Sierra Leone performed poorly in the 2020 Ibrahim Index

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 17 November 2020:

The latest Ibrahim Index on African Governance (IIAG) report published by the Mo Ibrahim Foundation yesterday, shows a decline in overall progress across the continent, for the first time since 2010. There has been a decline in security and the rule of law in some African countries such as Mali, Sierra Leone, and Guinea since 2010.

The 2020 Ibrahim Index on African Governance, identifies Mauritius, Cape Verde, Seychelles, Tunisia, and Botswana as the 2019 highest scoring countries. Angola and Somalia remain at the bottom but on a steady path of improvement.

But the good news is that “Sixty percent of Africans live in countries where governance is better in 2019 than it was in 2010,” according to Nathalie Delapalme, Executive Director of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation (MIF). “However, since 2015, this progress has been slowing, which is a bit worrying,” Delapalme told reporters.

The IIAG measures and monitors governance performance in 54 African countries annually. The Index comprises four categories: Safety and the rule of law, participation and human rights, sustainable economic opportunity, and human development. In 2019, human development was the highest-scoring of the four categories of governance.

The Mo Ibrahim Foundation defines governance as providing the political, social, and economic public goods and services that every citizen has the right to expect from their state. Over the last decade, progress in delivering good governance has been mixed. In most of the 54 countries that took part in the study, citizens are less satisfied with their country’s governance performance than ten years ago. For most countries, the deterioration in public perception of overall governance has even worsened since 2015.

So, how has Sierra Leone performed, especially in comparison with its neighbours – Liberia and Guinea, and also The Gambia – a first class tourist destination?

In terms of overall governance, Sierra Leone scored 51 out of 100, and ranked 24 out of the 54 countries studied. And there was 4.8 points increase in overall trend since 2010, with the following yearly governance scores – out of one hundred: 46.2 (2010) – 46.8 (2011) – 46.9 (2012) – 47.4 (2013) – 47.5 (2014) – 48.0 (2015) – 49.3 (2016) – 49.7 (2017 – 51.6 (2018) and 51.0 in 2019.

Looking at the country’s ranking out of the 54 countries, Sierra Leone has similarly made steady progress towards the middle order, starting with 30 (in 2010) – 28 (2011) – 31 (2012) – 29 (2013) – 29 (2014) –  29 (2015) –  25 (2016) –  26 (2017) – 24  (2018) –   24 (2019), with an overall change in ranking of  +6 since 2010.

Sierra Leone and its neighbour Liberia share similar governance scores, except for the last two years when Sierra Leone fared slightly better, with Liberia Scoring: 46.7 (in 2010) – 46.7 (2011) – 47.1 (2012) – 46.8 (2013) –  48.8 (2014) –  50.1 (2015) – 49.7 (2016) – 50.5 (2017) –  49.2 (2018) – 47.9 (2019).

And similar picture could be seen in terms of governance ranking as Libera and Sierra Leone struggled in the middle order of the continent’s ranking, with Liberia ranking  27 (in 2010) – 29 (2011) – 27 (2012) – 31 (2013) – 25 (2014) – 24 (2015) – 24 (2016) – 24 (2017) – 27 (2018), and 27 in 2019. Whiles Liberia made zero overall change in governance ranking since 2010, Sierra Leone on the other hand made an overall progress of six points as could be seen above, especially in 2018 and 2019 respectively.

Whiles Sierra Leone has since 2010 managed to keep its yearly governance scores above 46 out of 100, neighbouring Guinea has lagged behind Sierra Leone with its 41.2 score in 2010 – 41.4 (2011) – 41.9 (2012) – 41.7 (2013) – 41.6 (2014) –  41.8 (2015) – 43.0 (2016) – 43.1 (2017) –  42.9 (2018), and  42.5 (2019).

Between 2010 and 2019, Guinea improved its overall governance score by 1.3 compared to Sierra Leone with 4.8 points increase in trend since 2010.

In terms of governance ranking out of 54 countries, Guinea continues to rank behind Sierra Leone in  37th position in 2010, 36 (2011) – 38 (2012) – 39 (2013) – 40 (2014) – 39 (2015) – 38 (2016) – 37 (2017) – 39 (2018) – 39 (2019).

Between 2010 and 2019, Guinea’s governance ranking fell by an overall 2 positions, compared to Sierra Leone’s overall improvement of 6 positions.

However, when compared with The Gambia, neither Sierra Leone, Guinea or Liberia has been able to match The Gambia’s governance performance since 2010, especially since 2017, with an overall increase in governance score of 9.2, compared to Sierra Leone’s 4.8 and Guinea’s 1.3.

In terms of yearly governance scores, The Gambia scored 46.7 in 2010, 46.4 (2011) – 47.0 (2012) – 46.3 (2013) – 45.0 (2014) – 44.6 (2015) – 44.9 (2016) – 55.3 (2017) –   57.4 (2018), and 55.9 in 2019.

