Kenya slides further in new governance ranking


By Juma Kwayera

Kenya’s slide into ignominy continues with the latest Mo Ibrahim Index on governance placing it at position 22, lumping it together with minnows like Eritrea, Chad and Central African Republic.

The release of this year’s results, which might also see either former Namibian President Sam Nujoma or Ghanaian President John Kufuor bag the coveted $5 million prize for good governance, were released at a time pressure is piling on the Government to re-energise the reforms agenda.

Kenya’s hurtle downwards on the 53-country index is a major test for the Grand Coalition Government that is ever enmeshed in corruption scandals and wrangles over executive power as insecurity spikes, while hunger and high consumer prices encumber access to services.

Asked for her insights into the drop, Centre for Multiparty Democracy Executive Director Njeri Kabeberi observes the country has had a leadership crisis since independence but the indifference to good governance has steeped in the reign of the Grand Coalition. "The leadership has perfected the art of self-perpetuation instead of aspiring for the general good. Southern African nations have performed well because they are investing quality," says Kabeberi.

Ethnic and political divisions

The latest rankings are based on the 2007/2008-period, when Kenya was smarting from ethnic and political divisions, a vicious cycle of violence, and a power struggle between the President and the Prime Minister.

The index, mooted in 2000 by Sudanese telecommunication tycoon Mohammed Ibrahim, recognise promotion of democracy, efficient service delivery, good governance and accountability. The slump is not unexpected.

Kenya National Human Rights Commission vice-chairman Omar Hassan says: "Kenya is suffocated by sedate leadership. Competing for power means the principals (President Kibaki and Prime Minister Odinga) are not reading from the same script. In such circumstances, issues of human rights, human development service delivery, and security are relegated to the periphery."

Two crucial reports, the Commission of Inquiry into Post-Election Violence and UN Human Rights Commission report on extra-judicial killings has seen Kenya slip to be at par with countries emerging from conflicts such as Burundi and Zimbabwe.

Significantly, the results came barely a fortnight after another report, Doing Business 2010 showed the country has also slumped to 95 from 72 in 193 economies with best investment climate.

Says Kabeberi: "The fact that we are almost in the same bracket with countries that have been or are still at war should be a wake-up call for leaders."

She says there is a direct relationship between economic growth, human development index, and investment inflows on the one hand and safety security, good governance and human rights on the other.

The Doing Business 2010 report, compiled by the World Bank annually, has over the past two years shown that Kenya’s drop in rating is linked to the political volatility and insecurity — considered key disincentives to potential investors.

Mauritius tops the 2009 Ibrahim Index with a score of 82.8. The war-ravaged Somalia is the poorest performer.

Worst performance

Other than Tunisia, the top 10 countries are from the Southern African Development Community economic bloc. In general, Southern Africa is the continent’s best performing region, with an average score of 58.1 followed closely by North Africa, with an average score of 57.7. West Africa is ranked third with an average score of 51.7, while East Africa with a score of 46.9 is fourth and Central Africa is the worst performing, with an average score of 40.2.

In all, Cape Verde is ranked second with a score of 78, while Seychelles is third with a score of 77.1 followed by Botswana with a score of 73.6. South Africa, Africa’s economic giant, is fifth with a score of 69.4.

The Ibrahim Prize recognises and celebrates excellence in African leadership. The prize is awarded to a democratically elected former African executive head of state or government who has served their term in office within the limits set by the country’s constitution and has left office in the last three years.

The Ibrahim Prize consists of $5million over 10 years and $200,000 annually for life thereafter. It is the largest annually awarded prize in the world.

The foundation will consider granting a further $200,000 per year, for 10 years, towards public interest activities and good causes espoused by the winner.

The prize committee is chaired by former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and is set to announce the next winner on October 19.

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