By Hazel Feigenblatt — August 26, 2015.
The indicators assess the rule of law, accountability, elections, public management, civil service integrity, and access to information, looking both at what policies are in place and whether they are implemented. There is also a “bonus” section that – for the purpose of this project – we have called “Social Development,” which takes a snapshot of a mix of social issues, from minority rights to gender, health and education.
Among the findings, the research shows that interference from the executive branch significantly limits the strengthening of an independent judiciary, auditors and civil service across Africa. Even in countries where the judiciary enjoys full legal independence, in practice about half of the countries received very low scores and only six received high marks.
However, some countries show progress both in the legal framework and in practice. For example, a 2014 law in Tunisia added explicit provisions on judicial independence and constitutional protections from external intimidation were introduced in Liberia. In practice, in Benin, judges have been vocal whenever their independence was somehow threatened.
The situation is very similar with the auditing institutions and in the civil service. The research found significant instances of executive interference into audit operations, including restrictions from auditing certain accounts, politicized appointments and removals without due process. In the case of the civil service, only six countries scored well and reports of the removal and replacement of civil servants based on political affiliation were common.
To date we have conducted three rounds of research – the first one being a pilot – and our in-country teams are currently on the field preparing the fourth one. Stay tuned until next April!
The project is unique in many ways. It is one of few initiatives that cover all 54 countries in the continent. Our researchers and reviewers are African experts and journalists who know their countries better than anybody. We are not only looking at what the laws say, but also and more importantly at what really happens in practice.
The indicators are the result of a partnership with the Mo Ibrahim Foundation. Since 2014, the Africa Integrity Indicators are an excellent source of data for the Ibrahim Index of African Governance. They are also used by the World Bank’s Worldwide Governance Indicators (WGI) and by the Millennium Challenge Corporation.
Over the course of the research process, Global Integrity has engaged with representatives from some African governments interested in discussing the results. We welcome questions and dialogue with more countries, multilateral partners, civil society organizations, and other interested parties, particularly to explore how we can make use of the data to stimulate and support dialogue about policy options.
The project takes a granular approach, with benchmarks that define the different scores fully spelled out and each score supported by an explanation, including all sources that informed the research and findings.
While we do not expect everybody to always agree with how our methodology and our researchers approached each indicator (or the scores, particularly the low ones!), we are certain that the indicators provide a solid snapshot of an issue at the time of the research and serve as a starting point to do further research, prioritize areas for improvement and spark discussions and reflections around important issues.
The new Africa Integrity Indicators follow Global Integrity’s evidence-based expert assessment methodology and draw from the Global Integrity Report questions. However, users of our older assessments will immediately notice important changes, which are the result of lessons learned in the last few years. But more on Global Integrity’s journey with integrity assessments in a blog post coming up soon!