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Mo Ibrahim Foundation highlights troubled state of Africa’s public services

Mo Ibrahim Foundation highlights troubled state of Africa’s public services

A report on the state of public services in Africa has just been released by the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, and its findings are a damning indictment of the failure by African leaders to deliver on some of the continent’s most pressing areas for development , writes reGina Jane Jere.

The 128-page report will be a point of focus next weekend at the 2018 Ibrahim Forum in Kigali, Rwanda, which will concentrate on Public Service in Africa, and how to encourage good governance and effective leadership on the continent.

“Public service is the pillar of governance. Without strong public services and committed public servants, there will be no efficient delivery of expected public goods and services, nor implementation of any commitment, however strongly voiced,” says Mo Ibrahim, the businessman, founder and chair of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation

The report points at the growing public service delivery expectations of citizens across the continent, especially among Africa’s burgeoning and urbanised youth. For the first time, the forum will be preceded on 27 April by a ‘Next Generation Forum’ in which young people will discuss their expectations of public service delivery. The outcomes from this youth forum will be then be deliberated the following day at the main forum. Backed by data, facts and figures, the report not only paints a very poor picture of the state of public services across a variety of sectors: from safety and security, health, education, climate change to justice and much more – but also highlights the need to build a sound contract between citizens and public service providers.

“This calls for a careful assessment of who is best positioned to address these demands and who has to pay for the delivery,” it states.

Public service is the pillar of governance. Without strong public services and committed public servants, there will be no efficient delivery of expected public goods and services, nor implementation of any commitment, however strongly voiced.

On average, according to a statement released with the report, African public services display a continent-wide lack of capacity. They remain a relatively small employer, at a cost higher than in other regions, with large country disparities.

“In health, education and security, public supply is far from answering the demand. And to partly answer the exponential demand and substitute failing public supply, a growing range of non-state actors have become key providers of public goods and services, to an extent that may have sometimes prevented national governments from owning public policies,” it reads further.

Here are some of the Highlights from the report which cab accessed in full here.

  • Only three countries – Libya, Mauritius and Tunisia, have at least one doctor per 1,000 people.
  • Filling the void left by public services, private security, private education, and private health is an increasing challenge, with the risk of widening inequalities on the continent.
  • DRC and Kenya have some of the smallest police force rates globally, with around 100 officers per 100,000 people.
  • Cairo’s population is larger than each of the 36 least populous countries on the continent.
  • Five out of the ten African countries with the largest public health expenditures as a % of total government expenditure are also among the ten countries with the highest share of external financing of their total health expenditure.
  • 30% to 50% of Africa’s total tax liability remains uncollected.
  • The average size of the informal sector in sub-Saharan Africa is estimated at 42% of gross national income, reaching 60% in Nigeria, Tanzania and Zimbabwe.
  • In Africa on average, public employees are better educated, older, and include more women compared to the private sector.
  • In Nigeria, roughly 82.3 million bribes were paid in 2016, equivalent to 39% of the combined federal and state education budget.
  • Mauritius is the only country where civil servants are appointed and evaluated entirely based on professional criteria, according to Global Integrity.
  • Africa loses around $2.0 billion annually through brain drain in the health sector.
  • In Ethiopia, local governments have only 21% of working days with Internet access, equivalent to only one day in a working week.
  • 22% of Africa’s population who had contact with a public service in 2015 said they paid a bribe, mostly to the police and the courts.
  • Ghana is the only country where civil servants operate entirely freely without political interference, according to Global Integrity.
  • In e-government, Africa lags far behind the global average In Rwanda, the delivery time of an emergency blood supply with drones is reduced to 30 minutes from three hours by road.
  • Many Indices point to a low and decreasing level of open government practices in Africa.
  • Over the past decade, the African average for the Accountability of Public Officials has deteriorated, with the pace of decline worsening over the last five years.
  • A majority of African citizens are in favour of paying for public services.
  • Only seven African countries have a complete birth registration system.

Filling the void left by public services, private security, private education, and private health are rising exponentially, with the risk of widening inequalities on the continent

The Mo Ibrahim Foundation was established in 2006 with a focus on the critical importance of leadership and governance in  Africa. By providing tools to support progress in leadership and governance, the foundation aims to promote meaningful change on the continent.

The foundation, which is a non-grant making organisation, focuses on defining, assessing and enhancing governance and leadership in Africa through initiatives including the Ibrahim Index of African Governance and the Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership, which celebrates excellence in African leadership. It is awarded to a former executive head of state or government by an independent prize committee. Previous Laureates include Presidents Joaquim Chissano (2007, Mozambique), Festus Mogae  (2008, Botswana), Pedro Pires (2011, Cabo Verde), Hifikepunye Pohamba (2014, Namibia) and Nelson Mandela (2007, South Africa).

Former Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is the 2017  Laureate and she will officially be honoured and receive the award at a gala dinner in Kigali on 27 April.

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