IOA Position Papers

Africa’s Top 10 most food-secure countries

Finding enough to eat has been an ages-old challenge for Africans. Against a physical environment often hostile to agricultural and pastoral activity – deserts, mountains and dense forests – the population explosion of the past century has made the goal of food security an ever more difficult accomplishment. More and more people compete for a finite amount of agricultural production. However, political will by governments to prioritise food security, combined with use of new crop and food production technologies, has allowed some countries to break the chains of food insecurity.

Olive tree plantation in Tunisia. Olive oil is Tunisia’s largest agricultural export. Image courtesy: Getty Images. Available at

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Djibouti welcomes India: the strategic motivations for India’s visit

By Mandira Bagwandeen, Independent Analyst[1]

Analysis in brief | The newly elected Indian president’s visit to Djibouti and Ethiopia is indicative of India’s readiness to develop closer economic and strategic ties with the Horn of Africa, especially against the backdrop of China’s growing presence in the Indian Ocean region.

Indian president, Ram Nath Kovind signs agreement on bilateral consultations with Djiboutian president, Ismaïl Omar Guelleh in October 2017. Photo courtesy: Press Trust of India. Available at:

Key Points:

  • India recognises that the Horn of Africa, especially Djibouti, will be instrumental in realising the actualisation of the Asia-Africa Growth Corridor
  • With China’s growing presence in the Indian Ocean region, India is aware of the need to also expand their presence in key maritime trade and connectivity regions to keep China in check
  • Unable to compete with China’s massive infrastructural investments in the Horn of Africa, India will have to draw on their strengths and present themselves as another investment partner

In early October, India’s newly elected president, Ram Nath Kovind, visited Djibouti and Ethiopia in his first foreign trip since taking office in July 2017. His choice of destinations suggests that India is finally taking the geopolitical and geostrategic significance of the Horn of Africa seriously, and Djibouti in particular. The visit occurred against the backdrop of the recently established Asia-Africa Growth Corridor (AAGC), an economic co-operation agreement between India and Japan that aims to connect African and Asian economies through new and ancient maritime networks.

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Why the ‘third-term debate’ matters and the difficulties in finding resolution

By Terence Corrigan[1]

Analysis in Brief | Constitutional amendments to prolong the tenure in office of incumbent presidents pose challenges to democracy and constitutionalism in Africa. This phenomenon is poorly understood, and options for dealing with this occurrence are limited.

Key Points:

  • Prolonging presidential terms is a growing phenomenon in Africa, at odds with efforts on the continent to forge a governance culture rooted in democracy and constitutionalism
  • Term extensions do not threaten the existence of democracy and constitutionalism but are profoundly debasing them, undermining their ability to demand accountability and allowing personalised politics to develop
  • Attempts at countering this practice have met with mixed success and, ultimately, concerns about long-term incumbency is an expression of concerns for a broader environment of weak institutions and problematic political culture

Profound uncertainty surrounds Zimbabwe, as President Robert Mugabe refuses to leave office despite vocal demands to do so by civil society and political parties (including his own), and the intervention of the military. Having held power for 37 years, Mugabe has been the central figure in his country’s political life. His interests and outlook have shaped the contours of politics in Zimbabwe, with some deeply damaging consequences for governance: corruption, the personalisation of power, the atrophy of institutions and political processes, and the growth of insidious patronage networks. A post-Mugabe Zimbabwe will have to reckon with the impact of these pathologies for years to come. This is a stark warning about the dangers of extended incumbency – something that is challenging democracy and constitutionalism throughout the continent.

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Top 10 technologically advanced countries in Africa

African countries have a long road to travel to advance to the level of technological capacity common in the developed world. However, some African countries are making strides to boost their communications infrastructure, establish ‘technology parks’ and increase spending on research and development. Most of this government-sponsored activity is done in conjunction with efforts to diversify economies away from dependency on commodities and towards more industrialisation. Once the groundwork has been established and the private sector accepts that a country is serious about becoming more technologically savvy, then private investment can enter to further boosts technology advancement.

The Ebene Cyber Tower located in Ebene Cybercity in Port Louis, Mauritius. Construction began in 2001, with the suburb being promoted as a new information technology hub for Mauritius and as a link between African and Asian markets.
Image courtesy Jean François Koenig, Wikimedia Commons

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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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South Africa must modernize its manufacturing industry to mutually benefit from its partnership with China


Analysis in brief | South Africa (SA) has long endured an unequal trade partnership with China that has significantly impacted its manufacturing sector. China on the other hand has initiated plans to elevate its manufacturing industries over the coming decades by means of implementing innovative technologies to create the smart factory. Given China’s move, SA cannot afford to miss out on this opportunity to follow suit. By adopting industry 4.0 technologies, SA stands to even the playing field with China that has long been overdue.

Key points:

Industry 4.0 provides a vision for the digitalisation in future manufacturing creating a new customer-oriented, automated, flexible and faster industry. Image courtesy: Aethon, available at:
  • SA needs to change its current course of trajectory of exporting its natural resources to China in order to create jobs and see its economic growth thrive.
  • The ‘Made in China 2025’ initiative outlines China’ plan to elevate its manufacturing industry by implementing innovative technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT), big data, cloud computing, 3D printing and artificial intelligence to create the smart factory.
  • To prepare SA to compete with the likes of advanced countries, SA businesses intend to invest approximately US$ 459 million annually over the next five years to ready themselves for the impact of the fourth industrial revolution.

South Africa’s manufacturing sector is at risk given China’s monopoly of South Africa’s natural resources

For decades, China has purchased South Africa’s natural resources for its own production industry. This has led to an increase in South African exports, resulting in the commodity boom. China imports South Africa’s primary goods, but sells manufactured products to the global market. China can rapidly produce cheaper manufactured goods, given the country’s larger and cheaper labour workforce. This is one of several factors that has contributed to South Africa’s de-industrialisation and shrinking manufacturing sector, negatively impacting upon the country’s economic growth.

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African Leadership Matters – An IOA Position Paper Series

Thuli Madonsela, South Africa’s former Public Protector

By Prof Jo-Ansie van Wyk (1)

Madonsela – The woman responsible for the transformational change of the Office of the Public Protector in South Africa. Image Courtesy: WaAfrika Online. Available at:

Key Points:  

  • During Madonsela’s tenure, she significantly transformed the Office of the Public Protector and led the strategic re-orientation and organisational renewal of her Office with the conclusion of the Office’s seventh Strategic Plan review.
  • Madonsela also re-organised the Office’s triaging process to improve its efficiency in the handling of cases which resulted in an increase in public access to the Office and the high number of investigative reports initiated by her Office.
  • In order to maintain the integrity of the Office, no performance bonuses were paid to staff, which in addition to the other changes made, led to an improved overall public trust in the Office.

Founding of the Office of the Public Protector

With the advent of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, Act 108 of 1995 (hereafter the Constitution) in 1996 came the creation of “Chapter 9 institutions”. Chapter 9 of South Africa’s post-apartheid Constitution contains the list and mandate of state institutions established to support constitutional democracy in South Africa. These so-called Chapter 9 institutions include the Public Protector (i.e. Ombudsman); the Human Rights Commission; Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities; and more.

According to the Constitution, all Chapter 9 institutions:

  1. Are independent and subject only to the law of the land;
  2. Must be assisted and protected by other organs of state;
  3. Are free from interference by any person or organ of state;
  4. Are accountable to the National Assembly.

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