18 October 2012

East Africa: Rights Abuses, Corruption Dent Governance Rating

Uganda's ranking on the Mo Ibrahim index, released this week, would have been much better, if advances in gender and national security had met corresponding improvements in infrastructure development, human rights and accountability.

While highlighting an above-average performance in national security and gender, among other issues, the report registered poor performance in infrastructure development, human rights and accountability. This year, Uganda's overall score for governance is 55%, higher than the regional average of 47% and the continental average of 51%.

Uganda came 19th out of the 52 African countries ranked. These exclude Southern Sudan and Sudan for which there are insufficient disaggregated data. Overall, Uganda scored highest in the Human Development category with an average score of 58%, while its lowest score was in the Sustainable Economic Opportunity where it got an average of 51%.

Among the five countries that comprise the East African Community, Tanzania came first with a 58.8% rating followed by Uganda (55.1%), Rwanda (53.5%), Kenya (52.7%) and Burundi (44.9%). Over all, out of the 52 countries, Tanzania emerged 10th, Uganda (19), Rwanda (23), Kenya (25), and Burundi (37).

Both Kenya and Uganda registered deterioration in Sustainable Economic Opportunity, dragging down the regional trends. East Africa has consequently been overtaken by West Africa in the category of Sustainable Economic Opportunity. But not everyone agrees with the findings. For instance, the conclusion that Uganda has made significant strides in the health area is likely to offend some people.

The deteriorating state of Uganda's health sector recently caused a storm in Parliament with the latter insisting on an increment in the budgetary allocation to the ailing sector. Dr Patrick Wakida, managing director of Research World International, says that whereas Uganda has indeed made improvements in human development, this has mainly been in terms of training more people with no corresponding jobs, which he says takes away the credit.

He, however, agrees with the report findings that gave Uganda minimal scores in respect of human rights. He says the last 10 years have seen a deterioration of human rights, ranging from freedom of speech, "phone tapping practices, [and] police restriction of freedom of assembly".

Established in 2007, the Ibrahim Index of African Governance (IIAG) assesses governance in African countries. It's compiled in partnership with a number of African institutions. Its findings are intended to provide a framework for citizens, public authorities and partners to assess the effective delivery of public goods and services. It also provides a tool for assessing policy outcomes.

Data used in the compilation of the 2012 IIAG are from 2000 - 2011. Its findings therefore do not capture failures and successes in the last one year, like the uprisings in North Africa.

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