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Democracy ‘backsliding’ has slowed Africa’s development: study

Africa’s progress in human and economic development has slowed against a backdrop of “widespread democratic backsliding” and worsening security in the last three years, an African foundation has said.

The Mo Ibrahim Foundation, which tracks leadership and democracy on the continent through the Ibrahim Index of African Governance (IIAG) launched the 2022 edition on Wednesday.

It said there had been “marginal improvement” in good governance across Africa since 2012 but the trend had “flatlined” since 2019.

“Improvements in human development and economic foundations are undermined by an increasingly perilous security situation and widespread democratic backsliding,” it added.

“Governments have been increasingly prone to infringe on rights, curb freedom of expression and association, and impose restrictions on civic space,” the IIAG said.

The report said the trend “rapidly accelerated” when elections were cancelled in many places and governments used COVID as “an excuse to clamp down on dissent”.

But the index said that more than 90 percent of the continent now live in a country where human development – health, education, social protection and other criteria – is higher than in 2012.

The five countries that performed best in good governance were Mauritius, Seychelles, Tunisia, Cape Verde and Botswana.

South Sudan was in last place behind Somalia and Eritrea.

It also said The Gambia, the Seychelles and some other countries were “bucking the continental trend,” and cited broad improvement in the lot of women.

“In 42 African countries, women are seeing greater equality in political and socioeconomic spheres than they were in 2012,” it said.

The foundation, owned by Sudanese-British billionaire Mo Ibrahim, established the index in 2007.
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