Annual Assessment of Policies and Institutions in Africa Shows Slippage in Some Policy Areas, Gains in Others [press release] (allAfrica.com)

The latest World Bank review of government policies and institutions in Africa shows that 26% of countries made broad progress in supporting development and poverty reduction in 2014.

The review is the annual World Bank Country Policy and Institutional Assessment (CPIA) Africa analysis, which rates the performance and challenges of poor countries. Since 1980, CPIA ratings have been used to determine the allocation of zero-interest financing and grants for countries that are eligible for support from the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank Group’s fund for the world’s poorest countries.

CPIA scores are based on a scale of 1-6, with 6 the highest, and are measured using 16 indicators in four areas: economic management, structural policies, policies for social inclusion and equity, and public sector management and institutions. The overall CPIA score reflects the average of the four areas of the CPIA.

The average CPIA score for these African countries was 3.2 in 2014.

Ten countries saw an uptick in the overall CPIA score in 2014. A series of policy reforms boosted Rwanda’s CPIA score to 4.0 moving it to the top of the list, just above Cabo Verde’s 3.9 score. Kenya, Senegal, and Tanzania followed closely behind, all with scores of 3.8. African countries transitioning out of violence saw modest improvements. For the fourth consecutive year, Côte d’Ivoire’s focus on a broad range of policy reforms lifted the CPIA score to 3.3. By contrast, the Central African Republic saw the CPIA score drop from last year’s rating, underscoring that conflict quickly deteriorates policy gains.

“While there are several strong performers in Africa, the lagging CPIA scores for fragile countries in the region underscores that policy and institutional reforms are still very much needed in Africa,” says Punam Chuhan-Pole, Acting Chief Economist, World Bank Africa Region and Author of the Report. “Efficient, transparent government operations with a focus on policies for poor families will go a long way towards improving the delivery of basic services, creating job opportunities and boosting the quality of life for millions of men and women in Africa.”

Sub-Saharan Africa has 17 of the 34 countries that are classified as being fragile. A comparison of fragile countries shows that Africa’s fragile countries continue to lag fragile countries elsewhere. The score gap between these two country groups narrowed in 2014 due to the deterioration in the score for fragile countries in other regions. At the same time, Africa’s non-fragile countries continued to post scores that were similar to those of non-fragile countries outside the region.

This year’s report includes two countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region: Djibouti and Yemen. The scores for both countries remained steady relative to 2013. All cluster scores were unchanged except for a slight weakening in one policy cluster in each country. Since 2008, neither country has improved its overall rating while Yemen’s overall CPIA score actually declined.

A climb in scores for governance policy reforms in 2014 was seen in nearly one-fourth of the region’s countries, more than twice the number of countries with declines. The largest progress was in the quality of budgetary and financial management: Chad, Ethiopia, Lesotho, Malawi, Uganda, and Zimbabwe all saw governance scores climb with reforms and institutional efforts to increase accountability in public expenditures.

“Further progress in the quality of governance throughout Africa is desirable,” added Chuhan-Pole. “The review notes that several countries are linking policy priorities to state budgets, one of several good governance measures that can be transformative for social and economic development. There has also been progress in civil society’s access to information on public policies and the budget. But reform of the legal and judicial system has lagged.”

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