IOA Position Papers

Looking at the data: Lessons on best African economic policy

ACBR analysis in brief | More than the private sector, governments determine the success or failure of African economies. Government policies that propel economies toward prosperity should be shaped on best practices discernible in an analysis of Africa’s 54 countries’ economies in IOA’s 2017 Africa Country Benchmark Report.

The economies of Africa’s many and diverse countries prosper or fail on the basis of their government’s political performance, which invariably shapes their response to economic issues. Examples range from South Africa, where the national currency is the world’s most volatile because investors tie the rand to governmental conflicts, to Africa’s well-performing small island economies that prosper because of governmental foresight, with progressive economic policies. An examination of the lead economic indexes on Africa has drawn these insights as part of IOA’s 2017 Africa Country Benchmark Report (ACBR) assessments of overall national performances. Other factors determine the success or failure of economies, and from these lessons can be drawn on the best and worst practices.

The 2017 ACBR analyses 34 international indexes and 30 key indicators, and from this data specific to the economic field, the top five economic ‘takeaways’ emerge. The data points to commonalities found in African counties’ economic successes and failures, and offer insight into countries’ overall economic performances, from trade and investment to equality and stability.

Here are five important lessons that should be learned from, demonstrated by countries that perform well in the ACBR’s economics section:
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Looking at the data: Lessons on best African social policy

ACBR analysis in brief | Poverty and a lack of individual rights has hindered social progress in Africa. However, some of the continent’s 54 countries have shown how to establish winning policies and succeed with national development by uplifting living standards and ensuring democratic rights.

Africa’s countries are as varied as their cultural and historic circumstances, as well as their environments and natural resources. All emerged from the colonial era encumbered by poverty, and all went in several directions to achieve social development. IOA’s 2017 Africa Country Benchmark Report (ACBR) assesses which African countries have succeeded in developing effective social welfares and can offer lessons to other developing African countries. The conflict between honouring traditional practices and achieving human rights requires compromise, with traditional authorities honoured with customary respect but citizens allowed to pursue their aspirations in business and politics unfettered by state constraints. Progressive social welfare policies result in improved conditions for all people in a country. Governments can pay for these programmes from revenues earned by well-performing economies, made possible by open, equitable societies where individuals are allowed to think, imagine and ultimately prosper.

The top five social welfare ‘takeaways’ from the 2017 ACBR were discerned by analysing data from the 34 international indexes and 30 key indicators that were incorporated into the survey. A holistic view of a country’s performance results clearly shows how economic and political factors work to the success or detriment of social progress. Out of this evaluation emerges some commonalities found in African counties that score highest in their people’s education, freedoms, health and safety.

Here are five important lessons learned from countries that perform well in the ACBR’s society section:

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Africa’s data revolution: Accelerating development through data-driven decision-making

By Jonathan Mundell, CEO – In On Africa (IOA) (1)

Analysis in brief | It is essential that Africa’s data revolution be viewed as the joint responsibility of governments, international agencies, civil society and the private sector. Good quality data enables forward thinking and informed decision-making – both of which are critical in efforts to realise and maximise Africa’s huge potential.

Africa data revolution is just getting started and it is the responsibility of not just governments, but also international agencies, the private sector and civil society, to drive growth and development through data-driven decision-making.

Across the globe, great strides are being taken in the technological advancements of the collection, management, dissemination and use of data. Private- and public-sector entities are increasingly realising the importance of quality data to inform decision-making and accelerate growth and development. This is as much true for governments, who require large and growing amounts of data to inform policy and good governance, as this is for private companies, the media, civil society and international organisations, who depend on data to inform effective planning and strategy.

We are living in the age of data and amidst a revolution being steered by quite unexpected revolutionaries — data scientists, statisticians and computer geeks! Never before has data been viewed as so valuable and necessary. Data is indeed ‘the new oil’ (a term coined by British mathematician Clive Humby in 2006) and the most sought-after commodity of this digital era.

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Looking at the data: Lessons on good African governance

Analysis in brief | Good governance policy and bad, irresponsible and autocratic governments all are analysed in a new compilation of major indexes and data gauging African nations’ governmental performances. With 54 individual governments in Africa following unique paths, from democracy to despotism, some best practices can be discerned.

While African governance responds to a variety of economic and social factors, all African countries assessed in IOA’s 2017 Africa Country Benchmark Report (ACBR) succeed or fail in the task of well-functioning and representational government by how well their governance institutions are founded on a handful of principles. Any deviation from these principles, such as the sanctity of individual freedoms and the independence of national courts from political interference, compromises both governance and the political and social development of a country.

The top five governance ‘takeaways’ from the 2017 ACBR represent fundamental factors that became apparent through the evaluation of data from the 34 international indexes and 30 key indicators that comprise the survey. This comprehensive approach provides statistical evidence on some political propositions that seem obvious, even without the evidence of data, such as the importance of individual freedoms. Other revelations are more obscure until illuminated by the spotlight of data analysis, such as excessive military spending being a drag on a country’s growth.

Here are five important lessons learned from African countries that performed well in the ACBR’s governance analysis:

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Looking at the data: Five key business insights into Africa today

Analysis in brief | More than just economic factors can and do affect a business climate. A compilation and in-depth assessment of major data and indexes gauging African nations’ business performances finds commonalities in the most prosperous countries and offers direction to profitable investment.

Businesses only looking at economic data to judge where in Africa to invest are similar to blinkered horses who only see a fraction of the entire picture. IOA’s 2017 Africa Country Benchmark Report (ACBR) presents the most comprehensive view of the intermingling factors that impact one another in the real, complex world of national growth, like balls careening on a snooker table. Social factors influence business growth, while business performance affects a society’s welfare, with political implications.

Five key business “takeaways” from the 2017 ACBR derive from many factors but all provide important signals for understanding conditions that influence business success in Africa. ACBR does more than list data. Analysis of 34 international indexes and 30 key indicators — nearly 20,000 data points in total — separates transitory developments from the permanent conditions that hinder or boost a country’s business climate.

Here are five important lessons for the business community that emerge from the ACBR’s holistic approach to African data:

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