President William Ruto chats with opposition leader Raila Odinga when they met at the State Funeral of former President Mwai Kibaki at Nyayo Nationbal Stadium. [File, Standard]

Kenya has ranked 13th out of 54 African countries in governance in the wake of growing concerns by experts that the continent is facing increasing crises in security and the rule of law.

This is according to the 2022 Ibrahim Index of African Governance (IIAG), released yesterday by the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, highlighting that African governance has flatlined since 2019.

"The 2022 Ibrahim Index of African Governance highlights that African governance has flatlined since 2019," said Mo Ibrahim, Founder and Chair of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation. "Unless we quickly address this concerning trend, the years of progress we have witnessed could be lost, and Africa unable to reach in due time the SDGs or Agenda 2063."

Kenya's Overall Governance score has improved over the last decade (2012-2021). However, the pace of improvement has slowed down over the most recent five years (2017-2021).

The report indicates that Kenya has improved in three out of four categories since 2012; Participation, Rights & Inclusion, Foundations for Economic Opportunity and Human Development.

However, the country has reportedly deteriorated in Security & Rule of Law, driven by declines in sub-categories of Security & Safety and Accountability & Transparency.

Overall Mauritius emerged at the top of the ranking followed by Seychelles, Tunisia, Cabo Verde and Botswana. Botswana, South Africa, Ghana, Namibia, Senegal and Morocco rounded up the list of top ten countries in governance on the continent.

Kenya registered improvements in 11 out of the 16 sub-categories over the past decade with gains made in all sub-categories under the Human Development category.

"The categories to have seen the most sub-categories deteriorate are Security & Rule of Law and Participation, Rights & Inclusion," explained the report in part. "Kenya scores above the continental average for 15 sub-categories and is among the top ten for three of the 16 sub-categories in 2021."

However, the report cautions that improvements in human development and economic opportunities are being undermined by an increasingly perilous security situation and widespread democratic backsliding, as the continent struggles to manage the combined impacts of COVID-19, climate change, conflict and coups, as well as food and energy insecurity.

"Our continent is uniquely exposed to the converging impacts of climate change, more recently Covid-19, and now the indirect impact of Russia-Ukraine war," stated Mr. Ibrahim. "Governments must address all at once ongoing lack of prospects for our growing youth, worsening food insecurity, lack of access to energy for almost half the continent's population, heavier debt burden, growing domestic unrest."

According to the report, while these trends predate the pandemic, the introduction of restrictive measures and emergency provisions to address COVID-19 and its fallout have worsened existing challenges by accelerating a decline in democratic practices, clamping down on dissent, shrinking the civic space, and avoiding democratic scrutiny.

"The IIAG's other two categories- Human Development and Foundations for Economic Opportunity - do offer cause for cautious optimism, as both have progressed over 2012-2021," states the report.

This includes the Human Development index, which has improved year-on-year across the decade, with more than 90 per cent of Africa's population living in a country where progress has been made since 2012.

The Foundations for Economic Opportunity index similarly registered an improvement and is the only category to record continued progress since 2019, despite the seismic shocks of the pandemic.

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