Centre of Government and Delivery

Quality of Government is the Biggest Single Determinant of a Country’s Success

Posted on: 30th March 2017
Tony Blair
Former Prime Minister of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and Executive Chairman of the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change

Speaking at the Institute of Economic Affairs in Accra, Ghana, Mr. Blair made the case for effective governance as an essential driver of development, and why government needs to bring in the best thinking in the world today. To an audience of policymakers and business leaders, he said:

The important thing is to realise that the single most important determinant of a country’s success is the quality of its government.

Tony Blair

Citing Colombia and Venezuela, Poland and Ukraine, Rwanda and Burundi, and “the greatest experiment in governance the world has ever seen,” on the Korean Peninsula, he said that these are countries with roughly the same resources, populations and opportunities, but “one succeeds, one fails… What is the difference in each case? The difference is how it’s governed.”

Mr. Blair shared the lessons he learned while in government, including prioritising what you want to achieve and getting the right policies to deliver on commitments. For example, on education he said its importance has multiplied several times over the last 20 years. "Countries must educate people to the highest possible quality and to think creatively," he said, adding that “it’s not just a question of putting a whole load of kids in a classroom,” so that “you can tick that box and say we’ve got enrollment up.” Such lessons are at the heart of the work the Institute does with its partner governments. He also drew upon his experience of working with leaders across the world, and reflected upon what he would do if back in office today, saying that he would have a “whole wing of government that was like a permanent search party” for the best thinking.

During his visit, Mr. Blair also met the newly elected Ghanaian President Nana-Akufo-Addo, to discuss his vision for development and the challenges facing the country, including those in education, energy generation and job creation.  Speaking to journalists afterwards Mr. Blair said:

I am very confident about Ghana, the Ghanaian people should be confident about the country, and right now is the moment for understanding that potential and developing it. And knowing that whatever the challenges there is a genuine opportunity and the right focus is there.

Tony Blair