October 2009
John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University

All citizens of all countries desire to be governed well. That is what citizens want from the nation-states in which they live. Thus, nation-states in the modern world are responsible for the delivery of essential political goods to their inhabitants. That is their purpose, and has been their central legitimate justification since at least the seventeenth century. These essential political goods can be summarized and gathered under five categories: Safety and Security; Rule of Law, Transparency, and Corruption; Participation and Human Rights; Sustainable Economic Opportunity; and Human Development. Together, these five categories of political goods epitomize the performance of any government, at any level. No one, whether looking to her village, municipality, province, state, or nation willingly wants to be victimized by crime or to live in a society without laws, freedom, a chance to prosper, or access to decent schools, well-run hospitals, and carefully-maintained roads.

This 2009 Index of African Governance measures the degree to which each of these five categories of political goods is provided within Africa’s fifty-three (forty-eight in prior Indexes) countries. By comprehensively measuring the performance of government in this manner, that is, by measuring governance, the Index is able to offer a report card on the accomplishments of each government for the years being investigated—2000 and 2002 (for baseline indications) and 2005, 2006, and 2007 (the last years with reasonably complete available data for nearly all African nation-states). For those analysts who would like separately to explore the performance of countries on various aspects of governance, the Index includes scores in each of the five categories.

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