Fewer people are dying in violent conflict (both in absolute figures and as a proportion of the total population of humans) than at any time since World War II. It is hard to believe this amid the flood of images and stories of violent death (state-sanctioned or otherwise) in countries like Mexico, the United States, Burundi, or Syria.
Foreign Policy, in its July/August issue has 2010’s failed states index. The Continent has 12 of the top 20 worst performers on this index, with Somalia, Chad, Sudan, Zimbabwe and the DRC being in the top five respectively. Kenya is 13th on this index, performing worse than Niger, Guinea-Bissau and Sierra Leone, among other basket cases. The substantive meaning of the rankings aside (I’d rather be in Kenya than in Sierra Leone on any day), the index is a grim reminder of how badly governed the Continent is. The best ranked mainland African state is Ghana, at number 54. Mauritius leads the Continent at number 30, out of 177.
Also in the FP issue is an exposé of Bozize’s Central African Republic. I used to think that he was doing a relatively good job. Turns out he is full of bucket-loads of horse manure:
“Bozizé has fared no better than his predecessors, ruling a territory the size of Texas with a GDP significantly smaller than that of Pine Bluff, Arkansas.”
And don’t miss out on Ayittey’s ranking of the world’s worst dictators. Our good friend Rob is second only to the crazy guy who runs North Korea.
Lastly, I must say something about my favorite punching bag Idriss Deby’s Chad. Idriss Deby is a study in ineffectual leadership and is on the list of Africa’s many ‘wasted dictatorships.’ In 2006 he successfully conned his way out of the World Bank brokered plan to use revenue from the Chad-Cameroon pipeline to reduce poverty among his country’s extremely impoverished 10.3 million souls. He now uses most of Chad’s oil revenue to fund his poorly-run security forces that remain vulnerable to any rebel group that can land its hands on a technical. But with over 1.5 billion barrels in reserves and a world thirsty for oil, it appears that this Zaghawa “warrior” is here to stay, his incompetence notwithstanding.
The HDI numbers tell it all. The literacy rate in Chad is at a dismal 25%. Life expectancy stands at 48 years. 80% of Chadian’s live on less than a dollar a day. The growth rate of the economy, -1% last year, -0.2% in 2008 and 0.6% in 2007, cannot keep up with the population growth rate of more than 2% (despite a rather high infant mortality rate of 97 deaths/1000 live births) – which means that Chadians’ living standards will continue to decline into the foreseeable future. The bulk of Chadians (more than 80%) make do with subsistence agriculture. Oil, cotton, cattle and gum arabic are the country’s main export commodities.
sources: FP and The CIA World Factbook