World Bank Report On Africa Shows Mixed Performance

The latest World Bank review of government policies and institutions in Africa showed that 20 per cent of countries improved their policy environment to boost growth and cut poverty in 2013. The review is the annual Country Policy and Institutional Assessment (CPIA), which rates the performance of poor countries. Since 1980, CPIA ratings have been used to determine the allocation of zero-interest financing and grants for the 39 African countries that are eligible for support from the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank Groups fund for the world’s poorest countries. CPIA scores assess the quality of countries policy and institutional progress using 16 development indicators in four areas: economic management, structural policies, policies for social inclusion and equity, and public sector management and institutions. An official statement issued by the World Bank and copied Ghana News Agency (GNA) said countries are rated on a scale of one (low) to six (high) for each indicator. The overall CPIA score reflects the average of the four areas of the CPIA. It said eight countries in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) had a rise in overall CPIA scores, and another eight saw the overall CPIA score decline. “The Democratic Republic of Congo scored the largest gain, from 2.7 to 2.9. A broad-based deepening of policy reforms lifted Rwanda’s CPIA score, putting it alongside Cape Verde and Kenya at the top of the score range. South Sudan and Eritrea both countries struggling with deep policy challenges had the lowest scores. “Countries transitioning from conflict, such as Côte d'Ivoire, recorded solid gains in their policy environment. At the same time, the Central African Republics CPIA rating was sharply lower, showing that conflict rapidly sets back policy gains, it added. Francisco Ferreira, Chief Economist, World Bank Africa Region said although there are a number of highly performing countries, African IDA-eligible countries on average continue to lag behind those in other regions in their policy and institutional ratings. He admitted there is still a lot of work to be done in Africa to meet the regions needs for effective public services, and transparent and efficient government operations. The Statement noted there were significant differences between country groups. The overall CPIA score for fragile countries, which are beset by deep governance challenges, was 2.8, much lower than the non-fragile group score of 3.5. CPIA score for Africa’s IDA-eligible fragile countries continues to be lower than that of fragile countries in other regions. Conversely, the quality of policies and institutions for Africa’s non-fragile countries is now similar to that of non-fragile countries elsewhere. Punam Chuhan-Pole, Lead Economist, World Bank and Author of the Report said fragile countries, especially post-conflict countries, accounted for over half of the improvement in overall CPIA scores in the region. He said the gains in post-conflict countries illustrate that peace and stability support the growth of governance, and underpin economic expansion, less poverty, and better living standards for the majority of people. “This year’s report expands coverage to include two countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region: Djibouti and Yemen. The latest CPIA scores for both countries are stable relative to 2012. Yet over a longer horizon, neither country has improved its overall CPIA rating since 2005, and Yemen’s policy environment score has declined. “The Arab Spring uprisings in 2011 brought down the CPIA ratings throughout the Middle East and North Africa region, with some short-term impact on Yemen. “The relatively strong performance of CPIA scores for the economic management indicator across countries indicates that these reforms are taking hold in Sub-Saharan Africa. Weaknesses in public sector governance, which include property rights, rule-based governance, and the quality of budgetary and financial management, continue to drag behind all other areas assessed by the CPIA indicators, highlighting the embedded challenges facing Africa country governments as they strive to bring quality lives to all of their citizens,” he added. The World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA) since 1960 has supported development work in 108 countries. Annual commitments have increased steadily and averaged about $16 billion over the last three years, with about 50 percent of commitments going to Africa.