• In a new assessment of the quality of government policies and institutions that support growth and poverty reduction in Africa, Rwanda has emerged as the continent’s top performer, according to a new World Bank Review.

    The latest report which was released in Abidjan Tuesday shows that Rwanda achieved the highest score in Sub-Saharan Africa in an index named Country Policy and Institutional Assessment (CPIA). It also indicates progress for a few countries but minimal or deteriorating scores for the majority of nations on the continent.

    Out of the 38 countries under review, seven registered improvement, while another 12 recorded a decline in their performance.

    “With a series of policy reforms, Rwanda continues to lead the region with a score of 4.0, followed by Cabo Verde, Kenya, and Senegal all with scores of 3.8, while more than one-fifth of countries registered scores between 3.5 and 3.7,” reads part of the statement. “Improvements in several policy areas reversed the slide in Ghana’s score, lifting the country’s CPIA score from 3.4 in 2014 to 3.6 in 2015,” it added.

    To arrive at the findings, 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. Countries are rated on a scale of 1 (low) to 6 (high) for each indicator.

    Apart from assessing the level of development in such countries based on their policies and institutional responses to poverty, World Bank also rates the challenges of countries in a bid to determine the allocation of low to zero-interest financing and grants for countries that are eligible for support from the World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA).

    Conflicts weaken policy and governance

    Countries transitioning out of violence recorded modest improvements, a case in point being Côte d’Ivoire (3.3). Although the country has enjoyed four consecutive years of wide-ranging reforms and improvements in CPIA scores, which saw a stronger performance in equity of public resource use in 2015, this did not translate into an improvement in the country’s aggregate CPIA score, the report showed.

    Countries that have been experiencing unrest such as Burundi (3.1) and The Gambia (2.9) saw the CPIA ratings drop from last year’s, laying emphasis that conflict and weak governance can set back policy gains and development progress.

    “The decline in performance was particularly evident in Burundi and South Sudan,” said Punam-Chuhan Pole, World Bank lead economist and author of the report. “The escalation of violence and political and ethnic conflict underscore the need to address the drivers of fragility and to make public institutions more accountable for delivering human development services, security, and justice to citizens.”

    The report noted that fragile countries continue to lag behind non-fragile countries in the continent as the latter have comparable scores to non-fragile countries around the world. On average, even though “there are a number of highly performing countries, African countries continue to lag behind those in other regions in their policy and institutional ratings,” says Albert Zeufack, World Bank Chief Economist for Africa.

    Zeufack called for urgent action to reverse the downward trend being witnessed in many countries due to “the current account and fiscal balances, declining reserve positions, depreciating currencies, higher inflation, and rising debt burdens.”