Gambia governance ranking out of 54 countries has been very impressive, especially between 2017 and 2019, ranking 27 in 2010, 30 (2011) – 30 (2012) – 32 (2013) –  34 (2014) –  34 (2015) – 34 (2016) –  16 (2017) – 15 (2018) – 16 (2019), showing a massive 11 points improvement in its overall ranking since 2010.

Looking at Sierra Leone’s scores across key areas of governance performance, tells a rather mixed, though disappointing story.

In terms of Security and Rule of Law, Sierra Leone scored 56.2 out of 100; participation, rights and inclusion – 56.8 out of 100; foundations for economic opportunity – 45.3 out of 100; human development – the Bio-led government’s flagship programme – 45.6 out of 100; security and safety – 84.2 out of 100.

This shows a decline in overall human development trend of -0.8 since 2010, ranking Sierra Leone at 21 out of 54 countries.

In terms of “Absence of Violent Events in State-Based Conflict”, Sierra Leone performed very well, scoring 99 out of 100, ranking 26 out of 54.

In Rule of Law and Justice – Sierra Leone scored 47.1 out of 100 but showing a 7.1 improvement in ranking since 2010 – with a ranking of 23 out of 54 countries.

Accountability and Transparency – Sierra Leone scored 49.4 out of 100 and ranking 17 out of 54 countries.

Anti-Corruption – another of President Julius Maada Bio’s flagship policy drive, Sierra Leone scored 43.9 out of 100, improving by 5.6 since 2010, ranking 20 out of 54.

In terms of Participation, Rights and Inclusion, Sierra Leone scored 56.8 out of 100, ranking a good 13th position out of 54 countries, though there is a slight decrease in overall trend of -1.1 since 2010.

In Public Administration – Sierra Leone scored 59.6 out of 100, with a +8 improvement in overall trend since 2010, ranking a good 11 out of 54 countries.

But it is in the Business Environment which the president needs to work on, if he is to attract investors into the country, that the government has fared poorly with a score of 42.5 out of 100, though showing a slight improvement in overall trend of +0.2 since 2010, ranking 39 out of 54.

And the same could be seen in terms of the Foundations for Economic Opportunity, with a score of 45.3 out of 100, ranking 34 out of 54 countries. There is an improvement in trend of +5 since 2010.

On Infrastructure, Sierra Leone scored 31.2 out of 100, despite the former government priding itself in this policy area as its greatest success after almost eleven years in power. But there was an overall improvement in trend of +13.3 between 2010 and 2019, ranking 39 out of 54 countries.

In terms of Rural Sector development, Sierra Leone scored below average with 48.1 out of 100, and a declining overall trend of -1.4 since 2010, ranking 32 out of 50.

A closer look at the government’s HUMAN DEVELOPMENT score of 45.6 out of 100  shows an interesting picture, scoring  51.2 out of 100 for Health;  Education – 51.0 out of 100; Social Protection – 36.8 out of 100; and Sustainable Environment – 43.4 out of 100.

So, what is the public’s perception of Sierra Leone’s overall governance performance?

The Public Perception of Overall Governance score is 56.7 out of 100, ranking 7 out of 38 countries that took part in this study – a fall of -2.1 in overall trend since 2010.

The Public Perception of Security and Rule of Law in Sierra Leone is scored at 66.1 out of 100; public perception of participation, rights and inclusion – 65.3 out of 100; public perception of economic opportunity foundations – 48 out of 100; and public perception of human development – 47.4 out of 100.

And it is the last two scores – the public’s perception of economic opportunity in the country, and the government’s flagship “human development” agenda that could become problematic for the government, who says it is spending 23% of its annual budget on education, especially its Free Quality Education programme for primary and secondary schools across the country.

Two years in office, and already there are serious criticisms of the Bio-led government’s handling of the economy as unemployment and poverty continue to rise, lack of transparency, the poor performance of school pupils at the recent West African Examinations Council (WASCE) exams, which showed only a fraction of pupils across the country have passed.

These criticisms are bound to continue into 2021 and beyond, if the government does not change its approach and ministerial leadership through a cabinet reshuffle, very soon. General and Presidential elections are due in 2023.


  1. Lawless regimes in those countries indeed. What a shame. The leaders of those lawless regimes will one day be bundled and dumped in Den Haag for their lawless behavior. God bless the ICC.

  2. As a nation we really need to uphold the rule of law, maintaining good human rights records. Over the years, our democracy has been in a state of anarchy which has however resulted to trampling on the rule of law.

