Africa makes slight improvement in governance over 10 years

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Africa's countries have struggled to improve their governance in the past 10 years, according to a comprehensive survey released Monday.

The continent's 54 countries together advanced just one point on a 100-point scale measuring overall governance since 2006, according to the Ibrahim Index of African Governance.

Although many individual countries did better than that, the continent-wide score was held back because of a widespread deterioration in safety and the rule of law, said the survey published by the Mo Ibrahim Foundation. The organization was founded by a mobile phone magnate from Sudan.

"The positive side is that governance on the continent has improved. It may be only slightly, but it is progress," Mary Robinson, former Irish president and a member of the foundation's board, told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. "Perhaps the most worrying trend is the deterioration of rule of law and safety, personal safety."

The Indian Ocean island of Mauritius consistently has been ranked by the survey as the African country with the best governance rating, followed by Botswana, Cape Verde, the Seychelles, Namibia and South Africa.

At the bottom of the survey's scale was Somalia. Other countries with the lowest scores were South Sudan, Sudan, Central African Republic and Libya.

South Africa shows both positive and negative trends. The continent's most industrialized economy is threatened by a recession, with high unemployment and chronic power shortages. Although South Africa is one of the survey's top-ranked countries, it had the largest decline.

A positive development across Africa in the past 10 years has been the improvement in access to mobile phones and the internet, according to the index. On the downside, access to electricity has dropped since 2006.

The governance index measures each of Africa's countries in 95 criteria, taken from 34 independent sources. A new addition is data from Afrobarometer, which polls public perceptions of issues such as corruption, economic opportunity and human rights.

"To be able to look at measurements of these key indicators over the 10 years from 2006 until 2015 is valuable," Robinson said. "This is the strongest governance survey of Africa."