Botswana, Morocco and Ghana are the most politically stable countries in Africa

09 April 2018 4 min. read
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Botswana, Ghana, South Africa, Tunisia and Morocco are some of the most politically stable countries in Africa according to a new risk index released by Marsh. Across the board, however, Africa remains the globe’s poorest performing country in terms of political stability.

To say that the last two years have bred a volatile political environment across the globe would be an understatement. Brexit in the UK and the election of Donald Trump as president of the US served the dual purpose of polarising the domestic populations of some of the world’s largest economies, while simultaneously alienating them from the international arena.

Since these developments, tensions have escalated around the globe, which includes the most pertinent threat of a nuclear deadlock between the US and North Korea. On the economic end of things, the inward looking trade policies of the US have furrowed the brows of business leaders across the world. 

Africa has been no different, although the instability and change on the continent has had a positive tinge to it. Over the last year, several countries have seen political upheavals and transitions of power, the most notable of which came in South Africa and Zimbabwe. For some countries, these transitions went off smoothly, while others had to contend with escalations in violence and political slander.

Botswana, Morocco and Ghana are the most politically stable countries in Africa

So the world is navigating a high-risk period, and risk-management consulting firm Marsh has published its Political Risk Map 2018, to give an overview of the global risk landscape. The map is based on research conducted by BMI research, which revealed that Africa has the most risky political environment in the world, despite the fact that a number of countries saw substantial improvements in their risk scores.

In order to compare risk scenarios, the map rates countries on a scale from 1-100, wherein any score less than 49 is considered unstable. The rating is termed as the short-term political risk index (STPRI), which includes government influence on policy-making, social stability, risks of a coup, and other immediate threats to political authority.

Based on these metrics, despite most countries registering an increase in score, only six countries in Africa registered an STPRI of more than 50, classifying the rest of the continent as considerably unstable, including Nigeria, which is the continent's biggest economy. Five of these countries, namely South Africa, Namibia, Ghana, Morocco, and Tunisia scored between 50 and 59, of which Morocco had the highest score of 57.9.

Short term political risk scores in Africa

Botswana was the only country that made it to the 60-69 category with a score of 60.7. At the other end of the spectrum, conflict-ridden South Sudan predictably occupied the bottom spot on the continent, with a score of 20.7, immediately preceded by the Central African Republic with a score of 25.5.

In terms of changes over the last year, Marsh highlights the countries that underwent the largest transformations. Zimbabwe’s political transition was a smooth one, which has manifested itself in the country’s positive jump of 7.7 points; the second highest jump behind Angola, which jumped by 8.1 points.

The biggest drop of 9.2 was reported by Ivory Coast, reportedly due to the upcoming change of power in 2020, which has prompted a display of political might and unsettled the country’s political environment. Kenya’s contentious election brought about a drop in its score as well, driving it down by 8.4 points, compounded by the additional risk posed by the country’s public-debt levels. Other big drops were recorded by the Democratic Republic of Congo (7.3) and Gabon (6.7).

However, political instability is a worldwide phenomenon in the contemporary scenario, and other regions were not far behind in terms of risk profile. The Middle East is the second most unstable region on the map, with Yemen emerging as the riskiest country, followed closely by Syria and Iraq. Latin America came in third in terms of risky regions, driven down by low scores in Venezuela, Suriname, and Guyana.