Kenya has been ranked the third best African country in a World Bank assessment of economy, reforms and governance covering 16 nations.
It scored 3.8 points out of a possible six. The top countries are Cape Verde and Ghana which attained middle-income status of $1,000 GDP per person in 2010 and 2011 respectively.
Kenya enacted a new Constitution in 2010 and the World Bank recently projected it would hit the middle-income status in 2016 on the basis of the current economic growth rate.
The ranking is part of the annual World Bank Country Policy and Institutional Assessment (CPIA) that rates the performance of poor countries and, since 1980, has been used to determine their allocation of zero-interest financing under the International Development Association, the World Bank Group’s fund for poorest countries.
Countries were ranked on the basis of 16 key development indicators covering four areas: economic management, structural reforms, policies for social inclusion and equity and public sector management and institutions.
Countries are rated on a scale of one (low) to six (high) for each indicator. The overall CPIA score reflects the average of the 16 indicators.
Others with a 3.8 score are Uganda, Rwanda, Senegal and Burkina Faso.
“In Africa, performance in economic management leads all other areas,” the Bank said in a statement. “Several years of prudent macroeconomic policies meant that African countries entered the 2008-09 global economic crisis with policy space to counter external shocks.”
Performance in structural policies is a close second, followed by social inclusion. Governance lags other areas though, shows the latest World Bank review of policies and institutions in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA).
“Despite these differences, the countries that top the CPIA scores tend to do well in all of them, suggesting a broad-based approach to reforms,” said the statement.
The Bretton Woods institution said politically fragile countries “tend to show uneven reform efforts, typically addressing macroeconomic management issues ahead of difficult and complex structural and governance reforms.”
The report shows an improved policy environment for growth and poverty reduction in 13 of the continent’s poorest countries.
The countries are Comoros, Congo Republic, Cote d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, The Gambia, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Togo, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
More broadly, most African countries show a stable or improved policy environment for development.
This positive trend is especially important given the more severe economic climate being weathered by other countries, most notably in the Developed World, said the Bank’s review.
“There was a concern that global economic turmoil would slow reforms across the continent,” said Shanta Devarajan, World Bank chief economist for the Africa region.
“But African policymakers generally continued their commitment to reform programmes during the global crisis, and some even accelerated them with the ultimate mission of improving the development prospects and economic well-being of their people.”
CPIA scores show a wide variation across countries, from a high of 4.0 for Cape Verde to a low of 2.2 for Eritrea and Zimbabwe.
The reviews shows that fragile and conflict-affected countries in the region show much lower scores than other states, reflecting the challenges they face, especially in public sector capacity.
Nevertheless, some of them are making fast progress. Three of the countries that improved the most are fragile states of Comoros, Cote d’Ivoire, and Zimbabwe.
The pace of reforms varies across the four areas covered by the CPIA. For example, where reforms are deeply political or by nature incremental, they tend to improve slowly and lag other areas.
“The CPIA is a valuable tool for governments, the private sector, civil society, researchers, and the media to monitor their country’s progress and benchmark it against progress in other countries,” said Punam Chuhan Pole, World Bank lead economist.
She said making the CPIA “more accessible” can spark debate in countries and stimulate support for more reforms to create jobs, improve the quality of health, education, and other key services, and improve the quality of life for Africans.