African Average: 50.1
Change since 2011: +0.7
The latest report on the Mo Ibrahim Governance Index shows Sierra Leone among the Top Five out of the sixteen West African states. With an overall mark of 51, it ranked 5th behind Cape Verde, Ghana, Senegal and Benin. Sierra Leone improved overall in governance “(+0.7) since 2011 scoring higher than the African average and lower than the regional average for West Africa”. At the continental level, the Sierra Leone ranks 25 out of 54 countries assessed.
Mo Ibrahim launched the index to help countries measure and improve their performance. It ranks countries according to 93 indicators grouped under four categories: Safety and the Rule of Law, Participation and Human Rights, Sustainable Economic Opportunity and Human Development. The report shows overall improvements in human development and in participation and human rights, but deterioration in sustainable economic opportunity, and in safety and the rule of law.
Sierra Leone’s best performances are in the key good governance indicators of Safety and Rule of Law scoring 58% and ranking 5th in the sub-region and 17th on the continent. Within the first category (Safety and Rule of Law), Sierra Leone performed best in National Security, scoring 82.9%. In the Participation and Human Rights category, the country scores 60.8 which again puts Sierra Leone on the 5th position in the sub-region with a slightly higher ranking (16th) on the continent. Within this category, Sierra Leone’s best sub-category performance is in gender, 62.8 and 58.5 in the ‘Rights’ category. The relatively high scores (62.8) in the gender and (58.5) in the rights indicators clearly represent that Sierra Leone performs (relatively) well as shown both by the regional ranking (5th) and continental ranking (16th) in those two indicators.
In the Sustainable Economic Opportunities and Human Development categories, the country scores 39.9 and 45 respectively ranking 9th in the sub-region and 33rd in the continent. Within this category, the country’s best sub-category performance is in Rural Sector, 54. 4. Overall, the country shows a year on improvement (+1.1) in Sustainable Economic Opportunity since 2011. What more, the report shows an improvement in all sub-categories (+2.4) Business Environment (+1.5), infrastructure (+0.3) and Rural Sector (+0.1).
On Human Development, Sierra Leone scores 45.1, ranking 46th on the continent. The country did relatively well in Health, scoring 50.7 but not so well in the education subcategory where it scores 41.6 this year. Nonetheless, Sierra Leone registers an improvement (+2.7) in overall Human Development since 2011. Again, this has been driven by improvement in all three sub-categories: Welfare (+0.3) Education (+2.7) and Health (+3.2). This means that even though the country scores low in the education category (41.6), it still registers an improvement (+2.7).
At the sub-regional level, although Liberia made a good mark on Human Development scoring 50.9 and shared the same mark with Sierra Leone on the Sustainable Economic Opportunity indicator (39), Sierra Leone did better than both Liberia and Guinea in the overall score and on the first two indicators. Guinea performed poorly (compared with the Sierra Leone and Liberia) With a 43.7 overall mark, it scored 47.9 and 46.4 in Safety and the Rule of and Protection and Human Rights respectively. However, it did much better, about 8 points more than both Liberia and Sierra Leone on the Sustainable Economic Development indicator scoring 48.7.
Overall, the top five countries in the continent were Mauritius (79.9), Cape Verde (74.5), Botswana (74.2), South Africa (73.0) and Namibia (70.4), which overtook Seychelles. But Eritrea (29.9), Sudan (28.3), Central African Republic (24.9), South Sudan (19.9) and Somalia (8.5) were ranked at the bottom of the index. Ivory Coast (35th place, up 8.5 points to 48.3), Zimbabwe (44th, up 4.6 to 40.4) and Senegal (ninth, up 4.5 to 62.4) emerged as the top improvers since 201. Meanwhile, the worst fallers were South Sudan (down 9.6), the Central African Republic (down 8.4) and Mali (30th, down 8.1 to 48.7). Sierra Leone ranks 25th position which is just above Liberia but 14 points ahead of Guinea.
Sadly the report shows that progress is generally stalling in the whole continent or in some cases a reversal in some of the gains. The report indicates that the main reasons for the stall are declines in two broad areas: those relating to safety and the economy”. It further states that “although the average decline in measures of safety and the rule of law is pulled down by conflicts such as those in South Sudan, Libya and the Central African Republic (all of which have fallen sharply), even nominally peaceful countries also slipped on this measure”. Among the backsliders are Mauritius, Botswana and Tanzania.
While it acknowledges conflict as a retarding factor in the other countries, the report did not do so for the three most Ebola affected countries. Like in the other two countries, in Sierra Leone the impact of the Ebola outbreak has been far-reaching; it practically affected every sector. Health care, livelihoods, education and the economy bore the brunt of the calamity. For nearly one year, schools had to close down, the health sector almost collapsed and many people stayed away from the health facilities hampering the delivery of health services. The Ebola outbreak halted activities in infrastructural development and other capital intensive projects. In the agriculture sector; fear and panic among farmers led many to abandon their farms. This is because over 20% of those infected by the virus were farmers.
The Ebola outbreak halted activities in infrastructural development and other capital intensive projects. In the agriculture sector; fear and panic among farmers led many to abandon their farms. This is because over 20% of those infected by the virus were farmers. Also, the disease mostly affected the 21-59 age brackets that are most active in communities, resulting in loss of farm labour. The fear factor also drove overseas investors away. Mining, which is the mainstay of the economy was disrupted, exports shrunk and air transport sharply contracted further frustrating tourism. Prior to the outbreak, in 2013 alone, the domestic revenue collection to total government expenditure reached 72 percent.
This performance ensured that the government ended the year 2013 on a sound fiscal balance. But with the lull in economic activities induced by the Ebola outbreak, domestic revenue dropped while expenditure to fend off the virus increased. Sierra Leone’s economic growth projected at 11.3 percent was revised downward to 4.0 percent. This grim economic setback gives a very clear indication of the enormity of the impact of the Ebola outbreak on the country’s development trajectory and how much it may have affected Sierra Leone’s ratings especially in the Sustainable Economic Opportunity and Human development categories.