Africa for a long time has been mired in internal conflicts, war, insurgency, and political instability. With such raging conflicts, its democracy has taken the hardest hit. Many African countries are still struggling with insurgency and political instability which has adversely impacted their economic and human development. However, there are a few bright spots that bring hope to the continent.
Democracy backsliding slowed development of Africa
The Mo Ibrahim Foundation tracks leadership and democracy on the Africa through the Ibrahim Index of African Governance (IIAG).
According to this foundation, Africa’s progress in human and economic development has slowed against a backdrop of “widespread democratic backsliding” and worsening security in the last three years. It further, said there had been “marginal improvement” in good governance across Africa since 2012, but the trend “flatlined” since 2019.
Similarly, the IIAG pointed out that governments have been increasingly prone to infringing on rights, curbing freedom of expression and association, and imposing restrictions on civic space. Further, in many places elections were canceled and governments used Covid as “an excuse to clamp down on dissent”.
Democracy has witnessed many setbacks in Africa due to a number of factors. Military coups, conflict, and insurgency have posed a huge threat to the democratic survival of many African countries. Military coups were a regular occurrence in Africa in the decades after independence and in recent years they have become all the more frequent, with marginal improvements seen till 2019.
For instance, the number of coups dropped to around two a year in the two decades up to 2019. In 2020, only one coup was reported in Mali. However, the situation soon deteriorated and in 2021, six coups or attempted coups were recorded, which is higher than the average number.
There were successful coups in Chad, Mali, Guinea, and Sudan and failed military takeovers in Niger and Sudan in the year 2021 alone. Similarly, in 2022, there were five coup attempts in Africa, although only two, in Burkina Faso, succeeded.
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Further, apart from coups, elections were postponed in many African countries. Precisely, local elections in Senegal, which were due to be held in June 2019 were postponed for the third time in 2021. Similarly, in Nigeria, too, its presidential and parliamentary elections were delayed in 2019, the announcement of which was made just five hours before the polls.
Brighter days ahead
However, not everything is lost for Africa. The IIAG also said that more than 90 percent of the continent now lives in countries wherein the human development index was higher as compared to 2012.
As per its report, the five countries that performed best in good governance were Mauritius, Seychelles, Tunisia, Cape Verde, and Botswana. It also said The Gambia, Seychelles, and some other countries were “bucking the continental trend,” and cited broad improvement in a lot of women.
Further, insurgency or armed conflicts have wreaked havoc in Africa. Recently, a ray of hope can be seen for Ethiopia, where the Tigray war that raged on for the last two years has finally entered into a peace talks agreement.
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In this quest, countries like Kenya have stepped up their efforts for building greater regional cooperation and envisioned a stronger East African Community. Therefore, from building stronger trade relations to regional military alliances to deal with Africa’s insurgency, all of these measures show that Africa is slowly but steadily rising from the ashes and is heading for long- term peace, stability, and prosperity.
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