African governments show improvements but progress 'stalls'

A Zambian woman gets ready to cast her ballot for the Zambian Presidential elections at Kanyama primary in Lusaka on January 20, 2015 Image copyright AFP
Image caption Mo Ibrahim has said that democracy is more than being able to cast a vote every four years

Thirty-three out of Africa's 54 countries have shown improvements in the way they are governed over the last four years, research has found.

But the researchers behind the Ibrahim Index of African Governance say progress "is stalling".

The index measures changes in development, human rights, security and economic opportunity.

Mauritius and Cape Verde are the top-ranked countries, and South Sudan and Somalia are at the bottom of the index.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Despite the hopes of independence in 2011 South Sudan has experienced a lot of difficulties

The Sudan-born mobile phone magnate Mo Ibrahim, who funds the research, said that it is hard to make generalisations because "Africa is not a country", and the research reveals huge differences within the continent.

Overall, Ivory Coast has shown the most improvement since 2011 as it moved away from the conflict that was sparked by a disputed election the year before.

Top five-ranked countries

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Ameenah Gurib was recently elected by parliament as Mauritius' first female president
  • Mauritius
  • Cape Verde
  • Botswana
  • South Africa
  • Namibia

South Sudan, the world's newest country, has shown the greatest deterioration in governance - in part because of the civil war which began in December 2013.

Zimbabwe is also listed as a country which has shown big improvements over the last four years, but nonetheless is ranked 44th on the continent.

Ordinary Zimbabweans told the BBC's Brian Hungwe in the capital, Harare, that they were surprised to hear that things were improving, despite the political situation becoming more peaceful.

"That's totally outrageous," one man said, "people are suffering because of the economy and there is not enough food on the table."

Among other countries, Ghana is ranked seventh on the index, with a small decrease in its score for governance, Ethiopia comes 31st, with an increase in its score and Nigeria came 39th, also with an increase.

Bottom five-ranked countries

  • Eritrea
  • Sudan
  • Central African Republic
  • South Sudan
  • Somalia

Looking at the continent as a whole, Mr Ibrahim did have concerns about the pace at which things are changing.

He said, while launching the index, that Africans are "healthier and live in more democratic societies" compared to 15 years ago but "recent progress in other key areas on the continent has either stalled or reversed".

He added that this was "a warning sign for all of us".

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