Two landmark moments in Africa’s ongoing transformation.

Though sub-Saharan Africa remains the worst performing region in the most recent Legatum Prosperity Index, it has seen encouraging progress in the past year in five of the Index’s nine pillars, including a notable improvement in Governance. And this promising trend looks set to continue.

Tackling public sector corruption was a key theme of Liberian president George Weah’s inaugural address in Monrovia, at an event which marked the West African nation’s first peaceful transition of power in nearly half a century. Weah, the former Ballon d’Or-winning footballer, who first ran for president in 2005, focused on the persistent scourge of corruption, which has eroded popular confidence in successive governments and hampered Liberia’s economic and social progress. His inauguration comes less than fifteen years after the end of Liberia’s fourteen year civil war which left a quarter of a million people dead and displaced more than a million others.

Popular intolerance of systemic corruption also appears to have sealed the fate of South Africa’s president. Jacob Zuma, whose second five-year term was due to expire next year, is expected to stand down before the State of the Union address, scheduled for 8 February. Public outcry over widespread misuse of public office by members of the Zuma administration formed part of the backdrop to the ANC’s recent leadership election. The narrow victory of deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa has been viewed as a watershed moment in the history of post-apartheid South Africa, which dropped four ranks in this year’s Index.

Why governance is such an essential component of prosperity

The nature of a country’s governance has a material impact on its prosperity. The rule of law, strong institutions and regulatory quality contribute significantly to economic growth. Effective, fair and accountable governments increase public confidence, and, ultimately, result in higher levels of life satisfaction among citizens.

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