Africa has become more unsafe for residents in the last decade.

A recent report, titled the 2022 Ibrahim Index of African Governance by the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, shows that Africa is less safe now than 10 years ago, making it harder for the continent to have good governance.

The report shows that nearly 70% of Africa’s population lives in a country where security and rule of law are worse than in 2012, mainly because of more violence against civilians and armed conflict. This increase in violence against civilians and armed conflict has made it increasingly difficult for businesses to operate and for people to earn a living. Businesses struggle with attracting investment, hiring and retaining workers, and moving goods.

The least safe places to live in Africa are Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea, Somalia, and South Sudan due to long-lasting war, terrorism, and organized crime. The safest countries are Seychelles, Mauritius, Botswana, Cape Verde, and Namibia. Seychelles has improved the most in terms of security during the study period.

Conflicts bring many consequences, ranging from loss of lives to hunger and displacement. But one of the most severe is how it gets in the way of governance and policymaking. It’s difficult to bring up policies that foster prosperity in the middle of insecurity. But even leaders have not been safe: since 2012, there have been 23 successful and attempted coups in Africa, says the report.

The war in eastern DRC between the government and M23 rebels is one example of conflict in Africa. Rwanda, accused of supporting M23, made things worse when they shot down a DRC fighter jet. Thousands were killed in the war and hundreds of thousands were forced to leave their homes.

Another conflict is the fight over the Tigray region in northern Ethiopia. This war made a record 5.1 million people leave their homes, according to UN estimates. Then, about  60,000 people fled to eastern Sudan, which also has security challenges of its own. By the time the region reached a peace deal, it had already lost $410 million to internet shutdowns and was at risk of a currency devaluation.

Al-Shabaab militants have been the biggest security threat in eastern Africa for 12 years. They have carried out many terror attacks, killing people in Somalia, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, and Ethiopia.

In northern Nigeria, over 35,000 people have been killed since 2009, when Boko Haram started a war to take over the government and make an Islamic state. At least 3 million people had to leave their homes. Other violent groups like Da’esh, Al-Qaeda, and their allies are taking advantage of the unstable situation in countries like Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, and Guinea to gain more power.

South Africa has had several deadly waves of violence against Africans from other countries since 2008, causing conflict and criticism of the South African government. In all these waves of violence, migrant-owned businesses were burnt down and looted. In 2015, Nigerian businesses lost 4.6 million rands to a single wave of xenophobic attacks. The government has been accused of fanning the flames of violence and failing to prevent or stop it. According to Special Rapporteurs, an independent group of UN-affiliated human rights experts, “anti-migrant talk from government leaders has made violence worse, and the government has not done enough to prevent it or hold those responsible accountable.”

The need to improve Africa’s security has become more urgent than ever. The past ten years have shown that many leaders across the continent have not paid enough attention to it. And as long as this problem lingers, it’ll keep puncturing Africa’s growth prospects.

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