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The Ten Best Governed Countries in Africa

Good News Out of Africa: The Ten Best Governed Countries

Amid worsening economic news flying at us almost constantly, there is some good news and it’s coming from a surprising corner of the globe: Africa. The continent that has been the metaphor for human misery because of continual wars, poverty, and famine in some respects is recording healthier economic growth than in the industrialized world according to the International Monetary Fund.

The IMF estimates that Africa’s economy may expand by 5 percent this year and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development reports that a bigger portion of money entering Africa since 2006 has been investment rather than aid. Even more optimistic is that the Mo Ibrahim Foundation found that 31 out of 48 sub-Saharan African countries, governance is improving. Most improved over the past year was Liberia which saw more than a quarter of a million of its own citizens perish in two civil wars between 1989 and 2003, but has now risen six places to 38th.

To see why some conditions are improving and the 10 best governed African countries,


Among the many reasons for the stirrings of this African renaissance is the end of the cold war where many African nations were torn between American and Soviet backed paramilitary organizations which brutalized their populations with impunity. Adding to that, it appears that liberation movements are slowly ebbing, giving way to more opportunities for grassroots democratic movements reflecting the true will of the people. The Ibrahim Foundation’s director of research said: “...there’s a new generation of Africans who are now saying ‘No. Show us what you can deliver’. You find autocrats are reincarnating themselves as democrats.”

According to an index of African governance released this week, the 10 best governed African countries include:

  • Mauritius
  • Seychelles (pictured)
  • Cape Verde
  • Botswana
  • South Africa
  • Namibia
  • Ghana
  • Gabon
  • Sao Tome and Principe
  • Senegal

Among the worst? Nigeria, Sudan, Chad, Somalia, and Angola.


Join The Conversation
estrelas estrelas 8 years
Hey raisinette, sorry for the delayed response..I didn't subscribe to the thread! It's hard for me to really answer that question. There is a long, sordid history of colonisation that has impacted the island since the Dutch, and really questions notions of nationalism and Mauritian identity. That being said, Mauritius has perhaps one of the most diverse populations on a national scale, and given its proximity to both Africa and South Asia, it is hardly surprising the influence of both on identity politics. To answer your question, I have to defer my judgement to what Mauritians believe themselves to be. It's all too easy to get trapped in political rhetoric, especially when larger powers enforce themselves upon smaller groups. If they see themselves as separate or not, well, I'll take their word for it. ...that's probably as clear as mud, isn't it?
stephley stephley 8 years
I agree Sticker - the Chinese aren't in Africa to make friends, just to spread money around like manure to get what they want. I don't condemn them for it, just think we should be aware.
Sticker1 Sticker1 8 years
Yeah Botswana is really a great story... ...As for the Chinese investment, kind of interesting. I read some interesting articles in the Economist about how a lot of the mineral extraction funded by the Chinese was done by Chinese workers and besides leasing and land removal rights, didn't put a whole lot into the economies of such African nations. The Chinese also weren't shy about paying in guns as we've seen in Sudan. It seems to be a smarter ploy than what the European colonialists tried to do, that is take over the entire culture. The Chinese are just like in and out for the minerals and don't seem to give an eff about the culture.
JessicaLE JessicaLE 8 years
JessicaLE JessicaLE 8 years
Oh snap Sticker, it is 4! Forgot Sao Tome & Principe. And I'm not sure how old the data is (whether it came out before or after their baking mergers and further liberalization), but last thing I heard, Botswana's income inequality (in this case as measured by the gini coefficient) is up there with Brazil. South Africa's up there too, but that's a given.
Sticker1 Sticker1 8 years
So 4 of the countries are small island nations and 2 are countries that have a rich white elite. I think we should be really excited about Botswana. Devastated by AIDS, Botswana has really turned things around with their banking sector, but their wealth and Gabon's is really based on mineral extraction. Ghana and Senegal are nice surprises though, but let's not get too excited here. Just because an economy is slated to grow at least 5% a year doesn't necessarily transmit to a significant increase in the economic well being of the entire nation.
Lynne Lynne 8 years
That picture is really awesome! Thanks for the continuing information JessicaLE!!
raisinette raisinette 8 years
estrelas - I've been waiting for Mauritius to get the recognition it deserves! long as it doesn't lead to any interfering attention from the world. Do you think it makes sense to view Mauritius as an African country or had they ought to have a more precise reputation like your friends suggest?
JessicaLE JessicaLE 8 years
Well for starters, because the continent was ravaged by colonialism, post-colonial dictatorial "leaders," civil wars, ethnic cleansing, and the IMF's and World Bank's economy-obliterating Structural Adjustment Plans. Not to mention that it's location makes for higher instances of communicable diseases and agricultural difficulties.
nyaradzom2001 nyaradzom2001 8 years
Why is it surprising that it's in Africa??
JessicaLE JessicaLE 8 years
Oh and I love that picture.
JessicaLE JessicaLE 8 years
It's funny how the top three are island nations. Maybe it has something to do with the palm trees and sunsets? :) Just kidding. But like the article said, 2006 data is a bit dated. :( Lots has happened unfortunately since then. I'm agreeing with you Michelin.
estrelas estrelas 8 years
yeah, go Mauritius!! ....Although, the Mauritians I know wouldn't classify themselves as belonging to any continent. Go island pride :)
Michelann Michelann 8 years
Nevermind, I clicked the wrong linked article the first time. I see the standards now, but I still think 'best governed' is rather subjective.
Michelann Michelann 8 years
Can somebody please explain to me what "best governed" means? By what standards did they measure this?
stephley stephley 8 years
A lot of that investment is from China.
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