  3. The collection, organization and interpretation of numerical facts – called data – is the science of STATISTICS. It is a very useful tool in many professions: including Economics, Medicine, Politics, Farming, Engineering, to name a few. Just as there are various methods of measuring weights, distances and other physical quantities, there are also numerous ways of collecting, organizing and interpreting numerical facts or data. And here is where Statistics can be very difficult, confusing and misleading – the methodology. So, it is very important not to look at data at face value, but to read data critically and with some amount of comprehension before making conclusions.

    Now, looking at one particular issue on this article: “on infrastructure, Sierra Leone scored 31.2 out of 100, despite the former government priding itself in this policy area as its greatest success after almost eleven years in power. But there was an overall improvement in trend of 13.3 between 2010 and 2019 ranking 39 out of 54 countries”. There is a confusion in the interpretation of data here. Is the statistic of “31.2” out of 100, calculated for the former administration or for the present one? There is no tabulation of the various yearly scores from 2010 – 2019. And, according to the methodology used in calculating trend, is this statistic (31.2) referring to 2010?

    If so, does it mean that the score on infrastructure for the present government is 44.5 (31.2+13.3) out of 100 in 2019? This is also another fundamental problem that Statistics poses. In arriving at the final number (the statistic, in this case 44.5), there may be a lot of hidden numerical facts. If the present government achieved a score of 44.5 out of 100 on infrastructure in 2019, there must have been a massive infrastructural development in the country, leading to a higher scale of employment. However, and on the contrary, this is not the narrative coming out of the country – where unemployment stands at 70% of the workforce. Statistics can be a very useful tool, but it can also be a somewhat magical or tricky instrument; as in polls of public opinion, especially during elections. (stand to be corrected)

    • Mr Turay – to answer your question: “Is the statistic of “31.2” out of 100, calculated for the former administration or for the present one? There is no tabulation of the various yearly scores from 2010 – 2019. And, according to the methodology used in calculating trend, is this statistic (31.2) referring to 2010?” – A simple answer is – no. The 31.2 out of 100 does not represent a score for any government in particular. Its the score for Sierra Leone on infrastructure for the ten year period between 2010 and 2019. That’s the overall score over one hundred for that period. How you interpret this from a policy perspective, is really up to you.

  4. In the Mo Ibrahim foundation good governance report, Sierra leone, that used to be called the Athens of West Africa, found it self stuck in no man’s land in terms of human economic development, tolerance, respect for the rule of law, and free speech. And that is when you compare us with the Gambia. What has happened in the Gambia, is a clear illustration, when a country goes through a dictatorship, and through hard work, and perseverance of its population and willingness on the part of politicians to explore ways of doing things differently everything is possible .

    It became apparently so when you think its only recently they managed to yank themselves from the strangle hold of Yayah Jammeh’s dictatorship, to freedom. The report shows the people of the Gambia and their political leadership have clearly learnt a lesson from their past. And have vowed not to make the same mistakes again. Clearly, that political will to learn from our past mistakes is what is lacking under the Bio government and his supporters. Otherwise, Sierra Leone should be right up there as the beacon of freedom in Africa. We went through a civil war.

    But listening to some of our politicians, it doesn’t sound like it. Our country should offer hope to the hopeless that says there is a third way of doing things. So Africans caught under the clutches of dictatorship and lack of economic opportunities, should look at our country and say that’s where I want my country to be. Right now Sierra Leone under Bio is the straggler in the race to the top. For the citizens of Sierra Leone, its just a struggle to survive.

  5. Every living creature that flies – birds,insects and bats have been equipped by Existence with a unique set of wings or appendages that enables them to fly with great ease.And it has been widely said that the only known thing that flies without wings is time – that shrewd entity that waits for no man.True.Africa now desperately needs strong wings to fly above the despair,failures,abject poverty and corruption. Mo Ibrahim,the World Bank,IMF and the Chinese can teach you how to soar and fly towards unimaginable heights but without wings it will be impossible to accomplish such an extraordinary feat.

    So Stargazer what must Africa and Sierra Leone urgently do now in order to grow wings and be able to fly? My friend since we cannot fly we must all strive very hard to give wings to our ideas and dreams – it means we must find ways to Inspire and Motivate our people to dream big and achieve great things – for all things are possible to those who truly believe. We must push ourselves to succeed because no one is going to do it for us..Run we must,like Spartan horses fearlessly into bloody war zones covered with thick smoke,unafraid and stout-hearted in search of a newer,magical dawn and a brighter,promising future for our people.

    Sierra Leone will always be in the bottom because we lack leaders that know how to inspire our
    people,encourage them to put tribalism,nepotism and corruption aside and strive for a common good that guarantees all our people genuine sustainable liberty,security and prosperity irrespective of their gender,religious,tribal,social and political affiliations. The Criminal SLPP Cabal have no credible plan to move Sierra Leone forward;They are experts at stoking fires of hatred and revenge – To hell with these good for nothings and their miserable Old soldier without a mission.

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