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Winner: Mauritius. Loser: Somalia.

This morning in Cape Town, South Africa the Mo Ibrahim Foundation released its annual index of governance in Africa. Using four categories — safety and rule of law, participation and human rights, sustainable economic opportunity, and human development — the winners were the usual suspects: Mauritius first, followed by Cape Verde, the Seychelles, and Botswana. ...

This morning in Cape Town, South Africa the Mo Ibrahim Foundation released its annual index of governance in Africa. Using four categories -- safety and rule of law, participation and human rights, sustainable economic opportunity, and human development -- the winners were the usual suspects: Mauritius first, followed by Cape Verde, the Seychelles, and Botswana. As a region, Southern Africa came out tops, beating out the ambitious economic growth of Northern Africa. The equally predictable losers are Somalia, Chad, and Zimbabwe. Central Africa (home to the Central African Republic, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, and  Equatorial Guinea, among others) is the region that looks least desirable.

But what's more interesting than the total results are the contrasts within countries themselves. Just take Tunisia, a strong economic performer ranked 8th overall but 35th in human rights. Or Benin, a West African country that ranks 8th in terms of safety and security but 26th in human development. 

This survey strikes me as most useful for what it tells us about the diversity of a continent that is far too often viewed as uniform. North Africa seems to have figured out an economic model that is plowing ahead towards growth; participatory governance is more of a struggle. Meanwhile, West Africa is chronically underdeveloped in areas such as healthcare, education, and general quality of life; but it's generally free and fairly safe. East Africa is in the middle of most indicators. While certainly there are lessons to draw from the successes and failures of all these countries, applying the same prescriptions won't work as well. 

This morning in Cape Town, South Africa the Mo Ibrahim Foundation released its annual index of governance in Africa. Using four categories — safety and rule of law, participation and human rights, sustainable economic opportunity, and human development — the winners were the usual suspects: Mauritius first, followed by Cape Verde, the Seychelles, and Botswana. As a region, Southern Africa came out tops, beating out the ambitious economic growth of Northern Africa. The equally predictable losers are Somalia, Chad, and Zimbabwe. Central Africa (home to the Central African Republic, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, and  Equatorial Guinea, among others) is the region that looks least desirable.

But what’s more interesting than the total results are the contrasts within countries themselves. Just take Tunisia, a strong economic performer ranked 8th overall but 35th in human rights. Or Benin, a West African country that ranks 8th in terms of safety and security but 26th in human development. 

This survey strikes me as most useful for what it tells us about the diversity of a continent that is far too often viewed as uniform. North Africa seems to have figured out an economic model that is plowing ahead towards growth; participatory governance is more of a struggle. Meanwhile, West Africa is chronically underdeveloped in areas such as healthcare, education, and general quality of life; but it’s generally free and fairly safe. East Africa is in the middle of most indicators. While certainly there are lessons to draw from the successes and failures of all these countries, applying the same prescriptions won’t work as well. 

Check out the full rankings here.

Elizabeth Dickinson is a Gulf-based member of the journalism collective Deca.

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