The Mo Ibrahim Foundation (MIF) is convinced that good governance and leadership are the keys to African economic, political and social development, Neil Ford reports.
It was set up in London in 2006 by Mohammed Ibrahim, the well-known telecoms entrepreneur and philanthropist and, as with most think-tanks, it tries to position itself between the academic world, civil society, the private sector and policy makers.
The Foundation provides academic scholarships and the Ibrahim Forum but is best known for the Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership and the Ibrahim Index of African Governance (IIAG). Three African leaders have received the Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership to date: Joachim Chissano of Mozambique, Festus Mogae of Botswana and Cape Verde’s Pedro Pires. The prize comprises an initial payment of $5m plus $200,000 a year for life. On the other years since 2007, when the annual award was launched, no candidates have been deemed to have made a sufficient contribution to receive the award.
On a far wider scale, the MIF publishes the Ibrahim Index of African Governance (IIAG) to measure governance levels in each African state. It aims to supply the tools to support good governance through the provision of accurate, comparable and easy to understand data and produces a league table of the performance of each government, allowing it to track both national and continent-wide trends.
The index is based on Mo Ibrahim’s view is that there is no difference between the governance of a company or a state. Nathalie Delapalme, executive director for research and policy at MIF, says: “The results of both have to be monitored – that’s why the index was created.”
The index provides two very interesting comparisons: levels of governance in each African state; plus how that level of governance has changed over the past five years. Its calculations are based on four main factors: Participation & Human Rights; Human Development; Safety and Rule of Law; and Sustainable Economic Opportunity, with all scores given out of 100. Within each of thes e categories, progress in a number of sub-categories is measured.
More than 30 organisations, such as the African Development Bank, World Bank, United Nations and the World Economic Forum supply the primary research that contributes to the index, providing data on more than 100 indicators.
In common with many other indices, its methodology is periodically tweaked to take advantage of access to new data streams. This can often make it difficult to compare different datasets from one report to the next, but to get around this problem the IIAG backdates the information it provides for each year in each new report. This allows comparison over time and space.