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The Fund for Peace, a non-governmental organization, publishes each year its Fragile States Index. The index compares the social, economic, political, and security challenges facing 178 countries. The Index provides a vocabulary for discussion of these challenges. A primary purpose is to improve early warning for conflict, promote improvements in governance, and recognize social and economic progress. African states have tended to be toward the bottom of the list.
However, this year’s Index accorded Mauritius “very stable” status, essentially the same as the United Kingdom or the United States. This is a first-time for an African state. The Index also listed Botswana and the Seychelles as “stable,” the next highest category. Ethiopia, Gambia, and Kenya, all of whom emerged from recent political tumult, were among the Index's most improved states, though they still are among the world's most fragile states.
The Index’s finding underscore the diversity characteristic of Africa. If Zimbabwe, Somalia, eastern Congo and parts of the Sahel are wracked with violence, Botswana, Mauritius, and Seychelles are characterized by democracy, protection of human rights, and social and economic progress.
It is true that Mauritius, Seychelles, Botswana are all small states with relatively little internal fractures. Governance has been consistent, with less alienation of the governed from the government that is so characteristic of other parts of Africa. None have suffered from the “oil curse,” and in all the security services have only a small footprint. However, South Africa, a large country with the continent’s most developed economy also scores well, despite its history of apartheid and ongoing extreme wealth inequality.