Changing Patterns of “Most Peaceful African Countries”: The 2013 to 2019 Global Peace Index (GPI)

By Chris Zumani Zimba


happy africans.jpgThe highest honour awarded to peace makers in the world is called “The Nobel Peace Prize”, awarded since 1901 by the Norwegian Nobel Committee based on Alfred Nobel’s will, to annually award the Peace Prize to the person who “…shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses”1. Some of the most known African recipients of this prize include Wole Soyinka, Nelson Mandela, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, F. W. de Klerk, Ahmed Zewail,  Kofi Annan, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, Denis Mukwege, Wangari Maathai and Mohamed ElBaradei2.

Generally, peace is defined as ‘a concept of societal friendship and harmony in the absence of hostility and violence’ or “when people are able to resolve their conflicts without violence and can work together to improve the quality of their lives”3. Peace is a highly a fragile commodity. For example, while Malawi was in June, 2019 ranked the third most peaceful African state by GPI, the country saw deadly demonstrations in Lilongwe and the northern city of Mzuzu in the same month with protesters looting shops and burning government offices in violent demands for Jane Ansah, the electoral commission chairperson to resign for helping to rig the May 21 elections4.

Changing Patterns of “Most Peaceful African Countries”: The 2014 to 2019 Global Peace Index (GPI)  

image-20151202-22456-1n3mr6h.jpgThe Global Peace Index (GPI) ranks 163 independent states and territories according to their level of peacefulness. The GPI covers 99.7% of the world’s population, using 23 qualitative and quantitative indicators from highly respected sources and measures the state of peace using three thematic domains: (1) the level of Societal Safety and Security; (2) the extent of Ongoing Domestic and International Conflict; (3) and the degree of Militarisation5.

Produced by the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP), the GPI is the world’s leading measure of global peacefulness. Iceland has maintained the title of being the most peaceful country in the world since the first the Global Peace Index (GPI) launched 13 years ago6. In this short article, we specifically analyze and disucss the how and why questions on the changing rankings and patterns of Africa’s top five (5) most peaceful countries from 2013 to 2019 as follows:

  1. Mauritius is 1 and globally ranked 24 in 2019, 20 in 2018, 19 in 2017, 22 in 2016, 21 in 2015, 19 in 2014, and 16 in 2013;
  2. Botswana is 2 and globally ranked 30 in 2019, 31 in 2018, 29 in 2017, 28 in 2016, 31 in 2015, 40 in 2014, and 32 in 2013;
  3. Malawi is  now 3 and globally ranked 40 in 2019, 44 in 2018, 50 in 2017, 48 in 2016,  37 in 2015, 43 in 2014, and 49 in 2013;
  4. Ghana  is now 4 and globally ranked 44 in 2019, 39 in 2018, 45 in 2017, 44 in 2016, 46 in 2015, 47 in 2014, and  43 in 2013; and
  5. Zambia is now 5 and globally ranked       48 in 2019, 48 in 2018, 41 in 2017, 42 in 2016, 50 in 2015, 45 in 2014, and 38 in 20137.

While Mauritius and Botswana have religiously maintained top two rankings for the past seven (7) years, Zambia, Malawi and Ghana have been irregular and changing among and between themselves for the other three top spots. For example, while Zambia, Ghana and Malawi were ranked number 3, 4 and 5 in 2013 respectively, in 2019, it is the total opposite with Malawi, Ghana and Zambia changing ranks in reverse order.


Generally, empirical data clearly show that Africa’s top five most peaceful countries have remained the same over the period of 2013 and 2019 with Mauritius and Botswana being the two leads. However, the 2013 to 2019 Global Peace Indexes (GPI) reveal a stubborn shift and overt change of ranking and pattern in the top five most peaceful countries at continental especially with reference to Zambia, Ghana and Malawi exchanging ranks and swapping third, fourth and fifth positions.  Clearly, it is a naked fact that the intermittent waves of contentious past presidential elections, macro-economic malaise, popular discontents and stakeholders confrontations could have played a crucial role in turning and changing the tables of political stability and state in the aforesaid countries.

Chris Zumani Zimba is a prolific Zambian Political Scientist, Policy Analyst, Author, Blogger, PhD Scholar, Researcher, Consultant, Public Health and Tobacco Control Advocate. So far, he has authored more than 10 political and academic books as well as published over 100 well researched articles. or; +260 973 153 815 for calls or WhatsApp. This article is made possible by Centre for Multiple Democracies, Good Governance and Peace (MDGGP) under Chrizzima Democracy University (CDU). But the views are attributed to the author and not CDU.


  1. The Nobel Prize (2019:1), “The Nobel Foundation” accessed from Retrieved 30 June, 2008
  2. Live Science, (2019:1), “10 Noblest Nobel Prize Winners”, accessed from; Wikipedia, (2019:1), “List of African Nobel Laureates”, accessed from
  3. International Alert, (2019:1), “What is peace”, accessed from  Retrieved 30-06-2019
  4. Voice of America News, (2019”1), “Election protestors promise vigil in Malawi”, accessed from  Retrieved 04-07-2019
  5. Relief Web, (2019:1), “Global Peace Index 2018” accessed from
  6. Vision of Humanity (2019:1), accessed from
  7. Statistics Times, (2019:1), “Global Peace Index”, accessed from; Institute for Economics & Peace. Global Peace Index 2018: Measuring Peace in a Complex World, Sydney, June 2018. Global Peace Index 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013 and 2012. Retrieved: February 6, 2019 accessed from


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