How Six African Countries Ranked on the Social Progress Index

Since 2013, the Social Progress Index has assessed country performance based on social dimensions, placing emphasis on quality of living rather than economic gains.

Initiated by Harvard’s Michael Porter, the Index evaluates achievement based on a comprehensive and relevant set of social and environmental indicators enabling the assessment of the absolute and relative performance of countries. Overall, the Index shows how well economic progress translates into better social and environmental performance by capturing three social dimensions: Basic Human Needs, Foundation for Wellbeing, and Opportunity.

The 2017 Index evaluated 128 countries based on 50 indicators and shows a positive relationship between economic growth and social progress; with high income countries generally more socially and environmentally progressive. For countries at lower income levels, an increment in national income is associated with larger improvements in social progress. This trend is particularly evident when comparing the performance of African countries on the index.

Here’s a look at how a select number of African countries ranked on the index and how they performed across three specific components directly linked to the Sustainable Development Goals:

2017 Social Progress Index Scorecard

Social Progress Rank (out of 128) GDP PPP per Capita ($) Nutrition and Basic Medical Care


Access to Basic Knowledge


Environmental Quality


South Africa 66 12,393 88.64 86.32 60.60
Ghana 90 3,955 86.15 86.71 62.66
Kenya 95 2,901 74.35 79.49 66.13
Rwanda 101 1,655 73.81 76.07 57.59
Zimbabwe 108 1,678 63.66 81.60 55.15
Nigeria 109 5,639 72.88 62.94 61.75

Source: Social Progress Imperative

Table 1 shows the ranking, income level, and relative performance of six African countries based on three components of the Index.


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