community works and through free and fair national elections. All these home-grown initiatives are not considered in the report yet they play a significant role in good governance," he said.

"On issues of national security, Mo Ibrahim mixes national security issues with cross border tensions between Rwanda and governments involved in conflict, which is a controversial oversight entirely based on foreign reports".

Usengumikiza further explained that the report failed to correlate between doing business and national security, whereby, the country wouldn't be flourishing economically, like the report asserts, and yet be internally insecure.

"Rwanda is recognised as one the safest countries in the region when it comes to national security. Our institution's scorecard of 2010 ranked safety and security as best performing indicators at 87.2 percent, yet in this indicator, Mo Ibrahim ranks Rwanda 48th in the whole of Africa," he said.

"It is unfair to see that Rwanda scores as those countries with persistent conflict, yet is widely trusted not only by her citizens but also by the international community to keep peace and security in various countries where war and insecurity persist."

He argued that unlike what the report states, Rwanda is recognised among the few African countries with improved healthcare policies and on track to achieve its Millennium Development Goals.

In support of his stand, Usengumukiza presented official national statistics showing that the country's poverty rate dropped almost 12 percent in five years from 56.7 in 2006 to 44.9 percent in 2011.

Generally, the 2012 IIAG report asserts that governance in Rwanda improved between 2000 and 2011, emerging 4th out of 11 countries in eastern Africa and 23rd out of 52 overall.

The East African region is ranked second last out of five regions in areas such as, national safety, rule of law and sustainable economic opportunity categories, whereas it ranks 3rd in social participation, human rights and human development.

The region scores first in gender and rural categories but emerges bottom in national security and public management.

According to the report, overall governance in Africa has improved since 2000, especially in healthcare, rural sector development, and gender empowerment.

The report named Rwanda amongst seven countries that demonstrated significant improvement in overall governance since 2000.

Some of the indicators where Rwanda scored highly include gender 87 percent, and was the first on the continent, health 78 percent, business environment and rural sector both at 72 percent, while in welfare and human development, the country scored 65 and 64 percent respectively.

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