13 July 2007
South Africa performed steadily in the World Bank’s latest Worldwide Governance Indicators report, showing improvements in all but one of the categories.
The 2007 report, the sixth of its kind, covers 212 countries and territories, building on research on the importance of governance and its impact on development from 1996 to 2006.
The indicators measure voice and accountability, political stability and absence of major violence and terror, government effectiveness, regulatory quality, rule of law, and control of corruption.
The lowest reading on South Africa’s report is that of 44% for political stability, though it has been steadily rising from a low of 13% in 1996. The highest score is almost 77% in the effective governance category, just shy of the 78% high set in 1998.
Though performance in the control on corruption category, at 71% is down from the 1996 high of 76%, South Africa’s performance has been on the increase since 2003.
The best performer for South Africa over the decade has been the regulatory quality category, which has risen from 51% in 1996 to 70% in 2006. It has also risen by almost 4% over the past year.
The only category where South Africa’s performance declined was in the voice and accountability category, which slipped from 71% in 2005 to 67% in 2006.
Percentage rankings indicate the percentage of countries worldwide that rate below the selected country, so a higher value indicates better governance ratings.
‘Significant improvements’ in Africa
A statement issued by the World Banks states that “significant improvements” have been made over the past decade in Africa, particularly in countries like Niger, Sierra Leone, Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia, Tanzania and Rwanda.
Though the report’s co-author and the World Bank Institute’s director of global governance, Daniel Kaufmann, said this was hopeful news, he acknowledged that there was no evidence that governance in the world at large improved markedly over the past decade and that results varied.
“The good news is that some countries, including some of the poorest ones in Africa, are deciding to move forward, and are showing to the world that it is possible to make substantial inroads in improving governance over a relatively short period of time – in less than a decade,” he said.
Kaufmann states that such improvements in governance are critical for aid effectiveness and for sustained long-run economic growth.
“Bribery around the world is estimated at about US$1-trillion, and the burden of corruption falls disproportionately on the bottom billion people living in extreme poverty,” he said.
The report shows that between the period 1998 to 2006, African countries like Kenya, Niger, Sierra Leone have shown marked recent improvements in voice and accountability, while Algeria and Liberia have strengthened their rule of law.
Also, countries like Algeria, Angola Libya, Rwanda and Sierra Leone have made improvements in political stability and Tanzania has recorded gains on control of corruption.
The report also shows, however, that other African countries still face enormous governance and development challenges, with declines in the governance indicators for Cote d’ Ivoire and Zimbabwe.
However, Kaufmann warns that it’s not only developing countries that face governance challenges, stating that new data shows that a number of emerging economies rate better in governance and control of corruption than some rich industrialised economies.