With the serious, headline-grabbing violence in the Central African Republic, Congo, Nigeria, Somalia, and South Sudan, it is easy to forget that there are peaceful countries in sub-Saharan Africa. The Fund for Peace has just released its 2017 Fragile State Index. Using a standard matrix, the Fund for Peace rank-orders the world’s 178 states with respect to their vulnerability to collapse. It is no surprise that at the stop of the list – the most fragile – are Somalia (1) and South Sudan (2). At the bottom – the least fragile – are Norway (177) and Finland (178).
Contrary to popular perception, the Index identifies a number of African states that are in the least fragile category: they are Seychelles (125), Botswana (120), Ghana (108), Cape Verde (106), Namibia (103), Sao Tome (97), and South Africa (96).
The Fragile State Index provides a means and a vocabulary for looking at state vulnerability. It does not claim to be definitive, nor is it. Nevertheless, its list of least fragile states in sub-Saharan Africa feels intuitively right. All of the states on its least fragile sub-Saharan list are small in population, with the exception of Ghana (27.41 million) and South Africa (54.96 million). All are relatively well-developed economically, and some are wealthy. South Africa’s is the most developed economy on the continent; Mauritius and Botswana have the highest per capita incomes. And all are among the best governed states on the continent, with a solid democratic trajectory.