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Successful Models: Varied Paths of Reform in Africa

Reform in Africa has been at the forefront of the continent’s priorities as a result of the complicated, and sometimes chronic, problems African states have been subjected to for decades.

As a result of the fluctuating performance of many countries regarding the reform process, there has been a negative evaluation of reform efforts in Africa. But the reality is that there are many successful African reform experiences that can be an important asset in their optimistic indicators of the continent’s future.

International indicators provide an appropriate tool to monitor the continent’s annual reform progress in a step to adopt objective criteria in assessing the success of African countries in their multi-reform tracks in recent years, as well as to monitor their relative development to the more advanced countries of the world.

According to 2018 estimates, Mauritius ranked first in Africa and 20th in the Global Peace Index 2018, surpassing more advanced countries such as Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain, Italy, the United Kingdom and Britain. Mauritius’was in the 25th place in 2015, in contrast to the global trend that the report has demonstrated during its years of publication, which confirms the steady decline of peace indicators in most of the world.

The World Peace Index, published by the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP) in Sydney, Australia, is specialized with a great deal of comprehensiveness and complexity, as the status of each country is evaluated annually through 20 variables including external and internal wars, relationswith neighboring countries, crime, security, military capabilities and the ability to control the proliferation of weapons.

Maintaining peace in a country such as Mauritius may seem easy in light of the small size of the island and its limited population but the truth is that reform policies, aimed to manage diversity in Mauritius to prevent conflicts of wealth and power between the different elements of society, have never been an easy task as the people of Mauritius are of various origins. Some are Indian, others Chinese, or of French origins, and Creole groups are the descendants ofindigenous people from African communities who married foreigners.

This great variety has been reflected in religious pluralism as the Mauritian population are followers Hinduism, Catholicism and Islam. Consequently, Mauritius’ successive governments have committed themselves to the principle of citizenship and good governance practices to create a balanced and peaceful relationship between various groups in the country.

Botswana: Anti-corruption Index

African countries are an ideal example of the phenomenon known as the “curse of resources” as the discovery of natural resources in economically exploitable quantities is often the cause of a number of major problems, such as foreign intervention, internal conflict and mismanagement to the benefit of a limited group. The majority of challenges can simply be described as “corruption”.

While Botswana is the major diamond producer in Africa and the second globally after Russia, it is also one of the most successful countries in the African continent to manage its economic resources and turn its revenues into a wheel for economic development.

The main reason behind Botswana’s unique model is its early interest in fighting corruption, which in 2018 led to placing the country first in Africa and 34th in the world in the Transparency International’s Least Corruption Index since 1995, surpassing countries such as Spain, South Korea and Italy. This index is highly credible, relying on a composite formula that combines expert ratings with opinion polls on the performance of state institutions in each country.

The institutional and legislative structure to combat corruption in Botswana has been in progress since the early 1990s, with the institutional formula used being presidential commissions set up by the president to investigate major corruption cases. This formula soon developed into a permanent anti-corruption agency called the Directorate of Corruption and Economic Crime, which was founded in 1994 to combat corruption, taking into account preventive measures as well. 

In addition to its work on corruption investigations, the establishment of the directorate helped spreadspread the anti-corruption culture throughout the country.

In 2009, anti-corruption efforts developed directly under the auspices of the president, resulting in the issuance of a comprehensive anti-corruption strategy and the establishment of the Financial Intelligence Agency, which closely monitors all financial activities and informs law enforcement agencies of any wrongdoing.

Rwanda: Ease of Doing business Index

In the latest World Bank report on ease of business engagement, Rwanda ranked 29th in the world ahead of advanced economies such as Spain, France and Japan. 

Mauritius ranked first in Africa, but has traditionally been present in the ranking since it was first released in 2006, while Rwanda advanced from 150th place in the world in 2008 through a long series of reform measures.

The measures adopted by Rwanda in recent years included facilitating the launch of new businesses and projects, facilitating electronic registration, reforms in the enforcement of business contracts, and litigation-related reforms in cases of damage caused by unforeseen exceptional circumstances as well as facilitating land tenure and dispute settlement mechanisms to take ownership transfer after only seven days and at a cost not exceeding 0.1 per cent of the value of possession. 

These reforms were strongly reflected in the overall economic performance indicators, with the number of newly registered domestic companies increasing from 418 in 2008 to 13,394 in 2017.

Rwanda’s reforms in the ease of engaging in business can’t be assessed solely by economic indicators with the predominantly youthful composition of Rwandan society and the global decline in the government’s employment ability.

The ease of engaging young people in business is one of the factors that help to open up prospects of the economic and social progress of these young people. Rwanda is in dire need of this, in light of the desire of the Rwandese leadership to eliminate the various economic, social and cultural conditions that have led the country to civil war more than 20 years ago.

Egypt: State Power Index

A few number of African countries allow their human, material and even cultural potentials to raise their overall strength to become a stronger nation among countries of the world in various fields.

Egypt is one of the most important African countries that adopts such a project, as according to the state power index, which was presented to the European Commission in Warsaw, Egypt ranks first in Africa and 19th in the world among 168 countries included in the project, which measures the development of the overall strength of each country in the world since the end of the Cold War in 1991 until the report was published in 2017.

Hereby, Egypt precedes a number of more advanced countries such as the Netherlands, Sweden, Belgium, and a number of regional powers such as Iran and Israel.

This indication is one of the most comprehensive in terms of the variables that are measured by military, economic, demographic, diplomatic, geographic, and even cultural indicators that bring together what can be called the variables of solid power and the change of the country’s soft power to a solid digital estimate.

The expansion of these indications enabled Egypt to occupy such an advanced position in light of the great development of its military ability, the steady population growth, as well as the frequent economic reforms to correct structural imbalances, and the effective engagement in achieving world peace in the Middle East and Africa. 

The cultural variety concerned with Egypt’s soft powerremains one of the most important sources of its overall strength, as it represents a strong pillar of peace and stability at home, and the values of the Egyptian culture are widely accepted in various circles.

With the success of African countries in progressing on various paths of reform, the continent can look ahead with cautious optimism.

This article was first published in: Egyptian Center for Strategic Studies, Africa 2019… Equilibrium Severs … Promising Future, Cairo, March 2019. 

Dr. Ahmed Amal
Chief of African studies unit

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