Kenya's governance record slowed down over the last 10 years, weighed down by weak enforcement of laws in recent years, the latest report by the Mo Ibrahim Foundation shows.
The 2022 Ibrahim Index of African Governance (IIAG) launched Wednesday shows that African governance has stagnated in the three years since 2019, threatened by deteriorating security and democracy.
Kenya ranked 13th out of 54 countries in overall governance with a score of 58.7 out of 100, a 3.1 points improvement over the last decade.
"However, the pace of improvement has slowed down over the most recent five years (2017-2021)," the report notes singling out corruption, worsening safety and the rule of law.
The period was during the second term of retired President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto (2017-2022). Dr Ruto succeeded Mr Kenyatta in the August 9, 2022 election.
The fight against graft has failed to deliver much, with the anti-corruption watchdog often accused of being used to fight political battles.
In their last term, the relationship between the two soured, compounded by Mr Kenyatta's war on corruption, which was seen by his deputy as politically driven and aimed at political and corporate leaders perceived to be his allies. Many of the graft cases of high-profile persons associated with President Ruto were either quashed or withdrawn when he came into power.
"In Kenya, citizens' satisfaction with governance has deteriorated since 2012... The biggest decline was registered in the public perception of human development sub-section, with dissatisfaction growing in all indicators," the report notes.
The report shows that while Kenya made big strides in infrastructure, social protection and welfare, women's rights, and health in the last decade, it recorded the largest drop in accountability and transparency, down 11.4 points, citizen participation (4.3), and public administration (3.5).
Countries are scored in four categories; sustainable economic opportunity, participation and human rights, human development, and safety and the rule of law – the only area Kenya recorded a decline in the review period.
The IIAG, a brainchild of Sudanese-British billionaire Mo Ibrahim, has been assessing levels of governance in Africa since its launch in 2007 and seeks to promote sound policies for growth.
Rwanda is the best governed in East Africa, with 59.1 points to stand at position 12 in Africa, followed closely by Kenya (13).
Tanzania is ranked 21, Uganda (31), Ethiopia (32), Burundi (43) and DR Congo (49). Somalia and South Sudan are the worst-ranked countries in the listing at 53 and 54, respectively.
Save for Kenya, Ethiopia and Burundi, the other regional countries recorded a slip in their performance in the last decade.
"Unless we quickly address this concerning trend, the years of progress we have witnessed could be lost, and Africa unable to reach in due time the SDGs or Agenda 2063.
"Our continent is uniquely exposed to the converging impacts of climate change, more recently Covid-19, and now the indirect impact of the Russia-Ukraine war. Governments must address all at once the ongoing lack of prospects for our growing youth, worsening food insecurity, lack of access to energy for almost half the continent's population, heavier debt burden, and growing domestic unrest. Coups are back, and democratic backsliding is spreading," Mr Ibrahim said in a statement.
Mauritius kept the top spot, followed by Seychelles, Tunisia, Cape Verde, Botswana, and South Africa, all of which were in the top five in 2020.