Mediocre South Africa outflanked again by Mauritius, Rwanda in Global Good Government Index

Written on 05/04/2022
Linda van Tilburg

A fifth position in Africa puts South Africa ahead of most African countries in the Chandler Good Governance Index, but what has become a theme in most of the global indices and reports is the rise of Mauritius and Rwanda. In a recent Henley and Partners report, Mauritius was singled out as the country where private wealth has increased way above other African countries over the last decade. In the Chandler Index, Mauritius is again in the top African position, with Rwanda second and Botswana in third place. When you dig into the lengthy report on what leads to good governance, it is clear what South Africa lacks and what it is good at. We are in the 100th place out of 104 countries in terms of having an attractive marketplace, which does not auger well for luring investors to the country. That is just four places above Venezuela. And despite all the programmes to uplift the people of South Africa, the country still ranks only 96 on the list when it comes to helping people rise. It is ironic as the words of Nelson Mandela are quoted in the introduction of the index: “A nation should not be judged by how it treats its highest citizens, but its lowest ones.” For leadership and foresight, South Africa is in the middle at 57, while financial stewardship is at 56 and, the country sits at 52 for global influence and reputation. Recent fence-sitting on Ukraine and voting at the United Nations has probably not helped that ranking. When it comes to strong institutions, South Africa finds itself in the upper half at number 42, but the criteria where we rank among the top 25 in the world, is for robust laws and policies. – Linda van Tilburg

Mauritius ranks first among African countries in global index of good government

The second edition of the Chandler Good Government Index (the “CGGI”, or the “Index”) launched today in Singapore. Designed by the Chandler Institute of Governance (CIG), the Index is the world’s most comprehensive index of effective national government. It shows the importance of investing in enhancing the capabilities of public servants and the structures they operate within, to achieve a better and more sustainable future. This year’s edition builds on the success of the inaugural Index launched in 2021 and comes at a critical time as governments around the world look to recover from the pandemic.

Based on over 50 open data sources, the CGGI is a principled and data-driven way to understand the capabilities and outcomes of 104 governments across the world, and almost 90% of the world’s population. The index focuses on seven pillars – Leadership & Foresight; Robust Laws & Policies; Strong Institutions; Financial Stewardship; Attractive Marketplace; Global Influence & Reputation; and Helping People Rise. The rigorous methodology of the Index was developed in consultation with government practitioners, leaders, index experts, and researchers in governance.

Across Africa, the top 15 countries are:

The rankings of Mauritius, Rwanda, and Botswana by pillar are as follows:

European nations feature prominently in the global top 20, with Finland holding onto the top position and Switzerland ranking second. The top 20 countries in the CGGI 2022 are as follows:

The Index – developed by government practitioners, for government practitioners – has been designed to be a practical tool for enhancing good governance. It enables governments, with their own unique economic and political situations, to assess and benchmark their capabilities and performance. The Index report provides analyses and examples of relevant and impactful policy and effective service delivery around the world.

Key Findings of the 2022 CGGI:

Good governments are more prepared for pandemics and other crises

Released during the pandemic, the Index allows us to assess how governance affects a nation’s crisis preparedness and responses. The 2022 CGGI shows that countries with good governance were better prepared for the COVID-19 pandemic, conducted more tests per capita, and generally experienced fewer excess deaths per capita. Because many government capabilities – such as planning, budgeting and policy design – can be deployed to manage different challenges, the CGGI highlights the role of better governance in how nations deal with other pressing issues such as climate change and regional instability, during these increasingly turbulent times.

Good governance is closely linked to social mobility and social progress

Overall CGGI country rankings are closely linked to the degree of social mobility and social progress countries experience. In turn, social mobility is key for long-term cohesiveness and harmony within nations. The Index suggests that the most capable governments are those which foster the greatest social mobility, and social mobility increases the opportunities for every citizen to prosper.

Mr Wu Wei Neng, Executive Director of the Chandler Institute of Governance said:

“Government capabilities are an enduring source of competitive advantage for nations. These capabilities include systems, institutions, processes, and skills – elements that take time to improve and build up. Once developed and strengthened, government capabilities are not easily eroded in the short-term, and can support governments through brief periods of instability or crisis.”

Governance capabilities are an enduring source of national advantage

Roughly one-third of countries in the CGGI (33) maintained the same overall ranking, and there were few large changes in country rankings. This stability can be partly attributed to the CGGI’s focus on capabilities, rather than outcomes. Capabilities in governance represent enduring foundations for public sector excellence and are stable and lasting investments that governments can make for the future.

Ed-Olowo-Okere of the Governance Global Practice at the World Bank said:

“Countries need good governance to better tackle the current development challenges that they face, such as the pandemic, climate change and growing inequality, and to turnaround the low and declining trust in government. In the absence of good governance, countries may not be able to formulate good policies. Even when governments adopt good policies, without good governance they will struggle with gaps in implementation that derail intended outcomes. This is especially true in Africa where poor governance has affected development outcomes, resulting in a high concentration of people living below the poverty line. The Chandler Good Governance Index will help governments examine how they can improve their performance in various aspects to help achieve better development outcomes.”

More capable governments achieve better outcomes

The Index continues to show that effective government capabilities are closely linked to better outcomes for citizens. The same seven countries that top the overall Index also deliver the best outcomes in important areas such as education, gender equity and health, that matter to citizens. Additionally, Rule of Law, Property Rights, and Anti-Corruption are the three capabilities out of 26 that are most closely linked with overall CGGI performance. These are cornerstones upon which trust- based societies and economies are built. The Index not only highlights the need to bolster government capabilities globally but can also reveal the specific areas different governments need to prioritise.

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