Nation Media Group (NMG) through its fast growing publication “The East African” run a captivating story in its magazine section, two weeks ago, rating the performance of Africa’s leaders and providing a score for each
For those who missed the story, NMG index dubbed “The African Presidents’ index” ranked all African Heads- of-State and gave a mark where the best President/Head of Government scored an A+ and the worst scored an F-
NMG had developed its own index but also relied on other indexes like the Mo Ibrahim index on African Governance, the democracy index, Transparency International Corruption Index, the Freedom House’s Press Freedom index and the UN Human Development index to come up with a final ranking.
It basically came up with a final score on which the political leaders are judged as an average of the scores from all the above indexes.
To be honest, I normally despise some of these rankings simply because they have become a neo-colonial tool that is used to constantly display doom on the African continent and maintain the story line that nothing good comes out of this continent.
Particularly of disregard, is that these surveys conducted most times, by interns, do not take into account the realities on the ground and instead assume a universal template as if to mean that the conditions in the Sahara must be the same as those in the Volcanic desert highlands of Iceland.
Coming to this latest NMG Political leader’s rankings, I found a sharp contrast or better put, a disagreement between what the NMG own research team came up with and what these other international scorecards have fed us with in the past.
Take an example, unlike the numerous foreign indexes where Rwanda scores averagely, the NMG’s own political index, which has almost the same benchmarks (democracy, human rights, press freedom, public policies, corruption fight etc) gives Rwanda’s leadership an 80 percent pass mark.
According to the research done over a year, NMG’s Political leaders’ index considered how a leader took power or whether a leader extended or broken term limits. It also measured investments in infrastructure, food security, democratic space, creative public policies and how they are effectively executed, globalization initiatives and the extent to which a leader invests in national building.
Fortunately, these are the same benchmarks used by the other indexes cited above. But where’s NMG’s own findings painted a forward-looking picture on Rwanda, the others have always sang the same song!
So why this sharp contrast? Why the huge mismatch? Why would the NMG political index say President Paul Kagame scores 8/10 and hence an A score whereas these different indexes produced from western capitals say otherwise?
The answer probably lies in what Kigali and some re-known Africa scholars and pan-Africans have always advanced. Our friends sent from London, Paris or New York to carry out these researches do not simply understand the terrain. They fail to analyze issues putting them in the right context in accordance with historical perspectives, cultural diversities, environmental differences and the prevailing socio-economic dimensions.
In other words, they use the same yardstick for measurement and yet the situations in our countries are totally different. A peasant in Jos State of Nigeria will never smile on seeing a pizza. But put a plate of ‘fufu’ before him and you see the reaction! And yet some of our foreign friends might consider the fufu or yam as a poor meal!
This is what brings out the difference with the specific NMG scorecard. Probably because this scorecard was carried out with close input from local researchers, who are evidently better placed to understand the reality within the African setting, their findings completely differ with what the MO Ibrahim and likes have come up with in the past.
For example, President Paul Kagame, according this index on African Presidents, scores a straight A for promoting democracy, investing in infrastructure, ensuring stable food environment for his people and being creative in forming effective public policies.
Now, given the historical background of these countries in comparison with our very own Rwanda, then Rwanda’s scorecard is much more impressive. None of these nations nor their leaders inherited a mess like we had here in Rwanda. None of them can boost of having turned around a would-be failed state into a functioning country with a voice on the world stage today.
Therefore, forget the overall ranking that was given to Rwanda (C-) after NMG came up with an overall average incorporating previous international or rather foreign indexes. Their specific ranking that rated President Kagame 8/10 is a true reflection of his achievements. But it also offers lessons to those friends of ours who jet in and out and at the end of the day publish unrealistic findings.
Since this is the first index produced by this fast-growing media outlet, we can only hope that in future they do not dilute their findings with these traditional ones. Remain original and true to the African reality.